Friday, March 31, 2023

RonnieAdventure #0562 - Texas 2023 Part VIII, North of Houston

The Woodlands, Texas, was reported to have a collection of outdoor art on display, but when I arrived it was raining and the traffic signals were out. Traffic was a total disaster. After creeping along for about a mile, I photographed "Children at Play" by Clement Renzi and then fought my way back to the Interstate. I really wanted a picture of "Lake Monster" and "Sleeping Giant," but I did not want to spend several hours for two pictures. Instead, I continued on to the Montgomery County Courthouse in Conroe (population 89,956) and the Post Office in the community of Cut and Shoot (population 1,087). Cut and Shoot is located in kind of a rural area and there were not a lot of pickup trucks around the Post Office with "I Love Biden" stickers on the back bumper. 

The storm was worse in Cleveland (population 7,999) and several trees had blown over, so I did not spend any time in town looking for a RonnieAdventure picture. 

Double Lake Recreation Area just south of Coldspring (population 777) is Trailhead #11 on the lengthy Lone Star Hiking Trail. Coldspring is also the county seat for San Jacinto County. How often do you see a cross on the front of the courthouse?

Because elevation changes are so slight in the area, the earthen dam that backs up Livingston Reservoir is only a 99-foot-high, but 2.5 miles in length. The lake has a catchment area of 16,616 square miles and is 31 miles long. Average depth of the lake is 55-feet.  

The original Swartwout townsite is now under Livingston Reservoir, but the town's historic marker has been relocated to the historic Pleasant Hill Methodist Church site below the dam.

Not a lot of "tourist traps" in this part of Texas, so I stopped by the Polk County Courthouse in Livingston (population 5,829), the Trinity County Courthouse in Groveton (population 913), and the Houston County Courthouse in Crockett (population 6,332).

Crockett was named for Davy Crockett and is the fifth-oldest city in Texas. Davy and his men camped here by the natural spring on their way to the Alamo. Also, located by the spring is the Strode-Pritchett Log Cabin that is believed to have been built in the 1850s. After the log cabin was abandoned, it was used for hay storage until 1973.

Madisonville (population 4,565)  is known as the "Mushroom Capital of Texas" because there are ten large Monterey Mushrooms farm in the area. The farms produces 400,000 pounds of white mushrooms and 92,000 pounds of brown mushrooms every week.

Madisonville is also the county seat for Madison County and home of the historic Woodbine Hotel. On the web, the hotel is also known as Shapira Hotel and Willis Hotel. The 1904 Queen Anne structure is a popular dining place for locals and visitors. Large painted mushrooms are found at various locations around town. 

Both the Grimes County Courthouse and the Fanthorp Inn State Historic Site are located in the small community of Anderson (population 195). 

Henry Fanthorp built the original inn structures in 1834 as a home for his third wife. In 1835 Fanthorp was appointed postmaster for the area, so the building was enlarged and became the first US Post Office in the region. Within a few years the inn became a favorite place for stagecoach stops, so in 1850 the building was once again enlarged to accommodate hotel guest. A general store was also added to serve stagecoach passengers and local residents. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department purchased the historic structure in 1977 from the Fanthorp family and in 2019 the property was transferred to the Texas Historical Commission. The Fanthorp Inn is now open for public tours

By the time I arrived in Navasota (population 8,068) it was raining hard and really getting dark. On the way into town there was an accident on Highway 6, so by following a service road I was able to get a picture of the "World's Largest Teapot." Fortunately, my GPS unit knew the backroads and got me to the Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle monument by avoiding the long traffic jam.

Sieur de La Salle is best known for his 1682 expedition in which he claimed the lower Mississippi River from the mouth of the Illinois River to the Gulf of Mexico for France. 

In 1684 La Salle once again left France for America, this time to establish a French colony on the Gulf of Mexico. After many hardships, the group finally settled near Victoria, Texas. Then, their one remaining ship ran aground and sunk in the mud in what was then known as the Bay of Saint Louis, stranding the settlers. In order to get help, La Salle led a group of settlers eastward looking for the Mississippi River, but he got lost and they wandered around in the Mississippi Delta marshes for two years. On March 19, 1687, some of the men mutinied near the present site of Navasota, Texas, and Pierre Duhaul shot and killed La Salle. James Hiems then shot Duhaul to avenge La Salle, and soon mayhem broke out and everyone was shooting everyone else to avenge others who had been shot. The survivors finally regrouped, but the Karankawa Natives then killed the remaining 20 adults and took the children as captives. In 1689 France sent a search party to look for the settlers, but they could never find anyone. 

Navasota's Blues Alley has been recognized as the best public improvement in Texas for cities of less than 50,000 people. I was not there during the day, but it was reported that along Washington Avenue there are a great selection of coffee shops and boutiques in the heart of the downtown district. I did get a picture of a nice mural in the alley. 

In front of Navasota's City Hall stands a statue of Frank Hamer, the Texas Ranger that tracked down Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow and put an end to their robbing and killing spree. 

I took a picture of the Waller County Courthouse in Hempstead (population 6,028) as I drove through town and then continued on to Katy (population 24,005) to visit a Buc-ee's station that contain a really long string of gas pumps and the "World's Longest Car Wash." 

Friday, March 24, 2023

RonnieAdventure #0561 - Texas 2023 Part VII, Corpus Christi to Houston

Aunt De's Pralines in Sinton (population 5,665), Texas, is known around the world for their chocolate coated creamy pralines. In 1987 Eleanor Harren started making her Aunt Aggie De's creamy pralines in her kitchen and the company now sells over 2 million pralines each year. Stop in for a sample!

The San Patracio County Courthouse is located diagonally across the street from Aunt De's. This is the 8th San Patracio County Courthouse and was constructed in 1927. The first "Log Courthouse" was constructed in the early 1830s, even though San Patricio County was not created until 1837. There is a nice war memorial located in front of the building. 

It was really raining by the time I arrived at the Refugio County Courthouse in Refugio (population 2,890). The courthouse was built in 1917, but has been remodeled and expanded several times. 

Across the street from the courthouse is the King and His Mem Memorial, to remember Captain Amon B. King and his group of young men that made the ultimate sacrifice to help Texans win their freedom. The sculpture features "A Young Man, on one knee weary from battle; in a struggle swinging a Broken Sword, losing his fight but battling to the end; holding tightly to a Laurel Leaf, the idea of FREEDOM."

Helena (now a "ghost town") was an important stage stop between San Antonio and Goliad and was selected as the first county seat. However, the citizens of Helena refused to donate land or raise cash for a rail line, so the railroad bypassed Helena moved the line south to Karnes City where where land was available. The population of Karnes City grew quickly, while the population of Helena declined, so the county seat was moved to Karnes City in 1893. A new courthouse was built in Karnes City in 1894 and has been expanded and remodeled several times. The population of Karnes City is now 3,111.

The Karnes County Museum is still located in Helena, which is now considered to be a "ghost town." Unfortunately, the museum was closed on the day I stopped for a visit. 

Black Diamond, the largest Indian elephant in captivity in the 1920s, went on a rampage in Corsicana, Texas on October 12, 1929, killing several people, including his trainer. The elephant had a history of violence, so the decision was made to "put-down" the animal. One of Black Diamond's legs was reported to be on display in the Karnes County Museum.  

As I was driving through Yorktown (population 1,810), I noticed a nice Veteran's memorial adjacent to the highway. At night the lights say "Freedom Isn't Free."

The three-story courthouse in Cuero (population 1,810) is unique in that the six-story clock tower is twice as tall as the courthouse building. 

There are a number of statues and memorials located around town, including a number of turkeys statues. Cuero claims to be the "Turkey Capital of the World" and is home of the annual "Turkey Trot" that begun in 1912. Worthington, Minnesota, also claims to be the "Turkey Capital of the World," so each year the cities participate in the "Great Gobbler Gallup" to take home the Traveling Turkey Trophy of Tumultuous Triumph for the year. 

Easter Island is not the only place that large Moai statues are found that were carved by unknown people. The 10-foot-high Moai in Victoria (population 65,534) is believed to have been carved by someone named Dincans in 1997, but nothing else is known about the artist or the statue. 

The historic Victoria City Pumping Station that was located not too far from the Moai has been converted into a nice restaurant. Unfortunately, I did not have time to stop for lunch.

The Victoria County Courthouse is a a beautiful historic building that was constructed in 1892 in Romanesque architecture style. The building is made of Texas granite and Indiana limestone. 

A plaque in front of the Jackson Count Courthouse in Edna (population 5,499) stated that the average elevation in Edna was 75-feet, which accounts for why one can see for a long distance on a clear day. (This claim could not be verified because as noted in the picture, it was not a clear day!) For Texas, the courthouse is a very plain building. 

I always like to stop at dinosaur exhibits, so when I saw a sign for Dinosaur Park in Wharton (population 8,627) I had to stop. All I can say is that their brontosaurus did not look too healthy. They had better start feeding him better or he may become extinct.

A historic marker in front of the Wharton County Courthouse explained that the building was constructed in 1889 using salmon-colored brick made from Colorado River clay deposits. Inside of the building there was a display of replica craft items that came to Texas from Spain. 

Teepee motels were popular in western United States after WW II when people started traveling more and wanted to have an "old west experience." However, the "experience" was short lived and travelers soon wanted modern conveniences -- air conditioning and black-and-white televisions. Some of the teepee motels like Teepee Motel & RV Park in Wharton are now seeing a revival as travelers want to have a "1940s experience." I think I will just stick with Marriott.

Eagle Lake (population 3,442) borders a wildlife preserve and has a number of rice fields in the area. A large variety of migratory birds are attracted to the area, so the city claims that it is the "Goose Hunting Capital of the World." There may be some other places in the United States that would challenge that claim. 

Located on the Colorado County Courthouse lawn in Columbus (population 3,699) is a museum that is located in the old 1883 city water tower. The museum was originally founded by the United Daughters of the Confederacy, but it is now a museum for all wars.  Located a short distance away is the Mary Elizabeth Hopkins Santa Clause Museum and the Dilue Rose Harris house. Harris is known for her writings about the Texas Revolution. 

Bellville's (population 4,206) motto is: "A quaint little Texas town with a big Texas hart!" I do not know about the heart size, but there is a really large bust of Stephen Austin in Bellville. Austin is  known as the "Father of Texas," so there are statues of him throughout all of Texas. 

Also located in Bellville are the historic County Jail, which is now a museum, and the Trump Burger Restaurant where the hamburger buns are branded with Trump's name. The largest burger is called the "Trump Tower."

When I told my GPS unit to take me to the historic Fort Bend County Courthouse in Richmond (population 11,627), it took me to the Fort Bend County Justice Center. I tried several different word combinations, but it kept taking me to the Justice Center. Finally, I just drove down the main highway through town, and there was the historic courthouse.