Fort Stockton, Texas

Day 615

     In the 17 & 1800’s The Great Comanche War trial came through this area. It was supported by a Spring named Comanche Springs, of course.

     In 1859 to protect the Military Road from San Antonio across West Texas, the army was looking for an outpost between Fort Davis and Fort Lancaster. Comanche Springs provided the perfect location and on March 23, 1859, Fort Stockton was founded. It was named for Commodore Robert Field Stockton, a hero of the California phase of the Mexican War.

     After abandoning the Fort to Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, who did not maintain it as it was too far West, the U.S. Army re-established Fort Stockton in July 1867 at the request of the settlements who wanted protection from raiding Indians. Garrisoned by four companies of the 9th U.S. Cavalry, Fort Stockton was home to the ex-slaves and black enlisted men known as Buffalo Soldiers. They got that name from the Indians who likened their hair to that of a buffalo’s neck and shoulders.

     The Fort had no walls or parapets. Back in those days, there were no trees or brush around the fort, just wide-open prairie.  You could see the dust of approaching riders from 10 miles away.

     The U.S. Army abandoned the fort for good on June 26, 1886, when the frontier and Indian Wars moved west beyond Texas. The community that had sprung up around the fort in the late 1860s lived on, though, nourished by Comanche Springs. 

     This wagon was used in the John Wayne movies “The Comancheros” and “Undefeated”.

     The town’s super-sized roadrunner mascot, Paisano Pete, although the roadrunner is the State Bird of New Mexico:

     Ok, What is this?

Technical Stuff:

Elmendorf, Texas to Fort Walton, Texas: 319.9

6 hours 2 minutes

9.0 MPG

Diesel: $2.69


Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas

Day 614

     Paseo del Río, or River Walk, is a network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River, one story beneath the streets of San Antonio.

     In September 1921 a flood along the San Antonio River took 50 lives. Plans were then developed for flood control of the river. Work began on the Olmos Dam and bypass channel in 1926. So that is 5 years of bureaucratic talk.

     Born in San Antonio on February 8, 1902, Robert Harvey Harold Hugman became an architect.  In 1929 Hugman introduced a proposal called “The Shops of Aragon and Romula,” a beautification and flood-control plan for the heart of the city. It only took 10 years to get approval and funding, those bureaucrats, again. He was made project manager, and is now acknowledged as “the Father of the River Walk”.

     The River Walk is 2.5 miles and is lined with hotels, restaurants, and a variety of shops.

     Bridges allow you to get from one side to the other, and boat tours are available day and night. 

     We did walk the streets of Laredo 

     We also attended San Antonio, the Saga, which is a video art projected on the face of San Fernando Cathedral, in San Antonio.

     After dark, laser light were displayed on the church facade

     It told the history of San Antonio

San Antonio, Texas

Day 613

     Although the Alamo was the defining moment of the Texas Revolution, it was not the beginning. The first shot was at The Battle of Gonzales on October 2, 1835, the first military engagement between rebellious Texian settlers and a detachment of Mexican army soldiers.

     In 1831, Mexican authorities gave the settlers of Gonzales a small cannon to help protect them from frequent Comanche raids. As contentions grew between Mexico and Texas, Colonel Domingo de Ugartechea, the commander of all Mexican troops in Texas, felt it unwise to leave the residents of Gonzales with a weapon and requested the return of the cannon. 

     In response, the Texians raised a homemade white banner with an image of the cannon painted in black in the center, over the words “Come and Take It”. The makeshift flag evoked the American Revolutionary-era slogan “Don’t Tread on Me”.

     Texans then fired their cannon at the Mexican camp. Two Mexican soldiers were killed, and with no orders to fight, the Mexican’s left, with no Texan casualties.

     Although the skirmish had little military significance, it marked a clear break between the colonists and the Mexican government and is considered to have been the start of the Texas Revolution.

     Mission San Antonio de Valero became an official military installation in 1803 when it became the barracks of the Spanish Army. From that time until 1877 it was a military base for any government seeking to control Texas. 

       One of the first companies to be assigned here was the mounted lancers from Álamo de Parras, designated as the “Flying Company” because their mobility made it possible for them to respond rapidly to the threat of attack by Comanche or other Indian raiders. 

       It wasn’t until 1850, during US War with Mexico, when the US Army inhabited the Alamo that they added the famous curved parapet. It was not present at the Battle of the Alamo (which is probably why you did not recognize Mission San Antonio de Valero when I posted it’s picture).

     Let’s face it, most of our knowledge of The Texas Revolution and The Alamo comes from Walt Disney. He brought to our attention Davy Crockett, Jim Bowie and William B. Travis. But what about the other 186 men who died at The Alamo, like Charles Zanco?

     Charles Zanco was born in Randers, Denmark, in 1808. Zanco and his father emigrated to America in 1834 after the death of Charles’s mother. They settled in Harris County, Texas. The Zancos were farmers, and Charles was also a painter. In the fall of 1835 Zanco joined the first volunteers at Lynchburg for service in the Texas Revolution. He served under Lt. Col. James Clinton Neill, the 45-year-old North Carolinian at the Battle of Gonzales a few weeks earlier, as I noted above.

     Zanco helped design the company’s flag, which featured a painted star and the legend, “Independence.” Zanko was the first person ever to paint a Lone Star on a Texan flag.

     Zanco entered the Alamo on February 23, 1836, as the Mexican Army was approaching. He died defending the Alamo on March 6, 1836, at age 28. So, it appears, that Charles Zanko, not even an American Citizen, is responsible for Texas being called “The Lone Star State”.

     After the Alamo was over run, Santa Ana ordered all the bodies of the defenders placed in a pile and burned. A year later those ashes were gathered and in 1938 placed in this tomb at San Fernando Cathedral, in San Antonio.

     A year later? Really? I bet there is at least one rodent’s ashes in there.  

     Of course, they do have a tribute to John Wayne.

Missions of San Antonio, Texas

Day 612

     In 1493 Pope Alexander VI divided the known world between Spain and Portugal and gave the Spanish king authority to occupy the Americas. From the 1500’s to the 1800’s Spain controlled the largest empire in the world. However by the early 1700’s France was encroaching on Spanish claimed lands in what is now Texas.

     Spain had tried to colonize the area, but Spaniards were not interested. Spain came up with the idea to make the local Indians Spanish citizens and thereby populate the area with tax paying people. The Payaya were the local indigenous people whose territory encompassed the area of present-day San Antonio, Texas.

     To become a citizen the Indians must first become catholics. To that end Franciscan monks were sent here to build missions for that purpose.

     This area was first exploded by the Spaniards in 1691. San Antonio, and the San Antonio River, were named by that expedition for Saint Anthony of Padua. The colonial settlement began here on May 1, 1718 with the founding of the Franciscan Mission San Antonio de Valero.

     In vicinity of the Mission was the Presidio (a fortified military settlement) San Antonio de Bexar, named for one of the great heroes of Spain, Due de Bexar. The place was named San Fernando de Bexar in 1731, when it became a municipality, but the locals still called it San Antonio, Spanish for “Saint Anthony”. Today it is San Antonio in the County of Bexar.

     The mission community was part of Spain’s plan to protect her interests and educate and convert the Indians. The missions were more than churches, they were fortified communities.

     The compound walls that surrounded the church provided protection from raiding Apaches and Comanches and created a secure space in which to live, work, and attend church.

     Spain built 43 missions in what is now the State of Texas. Six of those missions are along the San Antonio River, of which the first was San Antonio de Valero. By 1739, 300 Indian converts lived in that compound.

     Mission San José y San Miguel de Aguayo was the second of the six missions and named for the Spanish Governor of the providence at the time who approved the building of the mission. 

     It was well fortified, with gun ports at the entrance gate

and along all the walls. The walls also encased the living quarters of the Indians. It was two stories, the top with musket ports, and the lower for cannon:

     Mission San Juan Capistrano was named for Giovanni di Capistrano, the Franciscan priest who commanded the Christian forces that pushed the Turks back from Hungary in 1456. He died of the plague after this successful campaign. (Isn’t that where the birds go?)

      Mission Concepción de Acuña: This mission was named in honor of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception and Juan de Acuña, the Marqués de Casafuerte. The Marqués was Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico). Originally founded in 1716 in what is now eastern Texas, the mission was one of the six authorized by the government to serve as a buffer against the threat of French incursion into Spanish territory from Louisiana.

     Mission San Francisco Xavier de Nájera was established in 1722 at the request of the chief of a band of Rancheria Grande natives who had guided an expedition to reopen the Missions of East Texas. No permanent buildings were established (hence nothing to take a picture of). By 1726, Mission San Francisco Xavier de Najera was abandoned and the remaining inhabitants were absorbed into Mission San Antonio de Valero

     Mission San Francisco de la Espada was the final mission of the six. On March 5, 1731, Mission San Francisco de la Espada was established along the banks of the San Antonio River.

     The inside of all the missions looked pretty much the same. 

     Like the other missions, the walls surrounding the courtyard housed the living quarters of the Indians. 

     This was rugged wilderness at the time, but those Franciscan monks sure new how to live in comfort:

      Now that you know all about the missions, which one do we now know as “The Alamo”?

Elmendorf, Texas

Day 611

     Elmendorf, Texas, was founded in 1885 and named after Henry Elmendorf, a former mayor of San Antonio. Born April 7, 1849 and died 52 years later. We are staying here because it is just outside San Antonio, Texas.

Technical Stuff:

Alleyton, Texas to Elmendorf, Texas: 132.3 miles

2 hours 42 minutes

9.2 MPG

Diesel: $2.65

Alleyton, Texas

Day 610

     In 1821, the area which would become Alleyton, Texas was happened upon by Rawson Alley who migrated from Missouri, where he was born in 1793. He helped survey the land which would become the headquarters of Stephen F. Austin’s colony. In exchange he was given this area that now bears his name. 

    Tidbit of Information:  When he died in 1833, his Will was administered by attorney William B. Travis, who became the Commander in the defense of the Alamo.

Technical Stuff:

Iowa, La. to Alleyton, Tx: 222.2 miles

4 hours 20 minutes

10.6 MPG

Diesel: $2.59

Beaumont, Texas

Day 519

Day 519 Beaumont TX 7788_Fotor

     The birth of the modern oil industry began on August 28, 1859 at Titusville, Pennsylvania.

     So, why is it called a “barrel of oil”? I am not going to tell you.

     Tidbit of Information: Until 1880, the United States remained virtually the only source for crude and refined petroleum throughout the world. 

     Henry Millard was born around 1796 in Stillwater, New York. He was an American businessman. He founded the city of Beaumont, Texas, in 1835 and fought in the Battle of San Jacinto the following year in 1836 during the Texas Revolution. The town was named Beaumont after Jefferson Beaumont, the brother-in-law of Henry Millard (now that is not very romantic). The town was incorporated December  16, 1838.

    Oil was discovered at nearby Spindletop, in the southern portion of Beaumont, Texas on January 10, 1901. Spindletop became the first major oil field in America and one of the largest in American history. Spindletop was the largest gusher the world had seen and catapulted Beaumont into an oil-fueled boomtown.

     Ok, I will tell you: Wooden whiskey and wine barrels were readily available to transport crude oil when oil was first pumped from wells. Although oil is now transported by pipelines and tankers, a barrel, corresponding to 42 gallons, is still the standard measure.

     Beaumont is also home to the Disney fire hydrant. Why here, no one seems to know. The fire hydrant was dedicated on March 9, 1999 to promote the re-release of the animated 101 Dalmatians to the TV market. 

Day 519 Beaumont TX 7756_Fotor

     The hydrant stands 24 feet tall, weighs 4,500 pounds, and can blast 1,500 gallons of water a minute. 

Technical Stuff:

Waco Texas to Beaumont, Texas: 285.2 miles

6 hours 1 minute

10.8 MPG

Diesel: $2.50

Dr Pepper, Waco, Texas

Day 518

Day 518 Dr Pepper Waco TX 7699_Fotor

     Barbara wanted to visit Magnolia Market. Something to do with a TV show. It was in an old grain mill. Not impressed. 

Day 518 Dr Pepper Waco TX 7694_Fotor

     I wanted to visit the Dr Pepper bottling plant and museum. You can see where our preferences lie.  

Day 518 Dr Pepper Waco TX 7711_Fotor

     On Day 259 I told you Coca-Cola was invented in 1886, but Dr Pepper says they were invented a year earlier. December 1, 1885, was the first time Dr Pepper was served. It was formulated by Brooklyn-born pharmacist Charles Alderton in Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store in Waco, Texas. 

     The drink was originally called a “Waco”. The owner of the drug store, Wade Morrison, named it Dr Pepper. The reason for that named has been lost to history. Notice, however, there is no period after Dr. (There is here, because it is the end of a sentence.)

     In the early days of the soft drink industry, the carbon dioxide gas used for making the “fizz” in the water was produced by pouring acid over marble dust (soda). Now, don’t you wish you didn’t know that? 

Day 518 Dr Pepper Waco TX 7744_Fotor

     William Painter invented the bottle crown in 1892. He was a Baltimore machinist who also invented the cap (crown) puller and the machine to fill and cap the bottles. This made all bottles uniform, making the system a success.  

Day 518 Dr Pepper Waco TX 7731_Fotor

     We attended a demonstration of smell and taste testing, which demonstrated without smell, you cannot taste. 

Day 518 Dr Pepper Waco TX 7752_Fotor


Dinosaurs in Waco, Texas

Day 517

Day 517 Dinosaurs Waco TX 7654_Fotor

     In 1978, two men were exploring a dry creek bed in Waco, Texas, looking for arrowheads, when they came across a bone sticking out of the ground. They took the bone to Baylor University here in Waco, where it was identified as a leg bone belonging to a Mammoth.

Day 517 Dinosaurs Waco TX 7651_Fotor

     A mammoth is any species of the extinct pre-historic elephant, equipped with long, curved tusks and, in the northern species, a covering of long hair. They lived from 5 million to 2 million years ago in Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.

Day 517 Dinosaurs Waco TX 7638_Fotor

     A team from the University began excavating the sight and found 23 mammoths, the largest nursery heard (adults and juveniles) in the United States. Some were removed for study. A dig shelter was constructed over the remaining. That structure ultimately became a permanent building opened to the public in 2009.

Day 517 Dinosaurs Waco TX 7641_Fotor

The Texas Rangers, Waco, Texas

Day 516

Day 516 Texas Rangers Waco TX 7671_Fotor

     The Texas Rangers were formed in the area now called Waco, Texas, in 1823 when Stephen F. Austin employed ten men to act as rangers to protect 600 to 700 settlers who arrived in Texas following the Mexican War of Independence.

     The land was Mexican, inhabited by Anglos, and controlled by Indians. Ultimately, the Rangers were responsible for nudging the Indians out. 

     The Texas Ranger museum, here in Waco, pays tribute to the Rangers, tracing their history and accomplishments (as well as their disgraces). It is well done. 

     Who was that masked man?Day 516 Texas Rangers Waco TX 7675_Fotor    

     He’s the Lone Ranger!.

     Yes, they had a room devoted to that hero of yesteryear. Although he was fiction, that masked man did a lot to promote the Texas Rangers. 

     Kemo Sabe was first introduced to the public on January 30, 1933 as a program on WXYZ radio broadcasting from Detroit, Michigan.  In the 1949-1957 TV series, he was portrayed by actor Clayton Moore. 

     See you later,  Hi-yo, Silver! Away!

Waco, Texas

Day 515

Day 515 Waco TX 7607_Fotor

     After setting up camp in Waco, Texas, Barbara thought she saw FBI agents surrounding the compound. 

     Finding a campground is a crapshoot. We choose a campground that is on our destination route and about 200 miles from our previous camp. At our last campground, in Abilene, Texas, we were right on Interstate 20, with loud traffic 24/7. I think we would be further from traffic on the median strip. 

     Today, we are camping on Lake Waco. This facility is run by Department of the Army’s Corps of Engineers. We are on a peninsula of the lake, with water on both sides. Being the end of the season, there are only a few other RV’s in the park.

Day 515 Waco TX 7621_Fotor

     With Barbara’s old age pass, we are paying the same for 3 nights here as we paid for 1 night in Abilene. 

Day 515 Waco TX 7612_Fotor

     The city of Waco was formed in 1849 after pushing out the Indians of the same name. 

Technical Stuff:

Abilene, Texas to Waco, Texas: 233.2 miles

4 hours 45 minutes

11.9 MPG

Diesel: $2.49

Abilene, Texas

Day 512

Day 512 Abilene TX 7602_Fotor

     Abilene Texas was established  by cattlemen as a stock shipping point on the Texas and Pacific Railway in 1881. The city was named after Abilene, Kansas, the original endpoint for the Chisholm Trail. Those cattlemen weren’t very imaginative.

     This area of Texas was once inhabited by the Jumano Indians, who were pushed out by the more hostile Apache Indians, who were pushed out in 1724 by the even more hostile Comanche Indians.

     The Spanish had been in this area since 1530, looking for the 7 cities of gold, which, obviously, they did not find. In the early 1800’s the Spanish government encouraged non-Spanish settlers to come to this region to create a buffer against the constant Comanche raids. Early Texas organizers, like Stephen F. Austin, were given large land grants which they used to offer free land as an enticement for Americans from the east and European Immigrants to come settle.

     The area was vast and lacked an organized government, resulting in conflict between new settlers and people loyal to the Spanish government, in addition to the Indian conflict. To help protect the settlers, Stephen F. Austin formed the Texas Rangers. These conflicts ultimately let to the Texas war for independence from Mexico in 1836.

     We went to the Texas Frontier Museum were we were guided by holograms (called Spirit Guides) through the museum.

Day 512 Abilene TX 7587_Fotor

     This Comanche Chief’s shield was found buried with him. It contains 3 women’s scalps. 

Day 512 Abilene TX 7574_Fotor

     Do you recognize this stagecoach?

 Day 512 Abilene TX 7583_Fotor

     It was used in the movies Hombre, Three Amigos, The Cherokee Kid, and the TV show Little House on the Prairie.

     Times were tough then. When you finally came to a town, you might use their community toothbrush.

 Day 512 Abilene TX 7585_Fotor

Technical Stuff:

Lubbock, Texas to Abilene, Texas: 176.0 miles

3 hours 31 minutes

11.8 MPG (we are going south, so it is all downhill)

Diesel: $2.40

Windmill Museum, Lubbock, Texas

Day 511

     The West could not have been settled without windmills. They provided water for the frontier town, farms, and cattle ranches. Most train stops had a windmill to pump the water to towers that they needed for their boilers. The American Wind Power Center has on display these windmills from the last 200 years.

     If you remember day 181 we visited the Kregel Windmill Co. in Nebraska City, Nebraska. I was under the impression there were only a handful of Windmill production companies, but today I saw over 200 different brand windmills on display.

     Even Sears Roebuck & Co. sold their branded windmill through their catalog in 1896.

      On day 114, when we were in Holland, Michigan, we observed their grist windmill. The museum here had on display numerous millstones, including the stones used by the Hershey Chocolate Company in Pennsylvania, which they used to grind the coco beans into chocolate.

     We learned that mill stones work in pairs. The beadstone is stationary and the runner stone rotated above it, hung on a vertical spindle. The milling faces of the stones are given deep furrows and groves that help break up the grain. Over time, these furrows wore down with use and had to constantly be recut, a process known as “dressing the stone”. (Of course you realize that as the stone wears down, it gets mixed into the grain, which you then eat).

      This would be a bedstone. The iron band around the circumference prevents the stone from shattering in operation. 

     This stone was imported from England before the Revolution. It is a runner stone, which you can tell by the cutouts where the spindle from the shaft of the windmill would fit. 

     The museum also housed a huge train exhibit. Not only did the trains run on a platform that ran the entire length of the building, 

but they also ran along the side walls of the building on a double track support that is 13 feet above the floor.

     To get the trains to that height required a spiral helix. The trains run along a track that is set around a 15 foot spiral structure that makes 10 loops around to get to the inside wall.

     This modern windmill is actually in use providing all the power of the museum. 

     It is the Vestas Model V47, a wind machine for generating electricity. The machine generates 1 million kilowatt hours of electricity a year. The museum uses half that and sells the rest to the grid. It is 164 feet tall and weighs 97,000 pounds. Each fiberglass blade is 77 feet long. You can purchase one for just under a million dollars, volume discounts are available. 

Lubbock Airfield, Texas

Day 510

     The Silent Wings Museum is located on Lubbock Airfield in Lubbock, Texas. It is in tribute and remembrance of the gliders used in World War II. During the war nine preliminary military glider pilot training fields operated in Texas, with one of those sites here at Lubbock Municipal Airport. This museum opened in October, 2002.

     The primary glider used by the Army was built by the WACO Aircraft Co. of Troy, Ohio. It was designated as a cargo assault glider, with a designation of CG-4A. The glider could carry troops, or equipment, including a jeep, bulldozer, or a small tank. It’s primary purpose was to glide silently behind enemy lines to bring or supply troops. 

     America was a slow starter in using gliders, even though Germany was using them successfully to invade it’s neighboring countries before the US got into the War. This glider was not used until 1943 during the invasion of Sicily. The result of this late start was lots of casualties, with 38% of all the gliders launched crashing. 

     The museum had the above restored CG-4A on display.

Lubbock, Texas

Day 508

     Lubbock County was founded in 1876. It was named after Thomas Saltus Lubbock, former Texas Ranger and brother of Francis Lubbock, governor of Texas during the Civil War. The Town was formed in 1884, merged with another town in 1890 and was incorporated on March 16, 1909 when the first railroad train arrived. The town’s most famous citizen was singer Buddy Holly. He was born Charles Hardin Holley on September 7, 1936 but was known as “Buddy”. When he began recording records, the record company spelled his last name wrong. 

     We went to the Buddy Holly Center. Not very impressive. Evidently they are afraid if you take pictures and post them no one will come to the museum, therefore photography not allowed. They did have on display the glasses he was wearing when the plane crashed. They probably should have wiped the blood off. 

     Buddy was only a star for 18 months before he died in the plane crash. I wonder if he would be so famous if he lived and people got tired of his music and then he died? 

Technical Stuff:

Carlsbad, New Mexico to Lubbock, Texas: 181.3 miles

3 hours 51 minutes

7.6 MPG (high winds)

Diesel: $2.60