Friday, August 18, 2006

Hurricane Alicia, now only a footnote

Twenty three years ago today Hurricane Alicia crashed through the Texas Coastline. Folks in Galveston, Seabrook, and Baytown remember it well.

21 people lost their lives. Another 3000 were injured or became ill. The Red Cross sheltered or fed 63,000 people. Over 2000 homes were destroyed and another 3,000 suffered major damage. Over 18,000 families suffered some kind of loss. The price tag for the costliest hurricane in Texas History: over $2 billion.

In Baytown, Alicia brought the end to the Brownwood subdivision, which had been slowly subsiding into the bay.

In downtown Houston, shards of glass became deadly missiles when hundreds of window panes were broken out of skyscrapers by gravel blown from nearby rooftops. The windows were designed to withstand hurricane winds but not impact
from debris. The result was huge piles of broken glass in the streets below.

On Galveston's West Beach, Alicia moved the public beach boundary back an average of 150'. The storm surge scoured up to 5' of sand from the beach and left several homes in front of the natural vegetation line and technically on the public beach.
Read more from USA Today

Some photos from Alicia

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Hubbard, Texas 125 Years Old

Hill County Town of Hubbard turns 125

The town was once called Slap Out.

Central Texans who have passed through the Hill County town of Hubbard are probably unaware that it was once named for a store whose owner apparently had trouble keeping his shelves stocked.

The community’s moniker stuck until 1881 when a rail depot was opened and the town was officially founded as Hubbard, according to the Handbook of Texas Online. The town was named for former Texas governor Richard B. Hubbard, who was present at the depot dedication.

On Saturday, the 1,500-resident city celebrates its 125th birthday with a daylong party at the city park.

Read full article from the Waco Tribune

Early 1900s street view of Hubbard, Texas from Texas Old Photos

Azle Cemetery Vandals Caught

Teens Arrested for Destruction in Ash Creek Cemetery

Five teenagers have been arrested on suspicion of vandalizing more than 70 graves -- and causing an estimated $100,000 in damages -- at Azle's Ash Creek Cemetery, police said.

"It was damage for damage's sake," Azle police Chief Steve Myers said of the crime spree Wednesday night. "They pushed over headstones, broke others, threw the broken pieces at other headstones and destroyed stone vases meant for flowers."

The cemetery is the oldest in Azle, with graves dating back to the 1870s. The man the town is named after, Azle Stewart, is buried there.

Read full article from the Star Telegram

Angelina County: Looking to Go Wet

Great Grandpa Would be Rolling Over in His Grave

Across South, Push Is On to Make Dry Areas Wet

The issue is now playing out in Lufkin, an old railroad town in the heart of the Texas Bible Belt 115 miles northeast of Houston. On a recent Monday night, 175 citizens gathered at the town’s civic center to voice their opposition to a referendum proposal, scheduled for a vote in November, that would allow sales of beer and wine in stores and drinks in restaurants all across Angelina County. Lufkin is the county’s largest town, with 35,000 people.

Read full article from the New York Times

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Palo Duro Canyon - an Awesome Place

Palo Duro Canyon is one awesome hole on the ground

Leon Hale visits Palo Duro Canyon.

PALO DURO CANYON — My guess is that a great many Texans don't know that this great hole in the ground exists.

My guess is that he's right.

Read the article from today's Houston Chronicle.

Visit Leon Hale's blog at:

Monday, August 07, 2006

Cross Plains: Rising from the Ashes

It's been seven months since a wildfire devastated the small Central Texas town of Cross Plains, killing two elderly women, destroying 117 homes, levelling the United Methodist Church, and changing life in this town of 1000 people.

After a million dollars in donations, volunteers from various Texas churches, work crews from the prisons near Abilene, much hard work, determination and prayer, Cross Plains has made a comeback.

Read the story in today's Houston Chronicle.

And, two different stories in from yesterday's Fort Worth Star Telegram that are being picked up in newspapers from California to North Dakota to Pennsylvania.
On Solid Foundation, Up from the Ashes

The second article features an interview with our friend and Cross Plains Volunteer Fire Chief Bob Harrell.

On a side note, among the list of churches taking turns furnishing lunch for the workers at the First Baptist Church in Cross Plains is the Cottonwood Baptist Church, from the community of Cottonwood, about 100 people, a few miles north of Cross Plains. The Cottonwood Volunteer Fire Control Group was one of the first responders to the Dec 27, 2005 Cross Plains fire.

More about Cottonwood at

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

History of Fort Davis & the Davis Mountians

They used to be the Apache Mountains...

A Look at the History of the Davis Mountains from, part of a continuing series about the "Triangle" area of Alpine, Fort Davis and Marfa

They were not called the Davis Mountains until after Fort Davis was established in 1854. They were the Apache Mountains then because that's who owned them.

War chiefs Victorio, Juh, Mangas Coloradas, Nicolas and Nana roamed them and enough Comanches were raiding Mexico for this part of deep West Texas to be on Great Comanche Trail.

To put it in modern terms, conditions were unfavorable for economic development. Built on 500 acres in a box canyon near Limpia Creek, soldiers were needed to protect stagecoaches, wagon trains, railroad surveyors and eventually settlers.
Read the full article from
Photograph of Mitre Peak near Ft. Davis from Texas Old Photos

A Birds Eye View of Texas

Take a look at Texarkana in 1888, Dallas in 1892, Cuero in 1881 or any of the other sixty birds eye views of Texas cities on line at The Amon Carter Museum website, Texas Bird's-Eye Views.

View the website

Texas Bird’s-Eye Views is a Web site dedicated to the study and appreciation of the Texas city views in the museum’s collection, along with a number of additional Texas views from private lenders and outside institutions. From the website:

Bird’s-eye views, many of which are more than three feet wide, appear as something between a panoramic view and a map, as though they were drawn by the artist while he was suspended in a hot-air balloon. In fact, they were drawn by hand using, most often, two-point perspective to produce a three-dimensional rendering. The city views are surprisingly accurate (even to the point of documenting the presence of a tree in the middle of Gonzales Street in Cuero) and represent a much neglected source for understanding the history of Texas.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Foundation representing BNSF Railway Company supplied a grant for the project.

Historic Bridges to be Replaced

Washington County to Replace Two 100-year-old Railroad Bridges

Two railroad overpasses that are more than 100 years old - one at North Berlin Road (Railroad Milepost 128.6) and the other two miles away on Old Gay Hill Road (Railroad Milepost 130.6) - are about to begin “a fast track” to being replaced by modern bridges ...

County Judge Dorothy Morgan and Precinct Three Commissioner Kirk Hanath, in
whose precinct both historic overpasses reside, both appeared ready “to virtually jump with joy” as four resolutions clearing the way for this complex project to proceed all passed by unanimous court votes.

Read full article from the Brenham Banner

Remembering a 40 Year Old Tragedy

A Sad Thing to Remember....

August 1, 1966, the Beatles were on the radio, Ed Sullivan on TV, and at the University of Texas in Austin students were making their way to their Monday morning classes. Charles Whitman, a student at the university, made his way to the 28th floor observation deck of the univerity's bell tower, a perfect vantage point for what was to follow.

In ninety minutes, Whitman wiped out the lives of 17 people, injured another 30 or so by-standers and changed the lives of countless parents, friends and students forever.

40 years ago today. The UT Massacre shocked and appalled people across the country. It was the nation's worst mass shooting at the time.