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Archive for texas

Steel and Stone in Galveston

By Linda Tancs

Bishop’s Palace (also known as Gresham House) is a National Historic Landmark in the East End Historic District of Galveston, Texas. Acknowledged by architectural historians as one of the most significant Victorian residences in the country, its hint of French Revival combined with depressed Tudor arches, articulated carvings and sculptural chimneys renders it one of the “Broadway beauties” (owing to its location on Broadway). Constructed in 1892 of steel and stone for railroad magnate Walter Gresham, it survived the Great Storm of 1900 virtually unscathed. The “basement to attic” tour offers visitors access to the rarely seen third floor, including Mrs. Gresham’s studio and its panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico.

A Step Into the Past in Texas

By Linda Tancs

Padre Island National Seashore in Texas is the longest stretch of undeveloped barrier island in the world, a time capsule of sorts with dunes and other natural formations that look the same today as they would have to the Native Americans and European settlers who inhabited the area hundreds of years ago. Owned at different times by Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas and later the United States, it comprises mostly prairie/grasslands with ephemeral marshes and ponds bordered on the east by the Gulf of Mexico and on the west by the Laguna Madre, one of only six lagoons in the world that is hypersaline (saltier than the ocean). The park protects 70 miles of coastline, dunes, prairies and wind tidal flats teeming with life, including the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle and 380 bird species.

 

Juneteenth

By Linda Tancs

The liberation of black American slaves in Texas occurred on June 19, 1865, and an annual celebration of the end of slavery is held on the day. Known as Juneteenth, the first celebration in Texas came in 1867, and it became a state holiday in 1980. Like any Texas occasion, food is plentiful. A typical celebration includes barbecue, smothered chicken, collard greens and red desserts and beverages (such as red velvet cake and strawberry soda).

A Fort’s Family Heritage

By Linda Tancs

John Butterfield chose Fort Chadbourne as a major stop for his Overland Mail Company, a stagecoach mail service connecting the east and west coasts of the United States. The fort saw other action as part of the Old West, too, like the Fence Cutting Wars (disputes between farmers and cattlemen staking their claims in the area) and mustering on its grounds at the outbreak of the Civil War. Unlike other military posts, however, this fort has always been privately owned, becoming a ranching haven for eight generations of the Odom’s, Wylie’s and Richards’ families. Located in the vicinity of Bronte, Texas, its military, ranching, and Indian historical roots have been lovingly restored. The old frontier fort now has six restored buildings, stabilized ruins, and a new visitor center featuring over 300 antique guns, thousands of military and Native American artifacts, cannons and a research library.

Best Known Street in Texas

By Linda Tancs

The heart of Austin, Texas, 6th Street is an entertainment mecca. On the one hand, you’ll find historic buildings hosting bars, restaurants and an eclectic set of entertainment venues boasting everything from country to punk. On the other hand, quieter pursuits await thanks to art galleries and antique shops. No wonder the variety attracts showcase events like the Austin Mardi Gras celebration, SXSW, The Republic of Texas Bikers Rally, the Pecan Street Festival (the street’s former name) and the infamous Halloween celebration. Get ready to party.

Dance Hall Days

By Linda Tancs

If the dance floor boards at Gruene Hall could talk, then imagine the stories they’d tell. Built in 1878, Gruene Hall is Texas’ oldest continually operating dance hall, boasting an original layout of 6,000 square feet and a tin roof. In the early days, it hosted dance parties as well as badger fights. These days, you’re just as likely to find working songwriters trying out new material there or maybe you’ll enjoy a performance by Willie Nelson, Aaron Neville or another well-known artist. In fact, this year marks the venue’s 40th anniversary of the best live music in Texas.

Where Nature Speaks

By Linda Tancs

The Chihuahuan Desert region covers over 220,000 square miles, the third largest desert of the Western Hemisphere.  It includes parts of the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas in the United States, as well as parts of the states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Durango, Zacatecas, and San Luis Potosi in Mexico.  Here you’ll find more cacti than any other region in the world, including the prickly pears, hedgehogs, living rocks, nipple cacti, and cory cacti.  So how do you go about exploring such a vast expanse?  Why not start at the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Center in Fort Davis, Texas.  Beginning hikers will love the Hummingbird and Butterfly Trail, a short, easy trail with spectacular views of Mitre Peak.  The more difficult Outside Loop Trail will take you up to Clayton’s Overlook, the highest point on the property.  Plant and bird lovers should flock to Modesta Canyon Trail.  If hiking is too strenuous, be sure to visit the botanical gardens, where they say it’s quiet enough to hear nature speak.

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