Western Trips

Friday, December 26, 2014

Historic Texas Home Tour / Waco

If you future travels take you to Waco Texas, make sure to view and explore some the city's historic residences. Thanks to the Historic Waco Foundation, there are several historic houses that have been restored and maintained that can be toured by the public. All of these houses of course have a different story behind them. Touring these historic properties will give you a good feel for late 1800's and early 1900's Waco. The houses offer tours, exhibits, lectures, workshops, and other educational and recreational programs.

waco texas baylor university
Waco, Texas is located about halfway between Dallas and Austin along Interstate 35 and along the shores of the Brazos River.The first inhabitants at a settlement at present day Waco were Native Americans. The first Anglo settler in the area was Neil McLennan in 1838. The first block of Waco was designed by surveyor George B. Erath in 1849.

Today, Waco, Texas is home to Baylor University. Waco was also the city where the popular soft drink ,Dr. Pepper, was invented and today is the home of the Dr. Pepper Museum. Also make a stop at the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum which has it's home in Waco.

Waco, Texas is the county seat of McLennan County.

Earle-Napier-Kinnard House

The Earle-Napier-Kinnard House is of Greek Revival architecture and is located at 814 South 4th. The first structure on the property was a one story home built by John Bayliss Earle in 1858. The home was made into a larger house in 1869 by Dr. John Napier Smith Sr. who had the wherewithal to expand the then modest house. It was after Napier's addition and renovation that the house took on it's true Greek Revival styling.

historic homes waco texas
Earle-Napier-Kinnard House
Dr. Napier's daughter, Sarah, married Reverend David C. Kinnard, Jr. The two moved into the home and subsequently inherited it.  Sarah and her husband continued to live in the house with three of their children as long as they lived.  The last two residents in the house were Miss Mary Kinnard and Miss Kate Kinnard.

In addition to the beautiful house there is a Victorian Teeling Playhouse that as built in 1881. Children can enjoy the playhouse today.

Many of the pieces in the house are original. The home looks especially beautiful during the Christmas season with each room having it's own decorations.  This historic Texas home is open year round with the exception of Thanksgiving and Christmas.You can tour the home during it's regular hours (Sat and Sun 2p-5p) and private tours for groups are available by appointment. For more information call (254) 753-5166.

victorian homes texas
Fort House
Fort House 

Fort House is located at 503 South 4th. Built in 1868 in Greek Revival style by William Aldridge Fort who came to Waco from Alabama. The Fort House has authentic Victorian furniture and artifacts from early Waco. The house was purchased in 1956 by the Junior League of Waco.

Along with many family heirlooms are fine examples of early Texas artists. Guided tours are available and they last perhaps 30 minutes. Most of the rooms in the house are full of items from the Fort family's era, some from the family itself. The rooms are set up like they might have been in the past. When you view the kitchen you'll get a good idea of how different cooking was in the 1800's.

waco historic preservation
Hoffman House

The Hoffman House is located at 810 South 4th. 

This house was built in the late 1890's in the Queen Anne style Victorian and today is the home of the Historic Waco Foundation offices. You'll enjoy the tours and there's a gift shop. This home again features articles from the era of the late 1800's and early 1900's.

Western Trips has published several interesting articles on historic houses of Texas. See these articles from the links below... 

Historic Homes of San Marcos 

A Walking Tour of Gonzales Texas Historic Homes

Homes in the 1800's / McKinney Texas 

mcculloch house waco texas
McCulloch House
The McCulloch House 

The McCulloch House Museum is located at 407 Columbus Avenue. The home is on the National Register of Historic Places.

In the late 1800's the McCulloch House was the social place to be in Waco. This Greek Revival style home was built in the 1860-70's by the McCulloch's who made their home the center of socializing.

On display in the house are some of the family heirlooms and art collection.  The original house was a two-room structure. The McCulloch House was enlarged to its present two-story Greek Revival architecture made of local pink brick.

Trained docents offer tours of the McCulloch House and Museum which give visitors a real appreciation of the Victorian era.

As mentioned above there are several excellent Waco Texas attractions and visiting and touring the historic homes of the city is one of them.

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Historic Sites / Dallas Texas, November 1963

What occurred in Dallas' Dealey Plaza in November 1963 was beyond a doubt the city's darkest hour. Today, Dealey Plaza attracts visitors from throughout the world who for whatever reason, and there are likely a lot of reasons, just want to see for themselves the place where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. So much has been reported over the years regarding the physical landscape of Dealey Plaza that actually visiting the site yourself can be quite an experience.

dealey plaza dallas
Old School Book Depository Bldg, opposite Dealey Pl.
Dealey Plaza

In Dealy Plaza itself the number one attraction has always been the old Texas School Book Depository Building.

 It was they said, where the assassin Lee Harvey Oswald fired the fatal bullets from the building's sixth floor southeast window.  That window on the photo to the left is on the far right side, the second story from the top.

At the time of the JFK assassination, the building of course was not open to the public. It was in essence a warehouse where Texas school books were stored. Later, in this same infamous building, the city would create the unique Sixth Floor Museum and Dealey Plaza itself would become the Dealey Plaza National Historic District.

Dealey Plaza came into being during the 1930's when land donated by early Dallas philanthropist and businesswoman Sarah Horton Cockrell was earmarked for a city park. The project was completed as a WPA project in 1940. At that time the land was on the western edge of Downtown Dallas. The park takes it's name in honor of George Bannerman Dealey, a civic leader and early publisher of the Dallas Morning News.

The Sixth Floor Museum

The Sixth Floor Museum is located at 411 Elm Street. For information about operating hours, special events / exhibits visit website...www.jfk.org

According to the Sixth Floor Museum website, the museum "chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy; interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historic Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza; and presents contemporary culture within the context of presidential history". Permanent exhibits at the museum include photos, artifacts and films about the life of President John F. Kennedy. There are also temporary exhibits on the building's seventh floor and the museum features monthly programs and special events.

texas theater dallas texas
The Texas Theater
The Texas Theater

The Texas Theater where Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested by Dallas Police is today still a working movie theater. The Texas Theater located at 231 West Jefferson Blvd, southeast of the downtown district opened it's doors in 1931. When the theater was constructed the owners spared no expense. The theater was built entirely of concrete and called itself "fireproof". It was also the first theater in that area showing "talking pictures" or "talkies" as they were often referred to.

On November 23rd, 1963 the Texas Theater of course would take on another entirely different image when Lee Harvey Oswald entered the theater without buying a ticket.

Lee Harvey Oswald's Rooming House

Not far at all from the Texas Theater in the Oak Cliff section of Dallas was the rooming house where Oswald resided. The address of the old rooming house is 1026 N. Beckley Avenue.

oswald rooming house dallas
Old Oswald rooming house in Oak Cliff
The house is still there today and has been occupied by Pat Hall who has lived there for over seventy years. Hall’s grandmother, Gladys Johnson, purchased the Oak Cliff property in 1943 and for many years ran a rooming house there. Her tenants included Oswald, who arrived on Oct. 14, 1963, taking a room for $8 a week Hall moved into the house in 2001 to care for her mother.

Today, the old Lee Harvey Oswald rooming house offers tours. If you've never been to the Oswald Rooming House, then you're really missing a unique experience. Take yourself back to 1963 and see what the rooming house looked like then.. For more information about the Oswald rooming house tour see website...http://www.oswaldroominghousetours.com/

JFK Conspiracy Theories

What might attract so many people still today from around the world to these sites connected with the JFK assassination likely are the many conspiracy theories  that started almost immediately after the tragic event. The Warren Report and subsequent congressional hearings never really answered the questions, for some, of who exactly was involved and the whys. The topic is debated today just as it was decades ago. It is these unanswered questions that bring people to these sites out of sheer curiosity. 

Still today, you can walk or drive through Dealey Plaza and see visitors pointing and taking photos. It's as if they are trying to piece together the facts they have heard with the physical landscape. They try to convince themselves of what the Warren Report said occurred. Could there have been assassins behind the wood fence on the grassy knoll? Your view of that area will probably convince you that there could have been. 

Even though the historic sites described above are connected to one of America's and Dallas' darkest days, they still are part of a story that remains, to more than a few, an unsolved crime. Because these sites still exist, the curious historian in many of us have the opportunity as they say to visit the scene of the crime and perhaps come to your own conclusion.

If your travels take you to Dallas Texas I would recommend a stop at the Sixth Floor Museum as well as the other sites highlighted above. 

See additional Western Trips articles from the links below... 

Visit the Old Red Museum in Dallas, TX 

Places to Visit in Downtown Dallas 

The Interurban Railway Museum

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Visit the Sabine Pass Battlefield / Texas

We have a Texas attraction and an historical site that you'll find interesting.

A site in far southeastern Jefferson County Texas was the location of a significant Civil War battle that proved, for the time, to be a resounding victory for the Confederacy against lopsided odds. It's one of the unique historical Texas attractions found throughout the Lone Star State.

sabine pass battleground
Battleground Pavilion
Visit the Sabine Pass Battlefield State Historic Site

If your Texas vacation plans take you to far southeast Texas along the Gulf coast, make a note to visit the Sabine Pass Battlefield State Historic Site. This is at an area where the Sabine River enters the Gulf of Mexico. Today, the site is operated by the Texas Historical Commission and features a statue that honors the service of the Confederate commander of this battle.

The Sabine Pass Battlefield Historic Site is about a ninety minute drive east of Houston, TX and about a twenty minute drive south of the city of Port Arthur, Texas.

While in this area of Texas you may also want to visit nearby Sea Rim State Park. Sea Rim State Park has 5.2 miles of Gulf shoreline and 4,000 acres of marshlands. Plenty of fun things to do at this park that doesn't break the pocketbook plus camping sites are offered. Activities include birding and beach combing, paddling  in a canoe or kayak, swimming and fishing. Also a nature trail along a boardwalk through the marsh land. The park is located 20 miles south of Port Arthur on State Highway 87. The park is 10 miles west of Sabine Pass.

sabine pass mouth
Gulf of Mexico beach near Sabine Pass
Why Sabine Pass Was Important

The battle described below was the Second Battle of Sabine Pass.

Earlier, in 1862, the Union Navy was able to penetrate troops and three vessels about twelve miles up the Sabine River and destroy several Confederate positions including Fort Sabine. When they were eventually faced with a much superior Confederate force they had to back down the river and escape into the gulf.

In 1863 the Union forces still wanted to find a way to invade Texas from within. The Sabine River again presented that opportunity since the river ran north from the Gulf making it the border between Texas and Louisiana. Texas on the west and Louisiana on the east. Land enough Union troops on the west bank of the Sabine River, the Union planned, and they would begin their offensive marching west toward San Antonio and Austin.

The Confederates Face Off Against the Union Navy

The battle of Sabine Pass would take place on September 8, 1863. One of the significant facts about the Battle of Sabine Pass was the difference in troop strength between the two sides. The Union assault on Texas involved Navy vessels.and Army troops. The Army had four infantry brigades, six artillery batteries, one squadron of the Texas Union Cavalry. The U.S.Navy came to the battle with four gunboats and twenty-seven transports.

civil war gunboat
Image of a Civil War era Iron Clad Gunboat
The Confederate side consisted of forty-seven men of Company F, Texas Heavy Artillery, known as the Davis Guards in honor of President Jefferson Davis.

This looked to be a lopsided battle such as that at the Alamo decades earlier, but with a far different outcome. The Battle of Sabine Pass stands out today as being probably the most interesting Civil War battle on Texas soil.

The battle plans for the Union, which were altered several times, was to essentially go up the river and disembark the Army infantry and artillery batteries after securing the area with their gunboats. The Confederate troops, led by Lieutenant Richard William Dowling, a Houston businessman, occupied Fort Griffin along the Texas side of the Sabine River a short way upstream from the Gulf of Mexico. They would fire on Union vessels making their way up river from the pass.

Gunfire was exchanged between the Confederates at Fort Griffin and the Union gunboats. Two Union boats were to attract fire from the fort while another two were to rain cannon fire on the fort position. The Davis Guards did not waste shots but chose to pick their targets. One such target was the gunboat Sachem which was exchanging fire with Fort Griffin.

davis guards texas
Image of Lt. Richard Dowling
The Famous Shot

Stories about the Battle of Sabine Pass tell of a famous shot taken by Confederate Private Michael McKernan. McKernan was credited with putting a round from a 24 pound cannon round through the midships of the Sachem that ruptured the boiler. Many of the crew panicked and abandoned the vessel to escape the boiling steam. They would eventually be captured by Confederate troops.

The vessel Arizona accompanying the Sachem then began to retreat which gave the Davis Guards time to put the Union gunboat Clifton in their sights. Confederate fire from Fort Griffin ripped away the Clifton's wheel rope followed by a cannon shot that blew up it's boiler. This essentially marked the end of the Union assault with remaining vessels retreating back to the Gulf of Mexico. 


The end result of this ill fated Union assault saw about 75 Union casualties and about 300 Union soldiers taken as prisoners. The Union Navy lost two gunboats. As for the Confederates, no troops were lost but several had burns from their guns and gun powder.

Winning this battle for the Confederacy meant that Sabine Pass would remain open and would continue to be used as a port for their blockade running ships.

Medals were later given to Lieutenant Richard William Dowling and his Davis Guards soldiers. A commendation was also given directly from President Jefferson Davis.

You may also enjoy visiting sites on the Western Trips articles on the links below... 

Dripping Springs Texas and a Frontier Settlement

A Walking Tour of Historic Gonzales Texas

The Texas Rangers Museum and Their Historic Firearms

Drive the 13 Mile Route 66 in Kansas

sabine pass texas

Learn About Texas Civil War History

For those interested in Texas Civil War History, a stop at the Sabine Pass Battlefield Historic Site is well worth your time and a unique Texas attraction. The map left shows the area in Texas of Jefferson County.

Your self-guided tours of the Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site includes memorial features such as the statue of Lt. Richard “Dick” Dowling of the Davis Guards and a memorial to the Union casualties of the battle. You'll also see an interpretive pavilion and a scaled model of the Confederate Fort Griffin.

An excellent book and a reference for this article is...Battlefields of Texas by author Bill Groneman. Another excellent book on this subject is...Sabine Pass: The Confederacy's Thermopylae by Edward T. Cotham Jr. For those looking for detailed information about the Union vessel Sachem, see website...http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/s2/sachem-ii.htm

(Article copyright Western Trips. Photos in the public domain)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Visit San Angelo / A West Texas Adventure

Like many towns in the west, the first pioneers built settlements opposite  military forts. Dodge City, Kansas... Kearney, Nebraska and Laramie, Wyoming just to name three. At the time, military rules forbid settlements forming directly within an army fort so the next best thing was to settle adjacent or fairly close to a fort. Some type of protection against Indian raids was preferable.

fort concho events
Fort Concho reenactors
In the case of San Angelo, Texas the fort was Fort Concho which served as the headquarters for the 4th and 10th Cavalry and 16th Infantry, the buffalo soldiers. The settlement was first named San Angela, in honor of Carolina Angela de la Garza DeWitt, the deceased wife of the towns founder, Bart J. DeWitt, a merchant and businessman. Later the name was changed to San Angelo and the town grew.

Today, San Angelo is the largest city in Texas that does not have an Interstate highway running through it.

San Angelo, Texas is located about 112 miles southeast of Midland, about 200 miles northwest of Austin and about 225 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Historic Fort Concho

Fort Concho is quite historic and was a major west Texas military outpost during the days of Comanche raids. Fort Concho was established to replace Fort Chadbourne which didn't have an adequate supply of water. This new site was chosen in November 1867 at the point where the Main and North Concho rivers meet. The first name chosen for the new fort was Camp Hatch after the commander of the regiment, Major John Porter Hatch. The name was later changed to Camp Kelly for the recently deceased Major Michael J. Kelly. Finally in March 1868 the military outpost was named  Fort Concho. The fort was obviously named after the Middle and North Concho rivers which meet at San Angelo and form the Concho River.

fort concho buildings
Fort Concho old hospital building
Among other activities in and around the fort, the soldiers helped build roads in west Texas, scouted and mapped the region and skirmished with small parties of Indians. Fort Concho also played a significant role during several Indian conflicts including the 1872 campaign led by Colonel Ranald Mackenzie, the 1874 Red River War and the campaign against the Apache leader Victorio during 1879-80.

The City Takes Over the Abandoned Fort 

The army abandoned Fort Concho on June 20, 1889. This was during a period that many of the old frontier army forts were being closed throughout the west. Most of its buildings escaped demolition by being converted into civilian housing and commercial storage space.

Today, Fort Concho is owned and operated by the city of San Angelo and is a must stop during your trip to west Texas. The City took over the old fort in 1935 and started renovating the structures. The fort is kept up very well with nearly all of the original stone buildings still standing. If you like history and particularly old west history, then you'll thoroughly enjoy touring the old fort grounds.

The central parade ground is about 100 feet wide and nearly a quarter of a mile long. Original stone buildings line it's sides and the back. Seventeen of these buildings have been restored and five were reconstructed. Many of these buildings are open to the public and display a good collection of artifacts from the Indian War period. Fort Concho has been designated as a National Historic Landmark.

concho avenue san angelo texas
San Angelo's Concho Avenue
Downtown San Angelo

Downtown events in San Angelo revolve around historic events. The highest structure in the downtown area is the old Cactus Hotel which has the distinction of being the fourth hotel built by Conrad Hilton. The hotel, with its 14 stories, lavish decorations and elegant crystal ballroom, has been revitalized as the city's cultural center. The lobby has shops, art galleries and a cafe. There are no longer overnight accommodations offered in the building.

The first street in old San Angela was named Concho Avenue. Today, Concho Avenue features many shops and an antique mall offering country collectibles and memorabilia. Merchants offer a variety of art, gifts, clothing, furniture and more. The buildings and stores reflect the colorful history of San Angelo. Around every downtown corner, you'll find interesting treasures along with several historical buildings.

old historic hilton hotels
The old Cactus Hotel built by Conrad Hilton
Christmas at Fort Concho

One of the larger annual events in San Angelo is Christmas at Fort Concho. The event spans three days in early December. Included is shopping, living history and outside entertainment and a special area for children.

Included are reenactors in period clothes and military uniforms, shooting of cannons, an excellent telephone museum with an incredibly large collection of antique and experimental telephone gear over 100 years old, exhibits within the old fort hospital building and vendors spread all around the parade grounds. It's an event not to be missed if you're anywhere around San Angelo in early December.

See additional Western Trips articles on the links below...

The Red River Valley Museum

Visit Palo Duro Canyon Texas 

texas murals
Mural in downtown San Angelo, Texas
The Murals in San Angelo

San Angelo's artists have created beautiful and creative historic murals which adorn the downtown area. Historic Murals of San Angelo, Inc. is an exclusively charitable and educational organization.which makes the creation of these murals possible with donations. "The History of Transportation in San Angelo" became the first mural sponsored by Historic Murals of San Angelo, Inc.

The murals tell the story of the history of San Angelo from the old west frontier days including Fort Concho and it's commanders to the twentieth century with murals depicting activities at San Angelo's Goodfellow Air Force Base. When you visit downtown San Angelo, Texas you can't miss seeing these unique murals. 

(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Battle of Gonzales / The Start of the Texas Revolution

The Battle of Gonzales at today's Gonzales Texas represented the first confrontation of the historic Texas War of Independence. This was the place where the first shots of the Texas Revolution were fired and it involved a cannon in possession of the Texans. This early Battle at Gonzales, which over the course of the next three months drove all the Mexican troops out of the province, brought forth the motto "Come and Take It". It was also the inspiration for the creation of a Come and Take It flag.

battle of gonzalesThe Texas Revolution  was the war which began in Gonzales Texas in October 1835...saw the Alamo in San Antonio de Bexar fall to Santa Anna's army on March 6, 1836 and then finally ended with the defeat of the Mexicans at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

The Texas victory and the defeat of Santa Anna and the Mexican Army marked the beginning of the Republic of Texas..

Visit Gonzales Texas

You'll find plenty of attractions in Gonzales, Texas which is about a 65 mile drive south of Austin and about a 74 mile drive east of San Antonio.

Visitors to Gonzales each October have the opportunity to attend a reenactment of the Battle of Gonzales. The historic reenactment is part of the Come and Take It Celebration held the first weekend of October. This is a large event with art and craft booths, a flying chicken contest, a big parade, a classic car show and of course the reenactment of the Battle of Gonzales.

Observing the battle reenactment is both fun and educational. Mexican uniforms and weaponry worn by the actors are period correct as are the dress and weaponry of the Texans. The battle shows advancements and retreats of the front lines and even a parley between the two commanders during a lull in the fighting.

The start of the Texas Revolution is reenacted the first Saturday in October at Gonzales Pioneer Village Living History Center just north of town.

texas revolution reenactments
Texas Volunteers at the reenactment
The Battle of Gonzales / Seeking a Cannon

Tensions had been building between the Mexican government led by Santa Anna and the Texans. Everything came to a head when the Mexican dictator Santa Anna sent a Mexican commander by the name of Francisco De Casteneda to retrieve a cannon from the residents of Gonzales. The cannon had been in Gonzales primarily as a defense against Comanche Indian attack. The commander was directed to avoid warfare if possible.

After leaving for Gonzales on September 27th Casteneda and his dragoons reached the west bank of the Guadalupe River opposite Gonzales on September 29th. He couldn't proceed further because of high water and Texan militiamen on the east bank. Casteneda announced that he had a dispatch regarding the cannon for the alcalde of Gonzales but was told he was away from town. The Mexicans then made camp several hundred yards back from the river. While they made camp the Texans rallied forces from the Guadeloupe, the Colorado and the Brazos for added strength. In the meantime the Mexican commander was informed by an Indian that the Texans were assembling a force of about 140 men.

war for texas independence
Mexican soldiers at reenactment
Commander Castaneda decided to try to cross the river at a place not so well defended. As a result he made a new camp about seven miles upriver. Regarding the disputed cannon, the Texans at Gonzales then sent word to the Mexican commander to "Come and Take It."

Time For A Confrontation

On October 2, 1835, the Battle of Gonzales began slowly. With the Mexican camping about seven miles upriver and the Texan volunteers tired of waiting for the Mexicans to make their move, the Texans themselves went upriver toward the Mexican encampment.

See the Western Trips articles on the links below...

A Walking Tour of Historic Gonzales Texas

Visit the Missions in San Antonio Texas

Lockhart Texas / History and the Barbeque Capital  

Visit the Inner Space Caverns / Georgetown, TX

Historic House on Gonzales Walking Tour
You'll find plenty of information regarding the Texas Revolution in excellent books such as...Tejanos in the 1935 Texas Revolution by author L. MacDonald..... Texas Revolutionary Experience: A Political and Social History , 1835-1836, by author Paul D. Lack.....Encyclopedia of the Alamo and the Texas Revolution by author Thom Hatch.

The Texans didn't wish to wait for the possible arrival of Mexican reinforcements which probably wouldn't have come anyways since the Mexican's orders were to secure the settlement's cannon and not specifically engage with a large Texan force.

About 50 Texans along with the cannon set out to approach the Mexican encampment upstream in dense fog. Their presence nearby was announced when a dog started barking and the Mexican sentries started to fire wounding one Texan slightly. When the Texans eventually returned fire with their cannon loaded with scrap metal and a charge, the Texas Revolution was officially underway.

come and take it gonzales texas
A parley between the two sides during the reenactment
A Mexican soldier was wounded and Commander Castaneda opted to return to San Antonio rather than continue the engagement. This is not so surprising since Castaneda's orders were to simply retrieve the small cannon and not particularly engage in battle. Prior to that engagement there was not a state of war between the Texas colonists and the Mexican government.

This confrontation in Gonzales led to the muster of the first Texian Republican Army with Stephen F. Austin as Commander.

Attractions in Gonzales Texas

Visiting Gonzales, Texas is a fun and educational side trip to any Texas vacation or weekend trip. In addition to the annual Come and Get It Celebration and the battle reenactment you'll have the opportunity to view several historic buildings and take an enjoyable walking tour of some of the historic Victorian houses built during the town's growing years of the late 1800's.

Also, you may want to check out some of the fine B & B's in Gonzales, Texas. These include the Belle Oaks Inn at http://www.belleoaksinn.com/ ...the St. James Inn at http://www.stjamesinn.com/...and the Boothe House B & B at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Boothe-House-Bed-Breakfast/192514074156808
(Article and photos copyright Western Trips)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A Texas Hill Country Wine Tour

The Texas Hill Country is found across the undulating Edwards Plateau. Austin is to the east and San Antonio to the south. You'll find plenty of attractions in the Texas Hill Country region and we are featuring in this article one of those popular attractions.

The Hill Country might very well be the most popular part of the large state of Texas and some will tell you like nowhere else in the world. Limestone hills, winding creeks and rivers carve out this unique part of Texas. Oak trees and mesquite offer welcomed shade in the spring and summer. Beautiful bluebonnets, poppies and other wildflowers cover this hilly countryside

bell springs winery
Bell Springs Winery tasting room
These days wineries are almost as numerous in the Hill Country as ranch windmills. The Texas Hill Country is the third-largest American Viticultural Area. It's said larger than any in California.

Bell Springs Winery

Our tour of the Texas Hill Country wineries takes us to the Bell Springs Winery located just west of the town of  Dripping Springs. The winery is only about a 28 mile drive west of downtown Austin.

To reach Bell Springs Winery from Austin, take Highway 290 West towards Dripping Springs/Fredericksburg.  Take a right turn at Bell Springs Road (just past middle school on your left).  Bell Springs Winery will be 3 miles up on Bell Springs Road on your left hand side.

texas hill country wineries
Tables among the trees at Bell Springs Winery
Bell Springs Winery is owned and operated by a husband and wife team. The wine offered is excellent and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

The winery and tasting room sits on the lower part of the property, with great views of the hundreds of  oak and cedar trees.  Visitors can stroll around the grounds or relax the afternoon away on Bell Spring's covered deck or concrete patio. Bell Springs Winery also offers a calendar of live music performances on generally a once a week basis.

Visitors are encouraged to bring along a lunch and relax and enjoy the outdoor patio area. Bell Springs Winery also offers a fine selection of olive oil. You'll also be able to find locally made candles and soaps, books about the Austin area and several great wine lover gifts.

Texas Hills Vineyard

Located near Johnson City, Texas in the Pedernales River Valley, the Texas Hills Vineyard utilizes sustainable organic methods to grow their vineyard. The tasting room itself was built employing environmentally friendly methods. It is very worth going a bit out of your way to visit this absolutely gorgeous vineyard and winery outside Johnson City. The outdoor patio is nicely shaded for hot summer days, and the grounds are beautifully kept. The enclosed patio seats up to 65 people with picturesque views overlooking the Vineyard.

Texas Hills Vineyard
Texas Hills Vineyard produces a full range of award winning wine. They planted their vineyard in 1995 and the winery opened in 1999. Texas Hills Vineyard utilizes only Texas sourced grapes for their wines. Texas Hills features 100% Texas grapes.

There was one  wine offered that was a collaboration with another Texas winemaker.  Grapes grown in their vineyard include Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Orange Muscat, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, and Syrah.

The tasting room consists of a medium sized circular bar surrounded by a gift shop and a section with some refrigerated snacks. Texas Hills Vineyard also has a full calendar of events open to the public. Locally made artisan cheeses and crackers are available in the tasting room.

You may also enjoy the Western Trips articles on the links below... 

Dripping Springs and a Pioneer Texas Settlement

Visit Historic Llano Texas 

See the Bluebonnets of Burnet Texas 

Visit San Angelo / A West Texas Adventure

There are several good books on the market regarding Texas Hill Country wine. Some of these include...The Texas Hill Country: A Food and Wine Lover's Paradise, 2nd edition, by author Terry Thompson-Amderson. Another is...The Wine Roads of Texas: An Essential Guide to Texas Wines and Wineries, by author Wes Marshall.

 texas wineries
Grounds overlooking vineyard
The Texas Hill Country features many unique wineries that make excellent weekend trips or parts of longer vacations.Bell Springs Winery and Texas Hills Vineyard are but two. A good resource for maps of Texas wine tours including those in and outside of the Hill Country is website...http://www.texaswineandtrail.com/driving-maps/

The Texas Hills Vineyard is located about a 25 mile drive west of Bell Springs Winery in Dripping Springs and about a 53 mile drive west of Austin. Their address is 878 Ranch Road 2766, Johnson City, TX. 

From Austin you would drive west on Hwy 290 through Dripping Springs and west to Johnson City. Turn right off of Hwy 290 to Hwy 281. Drive north on Hwy 281 to Robinson Rd (FM 2766). The entrance to the winery is just about one-half mile down Robinson Rd. on the right hand side. 

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Visit the World Famous Desert Botanical Garden / Phoenix Arizona

Attractions in Arizona are plentiful and on your next visit to the Phoenix/Scottsdale area you'll want to add the following venue to your trip planner. The Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix Arizona is the world's largest displaying plants and trees from many of the world's desert regions. This is truly a living museum with over 50,00 plants on display. About one-third of the plants are from the local area. A visit to the 140 acre Desert Botanical Garden is a must if you're anywhere near the Phoenix area.

desert botanical garden
Desert Botanical Garden
An Amazing Collection

Located in the Sonoran Desert of southern Arizona, the Desert Botanical Garden displays over 4,000 different species of desert plants with an emphasis on the Sonoran Desert. Also included is are 400 rare and endangered plant species.

The Garden's cacti collection is one of the largest in the world. Many people of course don't reside in a desert region and a visit to this amazing living museum is a fun and educational experience. It's a great place to come and learn about, and view, desert plants as they thrive in a natural environment and in an absolutely beautiful setting. The upkeep of the Garden is impeccable.

The Garden offers five thematic trails/paths for you to stroll along and most of the plants have information and name signs. The trails include The Desert Discovery Trail (the Garden's main trail)  The Plants and People of the Sonoran Desert Trail, The Sonoran Desert Nature Trail, The Center fro desert Living Trail and The Harriet K. Maxwell Desert Wildflower Trail. There is also a gift shop and restaurant (Gertrude's) to visit after your walking tour. There are also docent led Garden tours that are part of your general admission to the park.

The Desert Botanical Garden is located around the buttes of Papago Park. The address is 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, AZ. A general information phone number is 480-481-8188.

desert plants arizonaThe Beginning

The Desert Botanical Garden was established in 1939 by a group of local citizens, including environmentalist Gertrude Divine Webster, intent on protecting and conserving the desert environment. They had formed the Arizona Cactus and Native Flora Society several years prior to the Garden's opening.. When the Garden began with a limited budget, volunteers were much needed and they helped create and  make the garden what it is today. Volunteers are still an important part of the Garden's operations.

The Desert Botanical Garden has stated...The Garden’s commitment to the community is to advance excellence in education, research, exhibition and conservation of desert plants of the world with emphasis on the Southwestern United States.

Research is another important undertaking at the Garden. Ongoing research includes evolutionary biology, ecology, plant systematics and conservation biology. Educational opportunities at the Garden include workshops, field trips and classes for every skill level.

The Butterfly Pavilion

If you've ever wanted to know more about butterflies while having them flutter all around you, then the Butterfly Pavilion at the Desert Botanical Garden is not to be missed.

The Marshall Butterfly Pavilion features hundreds of butterflies housed in an enclosed lush garden setting.

The Butterfly Exhibit is in progress every spring and fall. From March and into May marks the spring exhibits and late September through late November mark the fall dates. During the fall only Monarch butterflies are seen.

attractions in phoenix museums
Special Events and Exhibits

The Desert Botanical Garden schedules seasonal events, special exhibits, activities for the entire family and concerts

One seasonal event is called Las Noches de las Luminarias. This year 2014 will be the 37th year of this very sixteen night popular event. More than 8,000 hand lit luminarias will cast a beautiful glow to the Garden. The event will also have ten groups of entertainers. Dates for 2014 are December 5th through the 23rd.

You may also enjoy the Western Trips articles on the links below...

A Visit to Old Town Scottsdale Arizona

A Visit to Old Town Tucson

Another special event at the Desert Botanical Garden is called Dogs' Day in the Garden where the whole family can stroll through the park and even bring along the family dog. Included are presentations about dog safety in the desert environment and healthy dog treats. Your dog will also be able to sample dog food and dog treats from vendors.

botanical gardensAnother typical event held at the Garden is Accounting For Nature: Past, Present and Future. This particular event features an expert discussing the irreplaceable benefits people gain from nature such as clean water, productive soils, an equable climate, aesthetics and health.

One of the Best Destinations in Phoenix

A visit to the beautiful grounds of the Desert Botanical Garden is a must while in the Phoenix area. Each person visiting will want to spend at least two hours at the Garden and chances are you'll want to stay longer since there's plenty to see of cactus, trees, desert flowers.Each area of the garden was creatively set up, easy to learn from with the signage and the trails are big enough for people to walk through with little crowding.

It's always a good thing to bring a hat, sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes and liquids to drink to keep hydrated. Water stations are located in many areas of the Garden.

Visit the Garden and enjoy specialized tours, special events, seasonal exhibits, concerts, family activities, Gertrude's restaurant, Patio CafĂ© and the Garden's gift and plant shop. 

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sedona's Cathedral Rock Hike / Red Rock Crossing

While thousands of people visit Sedona Arizona's Red Rock Crossing annually, it's amazing how many people have not. This by far is one of the top attractions in Sedona. Set among rich red rocks and brush-speckled ridges, Red Rock Crossing is a colorful must-see during your stay in Sedona. It's really a part of Sedona Arizona you don't want to miss experiencing. At Red Rock Crossing you'll find one of the most recognizable images of Sedona known all around the world, Cathedral Rock.

sedona hiking
View of Oak creek along the hiking trail
To reach Red Rock Crossing take Highway 89A west to the Upper Red Rock Loop Road and head south. From this point look for the signs. Red Rock Crossing is open daily sunrise to sunset.

For starters, this is probably one of the most photographed places in the Southwest. Red Rock Crossing  is located about seven miles southwest of downtown Sedona.

Because of it's popularity, Red Rock Crossing can become crowded at times but if you come early in the morning or on a weekday, it's possible to enjoy the world class beauty of Red Rock Crossing minus the crowds.

The elevation in this area is about 4,000 feet. Red Rock Crossing is as popular as it is beautiful with it's red rock backdrop. People come here to fish, swim, and wade in the creek, as well as to picnic and photograph the scenery.

Crescent Moon Ranch Hike at Red Rock Crossing

The Crescent Moon Ranch hike at Red Rock Crossing is a relatively easy hike. The one way distance is three-quarters of a mile and a round trip usually takes about one hour. The trail is flat and runs along the meandering Oak Creek. This trail is perfect for beginners and anyone looking for an easy yet very scenic hike. The trail is excellent for a family outing.and there is a good amount of parking available at Red Rock Crossing at Crescent Moon Ranch.

sedona hiking trails
Wooded section of Crescent Moon Ranch Trail
Along the hiking trail you'll come across dozens of rock cairns that look like a miniature Stonehenge. These are stacked rocks erected by believers to take advantage of the vortex found there for meditating and chanting.

You can hike on either side of Oak Creek on wooded trails. The trail on the south side of the creek will lead you all the way to the top of Cathedral Rock, offering breathtaking views. The trail to the top of Cathedral Rock is not one for people with a fear of heights.

Climbing Cathedral Rock

 The climb up Cathedral Rock is entirely different than the flat trail along the creek. The climb is steep and may not be appropriate for children. You can easily hike to it, just not up it. If you do decide to climb up it look for the white lines to help guide you to the easiest route. The path is clearly marked by both white paint stripes on the ground and piles of rock in chicken wire cages. There are plenty of places to just stop and rest for a few minutes if you choose and simply enjoy the view while you catch your breath. The views from the top are worth the climb.

Crescent Moon Ranch 

Crescent Moon Ranch was a working ranch that was donated to the National Forest Service in the mid 1900's. 

Crescent Moon Ranch is an exceptional year-round place to stay in beautiful Sedona. The central Arizona facility is a rustic, historic ranch house adjacent to Oak Creek and near the base of the towering Cathedral Rock.

crescent moon ranch trail sedona
Rock cairns
For those who wish to take in the scenery at Red Rock Crossing for more than just a day trip, check out the ranch house at Crescent Moon Ranch. There is an old ranch house at Crescent Moon Ranch that is available for both day and overnight use

The National Forest Service describes the facilities as follows...

Please remember that this is a rustic historic ranch house and not a modern hotel. It is a cabin in the forest and very old. It was built by ranchers of the original homestead and made available for public use by the US Forest Service. Your careful stay and light hand so as to not cause any further wear on the premises is most appreciated.

With three bedrooms, three bathrooms, a large great room, two kitchens and an enclosed sun porch, there is plenty of room. Maximum capacity for the house is 10 people for overnight use (one queen bed/2 double beds/ 1 bunk bed with a full size bed and a twin bed and one futon in the living room). The house may be rented for day use as well. Day use capacity is 25 people (ideal for weddings and other day gatherings). Electricity and running water are provided. The old ranch house reservations are handled by the National Park Service.

See the Western Trips articles on the links below...

Visit Sedona's Architectural Wonder / The Chapel of the Holy Cross

Visit the Ancient Arizona Montezuma Castle

Visit the Desert Botanical Garden / Phoenix

sedona red rocks
Red rock views from the hiking trail
For more details of the accommodations, what to bring with you and rates see website...http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/coconino/recreation/camping-cabins/recarea/?recid=72113&actid=101

Another website with detailed information is...http://www.recreation.gov/camping/crescent-moon-ranch

For more information about Crescent Moon Picnic Area or Crescent Moon Ranch Cabin you can also contact the Red Rock Ranger District, 928-282-4119.

Sedona is one of the top destinations in Arizona. Sedona attractions offer some of the most scenic hiking in North America, tremendous photo opportunities, unique shopping and dining, back road jeep tours, historic sites, architectural wonders and mysterious vortexes. If you've already visited Sedona chances are you've already been back. If you haven't visited this area of Arizona make certain you do. You won't be disappointed.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips)

Sunday, October 19, 2014

One of the Seven Man-Made Wonders of Arizona / Sedona's Chapel of the Holy Cross

Among the beautiful and stunning red rock scenery of Sedona Arizona is perhaps one of the most unique chapels found anywhere on the North American continent. The Chapel of the Holy Cross was constructed in 1956 but it's story goes back many years before that.

chapel of the holy cross sedona
The Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, AZ
Envisioning a Chapel

The idea of this chapel in this place actually goes all the way back to 1932 when New Yorker,  Marguerite Bruswig Staude was inspired by the newly built Empire State Building. Staude was a sculptress, philanthropist, and devout Catholic. She was also an informal student of architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Staude began envisioning a chapel with a cross as the central supporting structure. At first the idea was to build in Europe along the Danube but political unrest at that time dampened a European project.

After visiting Sedona Arizona, Staude, like many, was captivated by it's red rock beauty and decided that the chapel should be built there. As you can clearly see, Staude's design for the chapel actually made it a part of the natural landscape as could possibly be done. Marguerite Bruswig Staude considered the chapel her greatest artistic life achievement.

The Construction of an Architectural Masterpiece

The Chapel of the Holy Cross was constructed on a twin pinnacled spur of red rocks 250 feet high, jutting out of a thousand foot red rock wall. The chapel forms a framed cross and is enclosed by four large windows looking out over Sedona´s stunning red rocks. It took about one and one half years to build at a cost of $300,000. Building this type of structure at this location was certainly not an easy task.

sedona chapel
Chapel entrance
The Chapel received an award from the American Institute of Architects in 1957. Citizens of Arizona also named the Chapel of the Holy Cross one of the Seven Man-Made Wonders of Arizona in 2007. The chapel in Sedona had been featured in several publications including the New York Times and Life Magazine.

As you can see from it's photos, the chapel is surprisingly modern and contemporary even though it was built almost sixty years ago.The Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona is one of the finest examples of building into the natural landscape. The balance and confidence the chapel holds with the landscape is remarkable.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross is built on Coconino National Forest land and a special use permit was acquired with the help of then Senator Barry Goldwwater. The project architect was Richard Hein and the design was executed by August K. Strotz, both employed by the well known firm of Anshen & Allen

Visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona

arizona chapel of the holy cross
Chapel interior
Talk a stroll inside Marguerite Bruswig Staude and Richard Hein’s inspiring structure, wedged between a twin-pinnacle spur in Oak Creek Valley. Today, the Chapel of the Holy Cross is one of the most visited attractions in Sedona and well worth a place on your Arizona trip planner. Thousands of people visit it annually and the photo opportunities from this location are some of the best in the Sedona area.

Just viewing the architecture of this one of a kind chapel and how it was built in the red rocks of Sedona is well worth a visit.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross does not have regular services held however there is an informal prayer session every Monday at 5P with the exception of when Christmas falls on a Monday.

You may also enjoy the Western Trips Arizona articles on the links below...

Attractions in Arizona / Prescott

Hiking Sedona's Crescent Moon Ranch Trail

A Visit to Flagstaff's Lowell Observatory

La Posada in Winslow Arizona

An excellent guide book for the Sedona Arizona area includes...Sedona Arizona Red Rock Country Tour Guide Book: Your personal tour guide for Sedona travel adventure! by Waypoint Tours.

sedona arizona attractions
The stunning red rocks on the way to the chapel
Marguerite Bruswig Staude bequeathed the chapel to the Catholic Church. The Diocese of Phoenix and St John Vianney parish are the caretakers of the Chapel. Regardless of  your faith, all people are welcomed to visit, meditate or pray there. There is a small gift shop on the floor underneath the chapel. As of this writing Chapel of the Holy Cross hours are 9A-5P daily except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Good Friday and Easter.

When visiting the Chapel of the Holy Cross it is important to wear comfortable walking shoes. It's a steep climb from the parking area to the Chapel. If you require it, there is also a parking area at the top for the physically challenged.

Directions to the Chapel of the Holy Cross are as follows. From Highway 89A, take Highway 179 south from Sedona toward the Village of Oak Creek. Turn left on Chapel Road. The Chapel of the Holy Cross is at the end of the road. The formal address is 780 Chapel Rd., Sedona, Arizona.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips)

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A Walking Tour of Historic Gonzales Texas

Gonzales Texas was established in 1825 on Kerr Creek, 2 1/2 miles east of the confluence of the San Marcos and Guadalupe Rivers. It was the capital of Empresario Green DeWitt’s Colony which started in 1825 and was the westernmost Anglo settlement until the close of the Texas Revolution of which it played a large role.

come and take it gonzales texasGonzales is perhaps the most historic town in all of Texas. It was here in Gonzales that the opening shots of the Texas Revolution were fired. The story goes back to 1831 when the Mexican government sent Gonzales a six-pound cannon as protection against the Comanches. This cannon was later used in the ‘Come and Take It’ Battle on October 2, 1835, firing the first shot in the Texas Revolution against Mexican rule.

 The battle was set off when a group of Mexican soldiers demanded that the cannon be returned to them and of course the Anglo settlers resisted. The cannon was never returned and the Mexican soldiers returned to San Antonio.

Some forty-one members of the Gonzales settlement died at the Alamo including the "Immortal 32" who answered the call for help from William Travis during that famous battle.

Every year Gonzales celebrates the "Come and Take It" event which includes parades, arts and crafts, a classic car show and of course a reenactment of the battle named "Come and Take It".

historic buildings gonzales texas
Randle-Rather Building
Gonzales Becomes a Large Financial Center

Fast forward about 40 years and Gonzales Texas finds itself as a financial center where people earned large fortunes in cotton and cattle. Cotton growing in particular was a major industry in Gonzales and the surrounding areas. These large fortunes resulted in large mansions being built. Today over 80 properties have been documented and many of these large homes have been wonderfully preserved for over 100 years.

Something very unique about Gonzales Texas is that the town was originally built on seven public squares laid out in the shape of a cross. The names of the squares have had several names through the years, but the layout today is the same as in 1832.

Confederate Square

Located at the intersection of N. St. Joseph and St. George Street, Confederate Square honors the soldiers killed while serving in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The monument (by sculptor Frank Teich) was dedicated in 1909 through the efforts of Chapter 546 of United Daughters of the Confederacy, Gonzales, Texas.

See the Historic Homes 

historic homes texas
J.D. Houston House
Take the self-guided walking/driving tour that points out the historic homes and buildings built at the turn of the century.  The 1.3 mile tour includes several historic homes, landmarks and other buildings in Gonzales. Complete information about the tour, both the walking and longer driving tour, is available at the visitor center located in the Old Jail Museum.

The frame homes are built of cypress shipped from the Florida/Louisiana coastal area to the Texas port of Indianola. The material was then hauled by ox-cart to Gonzales. Cypress was preferred because cypress seldom rotted and was rarely damaged by termites. Many of the brick homes and buildings are built from brick made by the Sunset Brick Company, which operated in Gonzales for a very long time, from the early 1880s through the mid 1970s..

Below are just a few of the historic homes and building in Gonzales, Texas

The J.D. Houston House

James Dunn Houston was the brother of  W.B. Houston, and built this Queen Anne-style house in 1898.  The mansion construction started three years earlier in 1895. The house has fifteen main rooms, five bathrooms and several halls and walkways. Each of the main rooms has it's own uniquely designed fireplace. The house foyer  still has two canvas wall murals that were bought in New Orleans when the house was constructed.

historic homes gonzales texas
J.B. Kennard House
Dunn was another of Gonzales’ early cattle barons. In 1900 he sold his house, moved to San Antonio and went into the banking business. The house is located at 619 St. Lawrence St.

The J.B. Kennard House

James Blake Kennard was born June 24, 1861 in Plantersville, Texas. J.B. Kennard was a lumberman and built this Queen Anne style home in 1895. The two story house with a large attic features fishtail shingles, clapboard siding and glass and pottery-chip mosaics in the gables. The entrance windows in the cupola and dining room are French beveled glass topped by Tiffany leaded glass.

The St. James Inn

The St. James Inn is a bed & breakfast in one of Gonzales Texas' historic homes. The three story home with 10,000 square feet was built circa 1914.  The home was built by the children of a cattle baron named L.M. Kokernot. The cattleman died in 1914 and his children wanted to build a house in the town so their mother wouldn't have  to continue living on the ranch.

L. M. Kokernot was one of Gonzales' first and largest cattle barons. The rooms are large and elegant. The property opened as a B & B in 1989 after renovations were completed returning the house to it's original splendor. The home and B and B is located at 723 St. James Street.

See the Western Trips articles on the links below... 

Visit Lockhart Texas / History and the Barbecue Capital

The King Ranch / One of the World's Largest

b & b gonzales texas
St. James Inn
The Randle-Rather Building

The Randle-Rather Building, shown above, was constructed in 1895 by two Gonzales business leaders, James Polk Randle and Charles Taylor Rather. The architecture is of Italianate Renaissance Revival style and  housed the Gonzales National Bank as well as several other businesses. The building is still a major structure in downtown Gonzales, Texas. The building is at the corner of St. Paul and St. George Streets

If your Texas travels take you anywhere near Gonzales, Texas, you will be glad that you added a stop there to your Texas vacation planner. Gonzales offers so many historic sites that highlight it's very early days during the Texas Revolution as well as it's growth into a large financial center based primarily on cotton and cattle. Gonzales offers some of the finest architectural examples of the late 1800's. 

Gonzales, Texas is located approximately 65 miles south of Austin and 70 miles east of San Antonio. 

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips)

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Visit Lockhart Texas / History and the Barbeque Capital

If you happen to be looking for the official "Barbeque Capital of Texas" , you need to travel no further than the community of Lockhart. In addition to the terrific barbeque offered at Lockhart, the city also has a rich history and was the site of a battle in 1840 involving the famed Texas Rangers. Lockhart also has many historic old buildings still lining it's square and we've included several photos of these in this article.

Caldwell County Courthouse
Located in and being the county seat of Caldwell County Texas, the city is named after Byrd Lockhart who it is said was a surveyor and also the first Anglo to enter Caldwell County.

Lockhart, Texas is located about 38 miles south of Austin and about 70 miles northeast of San Antonio.

The Great Raid and The Battle of Plum Creek

The history part of Lockhart includes the distinction of being the site of what was called the Battle of Plum Creek. This was a battle between a large Comanche war party and the Texas Rangers.

Prior to this battle, the Comanches engaged in an epic raid against Texas settlers. The raid was so immense that many bands of Comanches drove all the way southeast through Victoria and onward to the then port town of Indianola on the Gulf of Mexico. This raid is considered to be the largest by Indian tribes against white towns and settlements in the history of the United States. The raid was revenge for what the Comanches had believed was a betrayal at what was called the Council House Fight that killed several of their leaders.

Chisholm Trail Ballroom
All of this occurred in early August of 1840. The Indians looted towns and homes all along the way and had collected a good deal of bullion, livestock and plunder. Texas Rangers companies along with volunteers from settlements such as Gonzales and Bastrop made plans to intercept the Indians during their return westward. All of this did come to a head when the Comanches were confronted by the Texans at Plum Creek near today's Lockhart, Texas on August 12, 1840.

The Chisholm Trail Ballroom shown in this photo is officially the oldest building around the Lockhart Texas square.

The Indians were slowed by all of the plunder they were hauling back to west Texas and this allowed the Texans to catch up with them. The battle at Plum Creek was reported to be a running gun fight where the Texans were trying to kill Comanches and recover loot at the same time. It is said that perhaps eighty Comanches were killed in the fighting however the vast majority of the raiders did escape. The Texans it seems after finding the stolen bullion cut off their pursuit to collect and divide up the loot. As a consequence the majority of the Indian raiders escaped by riding away at top speed to the west.

Lockhart's A.L.B. Bldg built in 1901
The battle site is located a few miles north of the Lockhart State Park. The park was created by the Civilian Conservation Corps between 1935 and 1938 from donated land. The park address is 4179 State Park Road. To reach Lockhart State Park, drive one mile south of Lockhart on U.S. Highway 183 to FM 20; then travel southwest on FM 20 for two miles to Park Road 10 and continue one mile south on Park Road 10

Some of the Absolute Best Barbeque in Texas

What you need to know is that if your travels take you anywhere near Lockhart, Texas you want to make an effort to visit this town. Here you cannot go wrong with Texas barbeque. In fact, we'll say this could very well be the best barbeque you ever enjoyed.

You may also enjoy the Western Trips articles on the links below... 

Visit Austin Texas' Famous Driskill Hotel

Visit the Old Frontier Settlement of Dripping Springs Texas

Tour the Historic Menger Hotel in San Antonio

A Walking Tour of Historic Gonzales Texas

Lockhart's Ray Bldg from 1898
The facts regarding barbecue in Lockhart is that there are four BBQ restaurants in Lockhart. The restaurants estimate that about 5,000 people visit their establishments each week. This would come to about 250,000 people a year who eat BBQ in Lockhart.

Lockharts four BBQ restaurants include Black's Barbeque at 215  N. Main Street. Black's opened in 1932 and is one of the oldest barbeque restaurants in the state and has been owned by the same family since it's founding. Go through the line for your sides, then your barbeque meat choice and you'll have a choice of eating inside or at picnic tables on the grass on the north side of the building.

Another is Chisholm Trail Barbeque located at 1323 S. Colorado. This popular restaurant opened it's doors in 1978. This is a famous Texas barbecue including fajitas and special sides in a cafeteria-style setting.

Black's Barbecue, Lockhart, TX
Kreuz Barbeque is unique whereas the beef, sausage or pork is served on brown butcher paper. No sides are offered. Sauce is another thing that is not an option at Kreuz. The owners feel that good barbeque doesn't require sauce. The restaurant is located at 619 N. Colorado

The fourth barbeque restaurant in Lockhart Texas is Smitty's Market. Smitty's is located at 208 S. Commerce and is noted for great barbeque. Walk to the back and order your meat from the people who will weigh it for you. Take your meat inside then order sides and drinks.

(Article and photos copyright 2014 Western Trips)