Monday, February 29, 2016

Gladewater, TX

The East Texas town of Gladewater is known as the "Antique Capital of Texas" and with that title comes a fair amount of history.  Our first stop is the East Texas Museum at Gladewater where they have a historic marker right out front:

The marker reads:

     "The W. E. Nunnelee Bus Lines began passenger service from Tyler to Gladewater and Mt. Pleasant in March 1925; later added buses from Tyler to Henderson and Nacogdoches. Twenty-six vehicles were operated over the 205 miles. These included 7-passenger automobiles and 12-, 15-, 16-, and 19-passenger buses.
     Fare from Tyler to Gladewater was $1. with stops in Winona, Starrville, Friendship, the 30-mile run took an hour, over roads paved in 1919 and 1923.
     On Aug. 1, 1927, buses were placed under regulation of the Railroad Commission. This line had franchise No. 1; it was one of 247 companies running 865 public passenger vehicles on 20,348 miles of Texas roads.
     Many of these "buses" were autos built for private use. Others had "stretched" auto chassis seating 10 or more passengers. Several models had doors that opened along the side. Uncomfortable and hard to drive, they constantly needed new tires and repairs to brakes and valves. Breakdowns were frequent. Overhauls (often made, or necessity, by the roadside) were handled by mechanics lacking suitable tools.
     Although far different from the airconditioned, safety-engineered bus of today, early buses showed the way to a new era in convenient transportation. Incise in base: Early travel, communication and transportation series erected by Moody Foundation."

Not too far from this location is the site of the Snavely #1 Discovery Well:

The Gladewater Heritage Society was kind enough to add their own historical marker to this site:

The marker reads:

     "On April 7, 1931 this wildcat well drilled by Selby Oil and Gas Co. of Tulsa, OK. came-in at 1000 barrels an hour.  Located in the Sabine River bottom a mile south of town,  it connect Gadewater to the vast East Texas Oil Field stretching from Longview's Lathrop Well 7 miles north, to Kilgo's Crim Well 14 miles south.  Royalty owners were the Snavely family of Martinsville, IL. headed by judge Herschel Snavely, nine relatives came to watch the drilling.  L.C. Snavely acquired interest in this land when several Illinois investors underwrote the sawmill, lumber operations of James Moore who in 1906 bought 4200 acres for $20,000 and moved his enterprise to Gladewater by train.  Moore's mill was destroyed in 1913 by a boiler explosion.  In 1914 he surveyed and divided the land into equal sections.  Investors drew lots to determine their parcels.  Oil was discovered under the entire 4200 acre tract.  Texaco, Inc. operated the well from 1938 until its shut-down on November 30, 1957.  Texaco closed its local office in 1987 after 54 years in Galdewater, and donated to the city this pumping unit from the Texaco-Snavely "A" Lease #1.  The original derrick was wooden."

The discovery of oil had a huge impact on not only this East Texas but the rest of the country as well.  Here is some video we shot that explains a little more about the formation of the East Texas Oil Field:

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Bonnie & Clyde

Notorious outlaws Bonnie & Clyde left a trail of chaos in their wake until their grisly deaths.  Their final resting places are in the North Texas area near where their lives and criminal careers began.  Although they lived and died together they are not buried together so our first stop is Western Heights Cemetery in Dallas:

It's west of downtown Dallas and has a history all it's own:

The marker reads:

"Located on part of the original William Coombes survey, burials in this cemetery date to the 1850s. Originally known as Troth, it was formally dedicated in 1881, when land was set aside for a "graveyard forever" by Z. E. Coombes and W. R. Fisher. Pioneers interred here include W. R. Fisher, Z. E. Coombes, John and Rosina Loupot, Mary Ellen Cole Tuggle, and Heinrich and Anna Struck. Also buried here are verterans of the Civil War and World Wars I and II, and Clyde and Buck Barrow. Trinity Oaks Church of Christ maintains the historic cemetery."

Clyde's grave is typically adorned with booze bottles, shotgun shells and cigarettes but when I went there were just a few plastic flower arrangements:

Bonnie's grave is Crown Hill Memorial Park about 10 miles to the north.  Apparently she also has some posthumous fans who tend to her grave.  On the day I went a lone cigarette was placed about the headstone:

So there you have the final resting place of two notorious nogoodniks and cultural icons.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

"Katy" & the Red River Railroad Museum

 All aboard for our next installment!

The marker near the Red River Railroad Museum in Denison, TX is all about "Katy" and it reads:

     In 1865 the Union Pacific Railway southern branch was incorporated to build a railroad from the St. Louis-Kansas City area to the Gulf of Mexico. In 1870, with construction completed to the border of Indian Territory, the line was renamed the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad. This title was often shortened to M-K-T, which led to the familiar nickname by with the line is best known -- "The Katy."
      Following the route of an old cattle trail, the Katy became the first railroad to cross Indian Territory, now the state of Oklahoma, and enter Texas from the north. On Christmas Day 1872, over 100 passengers rode the first Katy train into Denison, a new townsite named for M-K-T Vice President George Denison. The construction and acquisition of branch lines soon extended the Katy east to Greenville, west to Rotan and Wichita Falls, and south to Galveston and San Antonio. By 1904, the system had over 1,000 miles of track in Texas. The railroad transported cattle, cotton, and other crops to market. It also carried passengers on such trains as the "Texas Special" and the "Katy Flyer" before passenger service ended in 1965.
      Today (1975) Denison is a division headquarters on the M-K-T and the home of about 600 railroad employees.

Here is some video we shot at the museum & depot:

(FUN FACT: We shot this about 30 minutes after Devin had left the emergency room after hurting his hand. We tried (and failed) to hide the bandage on his hand by having him stand behind stuff.)

Friday, February 26, 2016

Eastland County

Today's entry take us to Eastland, TX where we get a double-shot of historical markers:

The one of the left reads:

     "County seat, Eastland County. Named for William M. Eastland--Texas War for Independence hero who was in Mier Expedition against Mexico, and was executed in "Black Bean" lottery at Rancho Salado in 1842.
      Most noted early local people were Comanches, who resisted occupation of area by white settlers. The last recorded Indian raid in county was in 1874.
Eastland was named county seat in an election on Aug. 2, 1875. With 250 people it was incorporated on June 6, 1891, and W.Q. Connellee was elected as mayor.
      After a discovery in 1917, one of the fabled oil booms of Texas occurred nearby, with Eastland center for legal matters. With oil priced $2.60 a barrel, many wells flowed at 10,000 barrels a day. The city quickly grew to 25,000 people; 5 banks prospered.
      Coming here to seek "black gold" were celebrities, including evangelist Billy Sunday, circus owner John Ringling, sports figures Jess Willard, Tex Rickard.
      An international wonder-story happened here: the old courthouse cornerstone was opened (on this site) in 1928 to reveal survival of "Old Rip", a horned toad placed there with other mementoes on July 19, 1897.
      Continuing oil production, agricultural processing and clay products bolster the present economy."

And the one on the right:

     "First known Eastland area inhabitant was Frank Sanchez (d. 1867), who grazed herds here in the 1850s. The United States in 1853 established Army posts at Fort Phantom Hill, in present Taylor County, and Fort Belknap, in present Young County, giving the frontier protection against hostile Indians. This opened a modest influx of settlers, including families named Bell, Birden, Birt, Blair, Ellison, Fitzwaters, Flannagan, Gilbert, Herring, Highsaw, McGough, Mansker, Melburn, Oliver, Owens, Richards, Shirley, Singleton, Upton, and Wyatt, from "old states" of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee. The county was created, but not organized, in 1858. The U.S. Census for 1860 showed 99 residents. When Texas seceded from the Union in 1861, and Army garrisons withdrew, many pioneers left or took refuge at Blair's Fort, in southeastern part of the county.
      Post-Civil War settlers included such leaders as Dr. Edwin Daniel Townsend, who arrived from Kentucky in 1871. The county was organized in an election held Dec. 2, 1873, with Merriman designated county seat (in violation of legislation creating the county). In 1875 the government was moved to Eastland, founded that year by investor Charles U. Connellee (1851-1930)."

Eastland has few interesting claims to fame like the 6-ft. x 10-ft. mural made from over 11,000 stamps at the post office:

But, of course their most well known resident is "Old Rip" the world famous horny toad:

Old Rip is a local legend and his coffin resides in the Eastland County Courthouse where people come from all over the world to pay their respects. (He was also the subject of one of our documentaries).

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dodd's Creek Bridge

Salado, TX puts a lot of effort into giving off a "quaint" vibe. So much so that even their historic marker is quite quaint. Check out one of the few lenticular truss bridges west of the Mississippi:

The unique bridge was moved to this part of Salado to keep pedestrians safe as they walk through the impressive Salado Arts District.

The marker reads:

     One of many patented truss designs developed by American inventors and engineers in the mid- to late-19th century, this 87-foot lenticular truss bridge represents an unusual truss type in the United States. The lenticular design features a curved top and bottom chord which forms a lens shape. The patent, issued to William O. Douglas of Connecticut in 1878, was the only one given for a lenticular truss bridge in the United States. Most were constructed in the New England area and in New York state. Through the efforts of William Payson, a salesman for Douglas' Berlin Iron Bridge Company, Texas acquired at least a dozen truss bridges in the late 19th century.
      The Coryell County Commissioners Court contracted with the Berlin Iron Bridge Company to build four lenticular truss bridges for $16,500 in 1889. This bridge originally was located across Cowhouse Creek and later was moved to Dodd's Creek.
      In 1990 the Texas Historical Commission and the Texas Department of Transportation identified eight lenticular truss bridges surviving in Texas. Four of the spans were located in San Antonio; the other four were positioned on out-of-service roadways. The only examples of this rare bridge type west of the Mississippi, they are recognized as historically significant engineering structures. The Society for Industrial Archeology and Historic American Engineering Record, a branch of the National Park Service, also have recognized the importance of the Texas lenticular bridges as products of a short-lived but important period of bridge technology in 19th century engineering history. The Dodd's Creek bridge was moved to this site in 1997 to improve the flow of traffic, protect pedestrians and enhance the Salado Historic District. (2000)

Like any good bridge, this one has a troll protecting it as depicted here in the sculpture "Billy Goat Gruff" by Troy Kelley.

 The other side of the bridge has a sculpture titled "Lovers" by Aaron Gist.

 And after you cross the bridge you are greeted by what can only described as a "Bicycle Fence."