CAMELS ON THE COAST


The Texas coast town of Indianola  was once a major port and the county seat of Lavaca County.  Incorporated in 1853, it was a port of entry for many German immigrants and at its height had a population of 5,000.  In 1875 a hurricane destroyed the town and killed several hundred people; those remaining rebuilt.   Just over ten years later in 1886 another destructive storm struck the recovering town.  This time the residents did not rebuild but scattered as the county seat was moved to nearby Port Lavaca.

Today if you visit the area you will not find much of this ghost town left other than a stone marker for the courthouse and a Texas Historical Marker for the town of Indianola.  And there is a rather strange rustic metal sculpture of a man leading a camel.

This photo came from the Calhoun County Historical Commission website.

A few feet in front is a state marker with this title and explanation:
THE GREAT CAMEL EXPERIMENT

No immigrants arriving in Indianola were quite as exotic as the seventy-five camels that came ashore in 1856 and 1857 from Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt and Turkey. As early as 1836, politicians, diplomats and the military were considering the importation of camels for use in North America’s desert wastelands. In 1853, secretary of war Jefferson Davis, a man familiar with harsh desert conditions, proposed to congress the use of camels as pack animals in the desert southwest. Congress approved the request on March 3, 1855. After a three-month voyage from the Mediterranean, the Fashion entered Matagorda Bay on May 13, 1856 and landed the camels at the wharf at powder horn. Thirty-four camels, ranging from Bactrians (two-humped variety), Arabians (one-hump variety) and a hybrid-cross between the two, came ashore. Many residents of Indianola recalled the unusual sight of the camels being led through the streets. By February 1857, a second government shipment of forty-one camels arrived in Indianola. Military camel caravans carrying supplies became more common in the Texas Hill Country between the camels’ home of Camp Verde and San Antonio. The camels, along with traditional livestock, were used in the summer of 1857 to survey the great wagon road between Arizona and California, now known as Route 66. The camels were also used in 1859 and 1860 for reconnaissance in west Texas, surveying routes to the U.S./Mexico border. In 1861, upon the outbreak of the Civil War, all U.S. military assets, including the camels, came into possession of confederate troops and, after the war, the camels were auctioned off. (2013) Marker is Property of the State of Texas”

There is not much left of the old Camp Verde  facility, located between the towns of Kerrville and Bandara in the Texas Hill Country, except for a stone marker.  About a mile away is the site of a store on Verde Creek established in 1857, mainly to supply the fort.

The original store was was washed away by the creek.  Today it is the site of Camp Verde General Store and Restaurant, a rustic Hill Country attraction.  Outside is a rather abstract metal camel sculpture as a nod to its past.   Husband and I would like to visit both sites in the fall.

Photo taken from Camp Verde General Store and Restaurant website


 

TEXAS NAVY 1836-1846


Texas was a republic for almost ten years before it joined the United States in 1845 as the 28nd state and a slave state.  As a new republic fighting Santa Anna as he advanced into Texas, a  Texas Navy was established to protect the coastline by keeping the lines of supply from New Orleans open and keep Mexican ships from delivering supplies to Santa Anna.  Those first four schooners, Invincible, Brutus, Liberty and Independence played an important part in the victory at San Jacinto but the navy’s role is not as well known as most of the glory went to the victories on land.

In March of this year a permanent exhibit honoring the Texas Navy opened on the USS Lexington Museum, a WW II aircraft carrier berthed at Corpus Christi. The ship serves as a naval aviation museum,  education facility and tourist attraction.   Recently I visited  after having lunch with Daughter who works on the Lexington.   The ship has five self-guided tours and offers guided tours for behind the scenes.  The Texas Navy exhibit is on the ” Lower Decks Tour”, tour number four.

NEON ENTRANCE TO EXHIBIT

Visitors are immediately drawn into the 1800s and a different kind of warfare and away from the WWII period.

WORKING SAILORS

These sailors seem to be welcoming you aboard; even the worn wooden flooring feels like the deck of a ship and much different from the metal and steel floors of a WWII ship.

Photos of these two story boards did not come out very well – Husband could have done better had he been along – but they do give information on the importance of the Texas Navy early on and later as it continued to protect the new republic.

BATTLE OF CAMPECHE 1843

NAVAL OFFICER

I don’t know what the white object is on the left.  Perhaps it was one of the rumored ghosts on the Lexington.  It was a weekday afternoon and not very crowded, so I often found myself alone to leisurely view the Texas exhibit and  WWII photos and documents also as I competed the Lower Decks Tour.  OK, it was probably  my finger that got in the way!

SHIP’S WHEEL

Take a turn at the ship’s wheel!

CANNONS AIMED AT MEXICAN SHIPS

Visitors can get the feel of being on a ship in the heat of battle with this replica of a warship; note the Mexican flag on the ship being fired upon.

NAVAL GEAR AND ARTIFACTS

There were several displays like this one.

TEXAS NAVY FLAG

This is the Texas Naval flag.  Texas Flag Park describes it this way:

Created by Charles Hawkins for the Texas Navy in April, 1836 the Lone Star and Stripes Flag was adopted and continued unchanged for the life of the Republic. It carried a single white star in the blue canton, and seven red stripes and six white stripes alternating in color. The stripes represented the original thirteen colonies of the U.S. The flag was deliberately designed to resemble the national flag of the U.S. When the flag hung limp, it could be mistaken for the American flag which gave the underdog Texan fleet the advantage of surprise, and it worked.

There is a small theater inside the exhibit, though I did not take a photo, with an excellent documentary,  How the Texas Navy Saved the Revolution, a Kahunas USA / Texas Navy Association historic documentary.  The film is available to all Texas teachers for free download at texasnavy.org under the “Teachers” button.

When Texas joined the Union the proud Texas Navy was absorbed into the United States Navy.  “Texas Navy 1836-1846” is an excellent addition to the WWII exhibits on the Lexington for anyone who is interested in Texas history.

 

 

 

FRIDAY FOTO: Monterrey, Mexico, June 1991


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In June of 1991 Husband and I took a train from Nuevo Laredo, Mexico to Monterrey, Mexico.  The cars were not air-conditioned except for the club car where it was cool and the cervazas were cold.

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Husband reluctantly  posing for me between cars.

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View of Saddleback Mountain from the roof of our hotel.

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Neptune Fountain at the Gran Plaza or Macroplaza

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Faro del Comercio (Lighthouse of Commerce), a column 230 feet high and 40 feet wide erected to commemorate 100 years of the founding of the Monterrey Chamber of Commerce.   At night it was lit by laser.

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Note the admonition on the building to “Vote like this – PRI – on July 7.”  The  Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) continued to hold political power in Mexico for seventy years until 2000 when Vicente Fox with PAN (National Action Party ) was elected President of Mexico.  Today the PRI has gained back some power with the election of President Enrique Pena Nieto.1991 06 Monterrey Mexico 016

The Bishop’s Palace sits on a  hill in heart of the city.    Built in 1787-90 it was involved in the Mexican-American War as U.S. forces under General Zachary Taylor stormed up the steep hill  and overwhelmed the Mexican garrison at the top on September 22, 1846.  Now it is a museum – The Regional History Museum.  One can drive or walk up to it.  We walked and the view of the city was worth it.

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Courtyard inside the Bishop’s Palace

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The white in the distance is a cemetery.  Beyond that is the industrial part of Monterrey.

Death’s Garden: Crossed Fingers


Loren Rhoads just published on her blog a piece that I wrote, “Crossed Fingers,” about a cemetery in Texas. She has an outstanding blog and is an impressive author. Check out her blog & my piece here and also check out her other writings at lorenrhoads.com

Cemetery Travel: Your Take-along Guide to Graves & Graveyards Around the World

All photos of Pleasant Hill by Jo Nell Huff. All photos of Pleasant Hill by Jo Nell Huff.

by Jo Nell Huff

“Cemetery! Cross your fingers!”

The admonition floats to the surface of my consciousness like the command of an angel as I see the cemetery ahead on the left. The child within me obediently crosses the middle finger over the index finger of both hands. I continue to drive my car along the freeway at 70 miles per hour.

When I traveled with my family as a child, the females in the car crossed their fingers while passing a cemetery. Father did not participate. Either an older sister or my mother would warn of an approaching cemetery and we would all cross our fingers. I confess that I still do it after these years, even though I know it is foolish. While driving alone, I can boldly cross them without fear of derision. When traveling with fellow passengers…

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Still celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Texas but maybe next year in London!


Crone and Son 1995

Crone and Son in London, May 5, 1995

Twenty years ago Husband, Son and I spent Cinco de May in London

and celebrated at the Texas Embassy Cantina with margaritas and mariachis.

Since then every Cinco de Mayo I say, “Next year in London!”

Alas, another year has passed without returning to London.

In 2012 I wrote a post about celebrating Cinco de May in London.

Here is the link for those who missed it and may be interested. https://coastalcrone.com/2012/04/15/next-year-in-london/

Unfortunately, as far as I know the Texas Embassy Cantina  is closed, but I would settle for another trip to London.

TEXAS REMEMBERS VIETNAM


The Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument was approved by the Texas legislature in 2005 to honor Texans who served in the Armed Forces during the Vietnam War.  The 14-foot tall monument will be dedicated on the Capitol grounds in Austin on March 29, 2014.

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Replica of the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument

Currently a scale replica can be seen on the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay as part of the Texas Vietnam Heroes visiting exhibit.  The display also consists of 3,417 hand-embossed personalized dog tags representing the Texans who died while serving the U.S. Armed Forces during the Vietnam War.

The interactive exhibition pays tribute to and educates the public about the sacrifices of Texans in Vietnam.  Each hero is remembered by name, rank, branch of service, home of record and date of his loss.  Black tags represent the Texans who are still Missing in Action. .

A set of identical dog tags will be entombed in the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument as part of the monument to honor all Texans who served in Vietnam.

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The Texas Vietnam Heroes Exhibit can be seen until March 24, 2014 on the USS Lexington Museum. Nicknamed “The Blue Ghost,” it is open daily and located on North Beach in Corpus Christi, Texas.  For more information go to www.usslexington.com.

The USS Lexington is a floating museum.

The USS Lexington is a floating museum.

For more information on the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument go to www.buildthemonument.org.

Here is a video from that website featuring Joe Galloway, author of “We Were Soldiers Once…and Young.”

A LIGHTHOUSE AND A WEDDING


Point Cabrillo Light Station

Point Cabrillo Light Station

Perhaps because I live on the coast I enjoy visiting lighthouses.  On a trip to northern California last fall we visited Point Cabrillo Light Station near Fort Bragg.   Today it  is a state park.  The grounds contain a restored lighthouse keeper’s home and several guest houses set back a bit from the lighthouse itself.  Nature trails allow visitors to experience the natural beauty of the rugged Pacific coastline in safety.

The website describes its history this way:

“Although Point Cabrillo was surveyed by the U. S. Lighthouse Service in 1873, construction of the Light Station didn’t begin until after the 1906 earthquake. The demand for lumber to rebuild San Francisco meant that maritime commerce on the north coast was at an all time high and a Lighthouse was critical to the safety of the ships and their valuable cargo. Construction of the Light Station began in 1908, and the lens was illuminated for the first time on June 10,1909, under head keeper Wilhelm Baumgartner.”

Our visit was at late afternoon.  Near the lighthouse keeper’s home a large white tent was set up in preparation for a wedding.  The tent had a wooden floor and tables laden with white flowers.  In front a bar had been set up so that guests could take a drink with them as they strolled down to where the ceremony was to be held near the edge of the bluff . White chairs were lined up for the guests.  A cello and violin duo would provide the music.  The setting sun would make a dramatic background for the nuptials.  This was a wedding California-style.

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Full view

As we were walking away from our tour of the lighthouse, a couple from the wedding party approached us.  The man asked Husband if he would take a photo of them.  As Husband took the camera the couple moved closer together and tilted their wine glasses in classic style.  The late sun and old lighthouse made a unique backdrop for this striking couple. He was tall, trim and dark in his black pin-striped double-vested suit and cowboy boots.  Her long blonde hair fell just right as did her short draped skirt that was accented casually with a wide silver belt; cowboy boots completed the polished western look.  Think J. R. and Sue Ellen Ewing.  They might be from Texas, I thought.

Husband returned the camera and the man expressed his thanks.  In my best Texas tourist accent I said, “Where are you all from?”

“New York,” he replied with a smile as they walked away with the California sun highlighting their wine.

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Coastline behind the Point Cabrillo Light Station