Photo taken near Monument Valley, Utah

Friday, November 6, 2015

In Austin - A Texas History Refresher

At La Hacienda RV Resort, Austin, Texas...

Sometimes the fascinating history of my state is relegated too far back in the recesses of my mind, so our visit on this day to the Bob Bullock Museum of Texas History was a nice refresher. Near the capitol, the impressive three-story edifice, complete with the outsized Texas star in front, is full of dioramas, displays and theaters--one of which is an IMax--where the story of Texas is depicted, chronologically, in a walking tour. All this for only12 bucks a head, in addition to an $8 parking fee. 

The exhibits would be ideal for newcomers to the state who may not be aware of the struggle and sacrifice of early settlers to wrest the vast land away from Mexico and establish it as its own country before choosing to be a part of the United States. Certainly no other state can claim such an epic story of daring, bravery and heroism or the veneration of the storied leaders like Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin, William Travis, Jim Bowie and the like, for whom so many Texas cities and landmarks are named today.

Here are some examples of what the museum has to offer:

Three floors of exhibits tell the story of Texas from the 1600s to the present. The relic at the bottom is a reconstruction of La Belle, LaSalle's flagship that sank in a storm off the Texas coast in 1685.  
Copy of a famous painting depicting the surrender of Mexican General Santa Anna to Sam Houston at San Jacinto, winning Texas' independence.
The story of the riches brought to the state by oil discoveries.
Perhaps the only disappointment was the too-heavy emphasis on slavery in Texas. While this was a regrettable practice worthy of illumination and disdain, slaveholdings in 1860 Texas were minuscule--182,000 at its zenith--compared to the rest of the South, where there were four million slaves. Yet those who assembled these presentations gave perhaps more floor space to this era--which spanned only about 20 years--than to energy, agriculture or aviation. But self-flagellation is all the rage nowadays in academia. If only they could point out some of the good that our country is!

No visit to downtown Austin would be complete without taking another look at the capitol building:

It is the largest, the tallest and the grandest of all the state capitols (as it should be). It was built in the 1880s of Texas pink granite, the project completed, if memory serves, by a Chicago consortium and paid for with 3 million acres of land the state could spare out of its vast supply of real estate.

Some interesting facts about Texas:

It is larger than any country in Europe and has an economy greater than that of Spain.

There are 250,000 Texans active in a movement to secede from the Union (not a bad idea). But in response, some citizens of Austin--arguably the San Francisco of Texas--have petitioned to secede from Texas. I say we let them go.

El Paso is closer to California than it is to Dallas.

It is farther from Beaumont to El Paso than from Beaumont to Springfield, Illinois.

Fritos were invented in San Antonio; Dr. Pepper in Waco.

At 825,000 acres, the King Ranch is bigger than Rhode Island. Its borders have 2,000 miles of fencing.

Loving County has fewer residents--82--than any other county in the nation.

It is a state of temperature extremes: On March 27, 1984, the temperature in Amarillo was 35 degrees while the temperature in Brownsville was 106. 

Texas has the highest speed limit in the nation: 85 MPH on some toll roads. (Not very fuel efficient, but ask us if we care; this is Texas.)

So, if you're new to the state, this museum is not a bad place to learn our history. It is certainly a fascinating one.

Thank you, Lord, for this wonderful life; please forgive me if I don't appreciate it enough each day.

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