Category Archives: Texas

who, what, when and where of the Lone Star State (and mostly how it relates to photography)

December Break – Day 2

The second day out was just as much fun as the first day and I retraced my steps, but this time with my wife.  Wanted to share some of the places I had been, and wanted to show her some places I had been on previous trips.

We started the day visiting the power plant in Seguin (see day 1), and then headed East to Palmetto State Park.  The park is between Luling and Gonzales and was built with aid from the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps), it takes it’s name from the dwarf palmetto palms that grow there.

Detail of a Palmetto Palm
View of the dense forest, there are several trails that you can take to see the flora and fauna of the area.

There is a nice group pavillion (built by the CCC) that can be rented by the day for larger groups, that has a nice view of the San Marcos River.

Group Pavillion

back of Group Pavillion and patio

Patio overlooking San Marcos River

There are several hiking trails, that appear to be maintained very well. There are also boat rentals for anyone that would like to explore the area in a canoe or even a paddle boat. Ther park also has a large number of birds in the park, some will even pose for you.
White Crown Night Heron

Will continue Day 2 later, with one of the Texas Painted Churches.

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December Break

Took some time off work and the wife and I spent a few days with family.  It was a great break, and though there was not room in the car for the ‘BIG’ camera (7×11 view camera) did take the DSLR and got to explore some new places.

First stop was in Seguin, TX that started with an older movie theater (have a co-worker that loves these), as you can see the weather was great.  Cool, but not cold and clear sky’s.

Palace Theater, Seguin TX

On to the Guadalupe River via one of the City Parks.  Light was not that good at the time, so headed off to Gonzales and the Texas Independence Trail.  Found some great ghost signs on some of the buildings and some really nice period architecture.  The town of Gonzalez was settled in 1825, and was where the first shots of the Texas Revolution were fired.  There is a nice little museum, the Gonzales Memorial in town that has many photographs (tin types, ambrotypes and daguerreotype) as well as artifacts from local citizen from that time (1836).

Gonzales Memorial
Memorial to citizens of Gonzales that died at the Alamo
Memorial to the Old Eighteen

 

It was time to head back, so I stopped back in Seguin to check the light at the city power plant on the Guadalupe River, and found the light much better (after all photography is all about the quality of the light).

 

Old Seguin Power Plant on the Guadalupe River
 

That was the end of the first day, day 2 to follow.

 

 

 

 

A Visit with the Past..

It was early summer 1973, and I was stationed at Fort Polk, LA when I was given a temporary assignment to Fort Wolters, TX.  I figured they knew I was from Fort Worth so they got me close to home.

Anyhow, the photo is of the US Army Hospital at Fort Wolters, TX.  I stopped by this week, while out doing some old school  photography, yes big camera and big sheets of film.  It was kind of strange to drive around the post and see how things had and had not changed.  Some of the areas are being put to good use, other areas – well other areas made be quite sad.

The old hospital was  one that made me sad, it sets empty almost 40 years later, yet it was quite a modern facility in the day.

US Army Hospital, Fort Wolters TX

View of three building

The following 3 photographs are a story of the fate of many building in so many small towns.  One is getting a fresh coat of paint and appears to be almost ready to be put in use, one is already restored and is serving the public once again as a bank, the other sits abandoned and waits for time to decide its fate.  While it is not unusual to see these old buildings crumble or have to be torn down, it always makes me a little sad.  These were places of commerce, they were offices or stores and people lived parts of their lifes in them – there are stories that may never be told, but if the walls could talk. 

Many of the small towns cannot afford to keep these buildings, they offer nothing to the town.  Some, though, find new owners that see the possibilities and they are saved and become part of the town once again.  I hope more business will find these old buildings and place them back in service, many are certainly a joy to look at.

 
 
1st Nartional Bank,
Forgotten Building

More Texas Small Towns – B

Bartlett, TX – Visited my Dad yesterday, and took the opportunity to scout some small towns that were on the list.  Bartlett was one of those towns.  If you drive down TX95 from near Temple you find some really classic small Texas towns.  Holland, Bartlett, Granger, Taylor (not really a small town more of a small city).  

The area around Bartlett, like many small Texas towns, is farming country.  There are fields and fields of corn and other crops around these small towns.  They were once quite prosperous, as you can see in the buildings that were built.  Today some still are, others struggle to keep the building from falling down.  

I will try to capture photos from the surrounding areas to show the farms and how they are still important to the local economy, as well as the economy of the county and state.  These towns are remind me of the town by grand parents lived in and remind me how important the people who live there are.  Good people, many who work hard from sunrise to sunset just as my grand parents did. 

Still have not taken the 7×11 camera out yet, but have enjoyed the freedom the Lumix LX3 has given me.  Here are some views from Bartlett, TX. 

Bartlett, TX

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Bartlett, TX view the other direction

 

Time for New Project

View of downtown Abbott
Abbott, TX

Time for a new project.  Sometimes a project starts itself, and only after it has started do I realize it IS a project.  Other times, a seed starts to grow and a project begins.  This one is a bit of both I hope and for the first time it will contain both traditional photography and my first attempt at some serious digital photography.  It should be interesting to say the least – with process from the 19th Century and the 21 Century.

The concept of the project is small town Texas, those remarkable towns that have endured the growth and loss of population as well as the rise and fall of the economy.  These places are farming communities, there are no shopping centers, many are not large enough to have a chain grocery store.  The residents may have to drive miles just for the necessities yet they continue to live in the small towns.  Their populations range from 100-300 to over 5,000 residents.  These places will be the focus of the project – ‘Small Texas Towns from A to Z’.  I hope you can drop by from time to time and see where I have been.

Here is the first – Abbott, TX  Some guy named Willie Nelson used to sing at the old Methodist church here as a young man.

Texas Church Project

Perry Methodist Church
Perry Methodist Church

The ringing of the church bell still echos as the children run out to play.  As the women of the church setup for the meal, the men start to unload the food from the wagons and setup the makeshift tables. 

As the afternoon sun heats up, the women visit and tend to the smaller children, the men stand under the shade trees to discuss the the crops and the clouds on the horizon.  The clouds may bring rain, or they may be the clouds of war in Europe…home for many who stand under the shade.  The service that they just heard was most likely in German, Czech, Polish or any number of languages from parts of Europe.

The reason for the celebration might be the 10th, 20th or even 50th anniversary of the church.

Fast forward to 2008 and that same church building still stands, it now is 100, 120, 150 years old.  Members from those same families may still attend, and the city may have grown much closer than it was from that first day.  If fire or storms or ‘progress’ have been kind to it, the same building is still standing.

This is one of the reason for the Texas Church Project.  When a community first started, a school, courthouse or church were the first buildings to appear after homes were built.  Many of these grand old buildings have been lost, but those few that remain are sought after by the photographers of the TCP, to record how they appear today, so that others will know in another hundred years what they looked like.

The Texas Church Project is not a religious project, as much as it is the story of Texas.  It is the migration of peoples from far off lands, coming for a new start in a new place.  It is the story of a people who built the building, while they built a new life in a new land.  It is also, perhaps most importantly what the photographer felt when we visit each location.  The emotion of rubbing your hand across a pew that has been touched by so many from such a long time ago.  To listen to the stories the building has to tell – The Forgotten Prayers, Weddings and Funerals, the joys and sorrows that were shared.

For more information, please visit the website of the Texas Church Project.