Cross Timbers Trails
your guide to the eight counties of the cross timbers area
VOLUME 3, ISSUE 1 • SPRING/SUMMER 2014
BEHIND BARS Eastland’s law enforcement museum offers stories from the past
FROM ASHES TO WORLD RECORD
Discover the history behind the World’s Largest Cedar Rocking Chair
Fossil Rim celebrates 30 years of conservation
‘LIFE IS BETTER OUTSIDE’ Explore Mineral Wells State Park’s interpretive programs
MORE THAN JUST THE ‘BANG BANG’ Photojournalist Donald Jones features his work of soldiers on tour at a new show in
Signature public radio for the Cross Timbers region.
Your home for NPR News, Classical, Jazz and Quality Local Programming Weekdays s 8-10 pm
Weekdays s 2-4 pm
Mon-Fri, 6-9 am
Plus, lots of great weekend programming!
with your hosts... MON - Cary Richards TUES - Hank Jones WED - Moumin Quazi THURS - Mike Pierce FRI - Janice Horak & Stephen Wilson
with Cary Richards
At the Crossroads
Free Range Folk
Blues with Kurt Johnson with Jim Blum
Rock Spectacle American Routes
with Nick Spitzer
We are a service of Tarleton State University in partnership with Texas A&M’s KAMU-FM.
K T R L 90.5 FM Tarleton Public Radio
Across the Airwaves and Reaching...
Stephenville • Granbury • Glen Rose Meridian • Dublin • Hamilton • Hico Comanche • Cleburne • De Leon
Entire broadcast schedule at www.tarleton.edu/ktrl
Table of Contents Cross Timbers Trails
Volume 3, Issue 1 - Spring/Summer 2014
History 5 The Legend Lives On 6 Comanche County Relives Deadly Chain Reaction 7 Justice Is Served 8 Washing Down The Past With New Flavors 10 Rocking Back from the Ashes 12 Norwegian History Comes Alive
Art 15 Boot Scootin’ for 20 Years 16 Jones Focuses His Lens on War and History 19 Artist Finds Spiritual Connection in Creative Journey 20 Never Judge a Bookstore By Its Cover
Nature 23 24 26 28 30 31 32 34 35
Adventures Along the Brazos River Zebras and Rhinos and Cheetahs, Oh My! Ghost Towns Echo Stories of the Past The Wonderful World of Whitney Healing Through Horses Lone Star Arena Gallops Ahead ‘Life Is Better Outside’ Star-struck in Clifton Check it Out
Cover photo of Donald Jones Courtesy photo by Bill Putnam
Letter from the editor Volume 3, Issue 1 - Spring/Summer 2014
Cross Timbers Trails Editor Madison Campbell Art Director Sara Gann Advertising Manager Harley Brown Staff Writers Justin Brundin Jack Cochran Yaritza Corrales Keli Jo Cummings Kendra Geer Katie Gibbs Jenna Hagan Ashley Husbands Clifford Jones Bethany Kyle Bre Lillie Autumn Owens Jessica Parton Keauno Perez Lyndsey Reed Madison Stout Kaitlyn Tonkin Savannah Trantham Photojournalists Justin Brundin Cameron Cook Yaritza Corrales Nathan Ellison Sherry Gaston Kendra Geer Katie Gibbs Ashley Husbands Bre Lillie Jazz Mangham Autumn Owens Rachel Peoples Madison Stout Kaitlyn Tonkin Advisers Kathryn Jones Malone Dr. Sarah Maben Dan Malone
Hello and welcome to the fifth issue of the Cross Timbers Trails magazine. This publication discovers and reports on the eight counties of the Cross Timbers area, which are Bosque, Comanche, Eastland, Erath, Hamilton, Hood, Palo Pinto and Somervell. In this issue you may notice a few things different as we continue to evolve over time, the biggest change being that the magazine is now divided up into three sections. The content for this issue allowed us to create history, art and nature section. For those of you who may not know, this publication is in conjunction with the Texan News Service at Tarleton State University. This magazine is solely student run, from the brainstorming of articles, researching stories, interviewing professionals, designing layouts and selling advertisements. This is definitely the “real-world” experience that the university offers, and I am so thankful to have been a part of it. It was an honor to be editor of the magazine this issue and I am still trying to get over the shock. This position has given me so many life-changing experiences and lessons that I will never forget. Reading all these articles, I have traveled to the old prison in Eastland, sipped the sweet drinks in Dublin, fed the exotic animals in Glen Rose and seen the “Norwegian-like” hills in Clifton. I hope you enjoy this journey across the Cross Timbers area as much as I enjoyed creating this issue. Madison Campbell Editor, Cross Timbers Trails
Follow CTT: /crosstimberstrails @cttmag
Jay Procter Farms, Inc. PO Box-108 Lingleville, TX 76461 . (254)-977-3553 . firstname.lastname@example.org
Story and Photos by Yaritza Corrales In the town where “everybody is somebody,” there is far more than the eye can see. Hico was the last home of some of the most wanted men during the Old West era. However, nobody then knew hiding behind the name William Henry “Brushy Bill” Roberts was the fugitive known as Billy the Kid. Roberts, who claimed to be the real Billy the Kid, lived his last 17 years in Hico and died of a heart attack a few days before his 91st birthday. The town, which has a population of 1,347, thrives on tourism. In 1987, the Billy the Kid Museum opened in downtown Hico, and in 2005 moved to a new location across the street. The museum hosts a variety of events throughout the year to bring in tourists and educate the public about Billy the Kid. The Billy the Kid Day is dedicated to education and is hosted in the beginning of April. In the past, about 5,000 tourists stopped by the museum, which averages about 500 visitors per month. Another event hosted is the Billy the Kid Open Car Show in April, with this year’s being its fourth annual show. Sue Land, a volunteer worker at the Billy
the Kid Museum, said that last year they had over 100 cars at the car show and expect more entries this year. Other attractions include the Steak Cook-Off in May, antique shows and the National Day of the Cowboy in July. Tourists travel from all over the world to visit Hico’s events, with some coming from as far away as Brazil and Australia. Currently, the volunteers at the museum are working to put together their story of Billy the Kid. According to Land, Billy became famous before his move to Texas when he was living in New Mexico where an argument turned deadly. Being only 14 years old and having lost both parents, Billy fled to Mexico. Witnesses claimed that the incident was self-defense, but his decision to flee made him a fugitive. Several years later, when Billy the Kid moved to Texas, very few people knew that the legendary, wanted man was actually alive and living in Texas due to his false identity. Throughout his life, the one thing that Billy wanted was a pardon for the murder he committed in New Mexico. Billy wanted to amend his ways, but he was “riding rough and ridInside the Billy the Kid Museum is this potrait ing with rough that compares the wanted Billy the Kid men” during a and his ally “Brushy Bill” very violent peRoberts. riod, Land said. To use this to his advantage, the governor of New Mexico at that time agreed that he would pardon Billy only if he would
A stop at the Billy the Kid museum in Hico. “surrender and identify and testify” against other outlaws. He turned himself in to Pat Garrett in search of the promised pardon. Before providing his pardon the governor was called away. Billy was then schedule to be hanged, but once again he decided to run. After Garrett was made marshal, he set out to capture Billy and a shoot out took place, ending with the death of the man that Garrett believed to be Billy the Kid. Land explained that the man Garrett killed in the 1881 shoot out was Billy’s friend and Billy managed to escape. Years later in 1950, the secret that Billy was hiding was discovered. Seeing how this was possibly his last opportunity, Billy acknowledged his true identity and asked William V. Morrison to help him get his pardon. However, things did not go as planned, so Billy returned to Hico. Land said that the remains of Billy the Kid are located on the outskirts of town in Hamilton. His headstone bears the last name he allegedly went by, William Henry Roberts. His claim to be the real Billy the Kid stirred up controversy due to a long-running dispute between Hico’s museum and the Billy the Kid Museum in Fort Sumner, N.M. So the legend of Billy the Kid lives on. The famous outlaw’s story continues to haunt people because of its colorful history and its continuing mystery.
The legend lives on
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 5
Comanche county relives deadly chain reaction Story and Photos by Bre Lillie
Gunslinger, outlaw or folk fateful moments in Comanhero? The man known as che County, moments that John Wesley Hardin has been turned into life-changing called many things. Born in tragedies and have since May 1853 in Bonham, the evolved into the John WesRev. James Gipson and Elizley Hardin Driving Tour. abeth Hardin Gipson, his life At the Comanche County would be filled with trouble Historical Museum, you from an early age. can get directions to trace “John Wesley Hardin was Hardin’s arduous steps Killer John Wesley Hardin, the son of the Rev. James Gipson never an outlaw, he was a through those disastrous and Elizabeth Hardin Gipson, was born in May 1853. killer,” said Fredda Jones, a days that ironically began tour guide and John Wesley on his 21st birthday, May Hardin’s destruction. “Harabout Hardin throughout Hardin historian. It is said 26, 1874. The first shootdin and his brother and one the years, both penned by that Hardin killed roughly 40 ing attack occurred, leaving of his cousins owned three authors in book and lyricists men during his lifetime. But the Brown County Deputy of the fastest horses around,” in song. Mostly these are as destiny would have it, he Sheriff dead. That day started Jones said. Other emopalpable efforts by many to was eventually caught. Stand- a chain reaction of deadly tion-laden stops in town are describe him and the way ing trial in Comanche, he events that took the lives of those where both the Carnes he lived his life. While some was found guilty of murdermany. and the Wright Saloons once seem to have a ring of truth, ing former stood, where the Chinaberry others sound dubious. Texas Ranger Trees once grew, the getaway Although still in early and Brown horses were tied and the development, there is a more County destruction began. ambitious project underway Deputy Westward toward Round about Hardin’s life – the Sheriff Mountain, another stop making of a film. HopefulCharles along the driving tour, brings ly, it will help differentiate Webb. The visitors to the location that truth from fiction. The movie crime cost once sheltered Hardin and will be filmed in Comanche Hardin his young cousins. Finally, County. almost 15 the gut-wrenching stop that To experience the John years in a forever changed people and Wesley Hardin Driving Tour John Wesley Hardin and his cousins were Huntsville families for generations to firsthand, contact the Cosentenced to death for their crimes. This is prison. come is where the hanging manche County Historical the stump of the tree where their bodies hung. However, tree once towered over the Museum at 402 Moorman while there rolling hills of Comanche Road, Comanche, Texas he studied County. It’s an enormous oak 76442 or phone them at law and became an attorney Each historical stop along tree whose trunk now rests at 325-280-9083. after he was set free. the Hardin Driving Tour the museum. Hardin encountered many unfolds the climactic story of Much has been written
6 | History
Justice is served
Story by Justin Brundin and Lyndsey Reed Photos by Justin Brundin
“You see how it was in the past, and how we’ve progressed in law enforcement. It was primitive. Was it more of a deterrent back then without heating and cooling? I don’t know, maybe it was.” ~ Sheriff Wayne Bradford
The sharp thud of a large lock structed of both perforated steel plates improvements was the installation of an opened with a heavy Victorian key is the on the second floor and more modern “intercom” in the ‘70s at the request of first sound a venturous the Texas Commission visitor will experience on Jail Standards. The when visiting the Old commission required Eastland County Jail in that prisoners have a Eastland. way to call the jailer at The surreal world of night out of his trailincarceration in 1897 er. The solution was a is captured only after cable with a cowbell, walking through three which became a popular more heavily armored joke within the Texas steel doors passed the Commission on Jail remains of the small livStandards. ing quarters on the first Overall, the jail floor. Prisoner processoperated for 83 years, ing took place in a small finally closing its doors room that now serves as in 1980. the primary exhibit for The Old Eastland County Jail operated for 83 years, imprisoning This museum is the Eastland County’s most countless notorious criminals. product of Bradford’s notorious crimes. love of history. When According to Sheriff Wayne Bradprison bars on the third floor. he was elected in 1996, he set to work ford, the facilities at the Old Eastland The jail’s toilets are primitive, showpreserving the Old Eastland County County jail were modern for their time. ers even more so, and ventilation is Jail by clearing years of junk, debris and The structure was built from stone almost nonexistent. Bradford said, “You evidence that had accumulated since salvaged see how it was in the past, 1980. Bradford said he arranged for from and how we’ve progressed unused equipment to be removed and the Old in law enforcement. It was “got an order from the district judge to Eastland primitive. Was it more of a dispose of [antiquated evidence] in it.” County deterrent back then without This involved separating out Courtheating and cooling? I don’t historically significant objects and sellhouse know, maybe it was.” ing the rest at an auction in front of the that For some prisoners it jail. burnt was unbearable. The sheriff Anyone who wishes to visit the musedown in acknowledged that, “Luckium is encouraged to contact the East1896. ly, we’ve progressed to more land County Sheriff’s Office to arrange a The jail was not a place of luxury; Three tour. “We’ve had tourists from Canada, showers and toilets were primitive and humane treatment of the stories the ventilation was almost nonexistent. prisoners. We treat them fair- England, Germany, Australia, and tall, the ly; we treat them honestly.” all over come visit,” Bradford said, “I building The jail updated throughlike to give most of the tours personally, featured living quarters below for the out the years, with the most substantial if I can.” Tours are generally available sheriff and family while the two upper being the installation of gas and electric- weeekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. floors were cell blocks. These were conity in 1934. One of the more comical
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 7
Although Dublin does not bottle Dr Pepper anymore, the iconic billboard is one of the last remnants of the town’s past.
Washing down the past with new flavors W
Story by Bethany Kyle Photos by Cameron Cook
The bottling company now serves 11 new flavors all from hometown Dublin, Texas.
8 | History
hen the company that bottled Dr Pepper in Dublin lost the right to make its iconic Dublin Dr Pepper, it entered a fight just to keep the 121-year-old establishment open. On Jan. 11, 2012, news stations lined up to get the story of Dublin’s last Dr Pepper bottling day after its six-month legal battle with the Dr Pepper corporation that revoked Dublin’s rights to bottle or distribute the beverage. Dublin Dr Pepper was identical to Dr Pepper except it was made with the original sweetener of pure cane sugar rather than high-fructose corn syrup.
Dr Pepper Snapple Group’s concern was that the name “Dublin” was above “Dr Pepper,” and that it was “diluting the brand,” said Kenny Horton, who started working at Dublin Bottling Works in 2005 and is now the head soda jerk. Unable to compete legally with the large corporation, the fight was settled, and the drink ceased to be created in Dublin. When the news crews left and the excitement died down, people in Dublin and the surrounding areas were left with the misconception that the bottling company had closed down for good. The annual influx of tourists dropped from 90,000 to 15,000 to 20,000,
and the company had to cut 15 of its 40 find a way to bring back their past cus- but there is an ideal place the Dublin job positions. tomers and fans to the new unique prod- operation would like it to go. “Our goal Horton saw Dublin Bottling Works ucts. for our products is to see our product in struggle through the changes and notHorton said the company has been every store in every town,” Horton said. ed that after a “mourning period,” the innovating ways to do “creative mar- The intent is to start with Texas, having town stepped up and did everything they keting” with its Dublin Bottling could to save the business. “The town has now-limited bud- “We are part of the Works’ products really jumped on board with us and sup- get. The business birth of the town, as in both the small ported us,” Horton said. began using more well as part of the retowns like Dublin Through the adjustment period, there of the power of and the large cities, birth of the town.” came a time when people realized that social media such then expand out~ Kenny Horton “It wasn’t about Dr Pepper; it was about as Facebook and side of the state. To Dublin Bottling Works,” said Executive Twitter to keep its achieve this, a new Director of the Chamber of Commerce name on customers’ minds through con- bottling facility will have to be built, a Luanne Schexnider. tests and giveaways. level that Dublin Bottling Works is not The Dublin Economic Development Facebook users post on the wall, often yet financially capable of reaching, but is Corporation helped the company back talking about how much they enjoyed the eventual goal. onto its feet financially and the Dublin their visit to Dublin Bottling Works. Dublin Bottling Works remains an inChamber of ComFacebook user Ka- tegral part of the historical Dublin commerce promotes it- “Everybody is on board; tie Laurian Gillil- munity that visitors have come to know. through any media the support is there.” and posted, “Love It is “the life of the town,” as Horton outlet that comes ~ Luanne Schexnider love love! You won’t called it, and is host to two of the town’s their way to help find anywhere else five museums, where they showcase their let people know that has drinks as collection of Dr Pepper memorabilia and that the business has not closed. That good as Dublin Bottling Works!” User historical pieces, which is the largest in has helped with the return of customers Rebecca Head Bartoli said, “Had a great the world. from both in and outside of town. time there with the “Everybody is on board; the support is family today.” there,” Schexnider said. However, HorThough many still believed it would ton still says the not be possible for Dublin Bottling No. 1 way to gain Works to survive at this point, the com- new customers is pany was not ready to give up. In June to “put a drink in 2012, Dublin Bottling Works released somebody’s hand” seven new flavors of soda, some of which so that a customhad been around for many years, just er has a chance to never bottled. Through the flavors’ suc- taste and share his cess, the operation was able to create or her opinion of it three more the following year, then one with others in conmore not long after that. These make up versation. the 11 flavors Dublin Bottling Works Dublin Botnow bottles and distributes, which are tling Works is far Empty Dr Pepper bottles line the walls in the bottling shop, Black Cherry, Texas Root Beer, Vintage from the business reminding those of the company’s troubled past. Cola, Cherry Limeade, Orange Cream, it was just a few Retro Grape, Retro Crème, Vanilla years ago, and this Cream, Tart N Sweet, Ginger Ale, and has created opportunities for the busiDublin and its bottling company Peach. ness to evolve. Before, the company was share a tie that makes each other what One of the main aspects that had to only allowed to sell Dublin Dr Pepper in they are, and the evolution of Dublin change was marketing strategy. Before, a 44-mile radius or through UPS ship- Bottling Works has not changed that. very little marketing was necessary be- ping. Now, the business’ reach has no “We are part of the birth of the town, as cause of Dublin Dr Pepper’s well-known limits, something it plan on getting them well as part of the rebirth of the town,” history that was shared across the state, back to their glory days. “The sky is really Horton said. “That history can never be country and world by word-of-mouth. the limit,” Horton said. taken away.” Since the loss, the company has had to The future is not yet set, of course,
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 9
Rocking back from the ashes
Story and Photos by Ashley Husbands
ocking his way into the Guinness Book of World Records, Larry Dennis shares his love of carpentry with all who visit the world’s largest rocking chair. What began as an idea to build a large rocking chair quickly grew into a team effort to create an iconic visitor stop along U.S. Highway 281 in Lipan, Texas. For years, Dennis crafted rocking chairs, but one day he “just wanted to build a big chair to sit out front,” he said. And a big chair he built. The idea first came to him three or four years earlier when a man showed Dennis a rocking chair much bigger than he had ever seen. The chair Dennis built was even larger than the one in the picture. Built to the scale of a regular rocking chair, it stands 25 feet 10.5 inches tall, 12 feet 7.375 inches wide, and weighs 5,672 pounds. Equally astounding is the
10 | History
amount of time it took to build it—five along Highway 281 is home to the and a half days. Dennis explained that Natty Flat Smokehouse and Texas Hill one morning when two of his sons were Country Furniture and Mercantile. home from college, he looked at them Although the business is currently thrivand said that the work today was going ing, Dennis said, “I’ve been around the to be more fun block a couple of “I’ve been around the than usual. “We times, but some of block a couple of times, are gonna build a them were rough but some of them were big chair, boys,” blocks.” Growing rough blocks.” he told them. As up in Tennes~ Larry Dennis see and coming each day passed, the team of workfrom a family ers alternated from three to five people “who didn’t have everything,” he had to working on the massive chair. In fact, work hard for every cent he earned and Dennis said he had no idea he had brolearned very early that hard work was ken a record until his grandson checked necessary to survive. During his school with the Guinness Book of World Records years, Dennis carved on his desk at and saw that it was the largest wooden school to stay entertained and was once cedar rocking chair in the world, which told by a teacher that he would never was later verified by the book and still amount to anything and would be dead holds the record today. or in prison before he reached a very late Besides the rocking chair, the stop age.
the store’s porches and of sandwiches and chips. Much like the foundation, and the front furniture business, the restaurant grew counter came from an old quickly in popularity. general store in Aledo. The Dennis believes people are attracted original floor and ceiling of to the store for several reasons. Many the old Harmony grammar times travelers pass by, see the chair and school, south of Weatherthe rustic building, and pull in. Word ford, makes up the walls of mouth is also a major contributor to of the store. In fact, the the amount of visitors, so much that it front entrance to the school attracts people from foreign countries. is currently the door on According to Dennis, the business has the store’s south wall. The furniture in 13 different countries. He store’s front winsaid they dows have survived never “I guess that carving a major fire and know who on the school desk decades of exposure finally paid off.” might stop after first installed ~ Larry Dennis by and he on the original Texas has “got to Christian University do a lot of campus. Enough history things and see a lot of neat people.” In seeps from every part of the his life he has met Willie Nelson, whom building and property to Dennis built a house for, and Robert make any history lover exDuvall, who came in the store and cited. Finally, seven types of spoke with the customers and to Dennis wood, many hours of hard for several hours. labor done by hand, and Dennis said, “it all took off and got This stop along Highway 281 in Lipan, Texas, is five months later, the Texas a lot bigger than we ever thought it hard to miss with its rocking chair towering 25 Hill Country Furniture and would” and believes it is important for feet above traffic. Mercantile store was born. people to like their jobs because it will Dennis’ wife, Sherry, ran reflect in their work. “We are really Dennis’ job at a cabinet shop with two older carpenters was a very different the store while he and other men experience from current constructing built furniture. techniques using nail guns and other The handmade common practices. Those men taught him valuable lessons that he still uses to rustic items gained popularity this day, like how to approach his projand people from ects and how the tools of the trade are all over the United more than just a tool, but a livelihood. States began to After his move to Weatherford, with visit. Shortly his family, Dennis opened a business. after, Dennis noTragically, 20 years later disaster struck and a fire destroyed the uninsured shop. ticed people started to ask where Completely broke and with no shop supplies, the family decided to move out nearby restaurants were. Many times to the land where their business now Texas Hill Country Furniture & Merchantile is run by customers would resides in Lipan. Dennis’ wife, Sherry. The store sells all the handmade rustic leave to go into Starting over, Dennis began with treasures Dennis creates. nearby towns to what he knew best, woodwork. With eat and have to the goal to use local materials with drive all of the way back to the store in lucky everything turned out good for as much historical value as possible order to finish shopping. At this time us,” he said. Then, with a smile on his to build the store, the search began. they decided to open a simple BBQ face, he added, “I guess that carving on According to a sign on the building, shop where Dennis’ brother, Roy, would the school desk finally paid off.” the sandstone and limestone from a cook and make simple meals consisting neighboring farm’s creek bed forms
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 11
Norwegian history comes alive Story and Photos by Madison Campbell
Calling it “home,” 17 Norwegian wegian immigrants found comfort just immigrants settled along the Bosque a few miles away from the river because River in 1852 after thousands of miles “the rolling hills reminded them of the and countless days of travel. “These Norwegian hills back home.” people were leaving Norway, coming According to the Texas State Historhere because of ical Association the religious freeat that time, “In “These people were dom,” Executive leaving Norway, coming recognition of his Vice President of service, the Texas here because of the Clifton Chamber legislature granted religious freedom.” of Commerce Peerson 320 acres ~ Paige Key of land in Bosque Paige Key said. In addition to the County.” In order 17 immigrants was Cleng Peerson, also to ensure he would be cared for as he known as the “Father of Norwegian Mi- grew older and unable to take care of gration.” Peerson earned the title after himself, Peerson gave half of the land he brought “800,000 people to Amerito Ovee Coldwich. Coldwich’s family ca,” according to Key. upheld their end of the deal and took The newly created Norse community care of Peerson until his dying day. along the river was uprooted, however, Peerson was buried in the cemetery due to the Bosque River flooding in at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in the 1854. Key said that the homesick NorHistoric Norse District of town. It was
12 | History
Photo courtesy of Paige Key shows the momument dedicated to Cleng Peerson with one side written in Norwegian and the other in English.
cember. The self-guided April and the Clifton Swirl in Novemtour allows visitors to take ber. a step back in time as they Although these events only happen travel across Clifton and the once a year, one important feature of the rolling hills of the Historic town is that “Clifton is one of 22 culNorse District, exploring tural art districts in the state of Texas,” the old churches and homes. The tour educates the guests on the Norwegian landmarks still standing today like Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, the St. Olaf ’s Lutheran Church, also known as Most of the early Norwegian settlers, including the “Old Rock “The Father of Norwegian Migration” Cleng Church,” and the Peerson, is buried at the Our Savior’s Luthern Ringness home Church Cemetery in Clifton, Texas. where Peerson lived out his final days. Key said. While the Norwegian Whether you visit to take in the Country Christmas event history, tour the rolling hills on your Worship services began in 1896 at the St. Olaf ’s educates people on the bicycle, come to enjoy the NorweLutheran Church, also known as “The Old Rock history, the Bosque Tour de gian-like scenery or quench your thirst Church,” in the Historic Norse District Norway biat the local microbrewof Clifton. cycle race in “Clifton is one of eries, Clifton and its 20 May allows nationally recognized 22 cultural art this, and the town’s rich Norwegian participants to take in artists make this small districts in the history, that led the state legislature to the breathtaking view town picturesque. declare Clifton the Norwegian Capital state of Texas.” of the region. The town of Texas in May 1997. ~ Paige Key also hosts the Boots and Visitors come from all across the Brew beer festival in state, country and yes, Norway to experience some of the historic events Clifton hosts. A majority of visitors come from Houston. “Over 7,000 Norwegians are living there due to oil,” Key explained. According to Key, the second most popular country people have migrated from is Norway. Five hundred million Norwegian immigrants or descendants of immigrants live in the state of Texas alone. Clifton, with the old Historic Norse District, hosts several events throughout the year to educate the public about the history of Norwegian immigration. The most popular event, bringing in 500 to 1,000 guests annually, is the Before his death in 1865, Cleng Peerson lived here in the Norse community for Norwegian Country Christmas that is 11 years being cared for by the Coldwich family. hosted on the first Saturday of De-
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 13
boot scootin’ for 20 years On Saturday nights on the northern City Limits rocks with music of all switched over to nonsmoking facilities edge of Stephenville, a red neon sign varieties that co-owner V.W. Stephens and are in the process of adding more shines bright across the parking lot has booked. Live bands mostly play modern technology to the establishfilling fast with cars ment. and pickup trucks. Twenty Inside, forks clank years of success on almost-empty comes from the plates of food. fact that, “V.W. Boots scoot across loves working, the crowded dance loves building floor as the sounds and loves City of laughter and Limits. We music bounce off believe in what the walls. we do. We beCity Limits and lieve in doing The Agave Bar and everything the Grill are celebrating best we can 20 years of busido,” she said. A couple two-steps across the dancefloor on City Limits’ Texas Tuesday night. ness. “We believe in “We are a supporting our restaurant club and banquet facility Texas country music, but the venue community, schools, and employees. that caters to all ages—family owned also hosts up-and-coming singers. The Why our business has survived—V.W. and operated with customer service as wooden dance floor brims with couples enjoys his customers!” our primary focus,” co-owner Cynthia two steppin’, partners spinning around Customers also seem to enjoy City Stephens said. “We believe we are in and new relationships forming. Others Limits and The Agave, based on rethe business of making memories.” entertain themselves by shooting pool, views from City Limits’ Facebook page. When you walk in The Agave Bar sipping drinks and sampling the food. “I like everything about this place!” one and Grill, the place buzzes with converThe Stephenses said they felt Stecustomer commented. “The owners… sation. The aroma of food wafts from phenville needed a bar and dancehall, Mr. and Mrs. Stephens and Linda the kitchen where Cynthia Stephens so in 1994 they they opened one. Even (manager of the establishment) are leads as the head chef. after two decades, the business continsome of the nicest people I have met in ues to flourish with facil- Stephenville… The food is great… and ities and services added all the bartenders really make you feel on to City Limits—The like you’re important to them.” Agave Bar and Grill, College students typically come for The Cabo, the City Hall the bands that play, the specials and the Banquet Facility, The uniqueness City Limits offers. Put simErath Grape and Modern ply, the venue offers good food, good GraphX. Also, City Lim- times and good memories. “After a its and The Agave have crazy week at school,” Tarleton student Benton Witt said, “it is a great place City Limits prepares for to go and have fun with your group guests with an open dance of friends and other fellow Texans.” floor, flashing lights and upbeat music.
Story and Photos by Madison Stout
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 15
Jones focuses his lens on war and history
Story by Savannah Trantham 16 | Art
A 155 millimeter howitzer firing at enemy positions from forward operating base (FOB) Boris - Eastern Afghanistan.
D “We were more about what soldiers go through every day, especially after multiple tours.” ~ Donald Jones
onald Jones’ long career as a photojournalist began as a child when he discovered the power of images — and the advantages of being the person behind the camera. Jones began to take photographs at a very young age. “I realized I could save money on ticket prices by getting in as a photographer,” he quipped. As he got older, he began to shoot the photographs he enjoyed, like motorcycles and boxing. Then he found a way to make a living — and a life — out of shooting pictures. By the time the Vietnam War was winding down, Jones was just getting old enough to join the military. At 17, he became a non-combatant in the U.S. Marine Corps. After serving his country from 1970 to 1974, he decided to attend the University of Texas at Arlington. While in school Jones enrolled in the basic photojournalism courses. He was already out there having real world experiences working with magazines. “When I got my undergrad, I was already working professionally,” he recalled. Jones said that after college, he couldn’t wait to get back into the military field. “Since I’m a former Marine, almost immediately I gravitated toward getting back out in the field with soldiers,” he explained. In 1980, Jones shot photographs for the Gamma-Liaison Photo Agency, which sent him to El Salvador and Nicaragua. The photos he shot for the agency received worldwide distribution. With his military experience and love of photography, Jones found his calling as a war correspondent. In 2006, he traveled to Iraq and then to Afghanistan in 2010 for the Fort Worth Weekly. He said he was given a lot of freedom and space. “They gave me lots of room for photos, and they also gave me lots of room for print,” he said. “It’s exciting,” Jones added. “It goes from being completely boring and ordinary to extremely noisy and exhilarating in the next second.” Anyone who talks to Jones about his experience shooting photography overseas can tell he loved getting firsthand photographs of combat. “There used to be a saying back in the ‘80s,” he said. “They’d call it the ‘bang bang club,’ like bang, like a gun bang.” He explained that people would go where they believed they could get the most “bang bang.” The really intense gun fighting situations used to make great imagery. “When I went to Afghanistan, we could have gone
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 17
to the Helmand Province which is down south, or out east where we went to Paktika, and we decided that we could have gotten all the ‘bang bang’ we wanted to in Helmand, but that wasn’t the reason for our story,” he said. “We were more about what soldiers go through every day, especially after multiple tours.” After shooting combat photography, Jones began to work at Tarleton State University in 2009 as a photojournalism professor. He is now retired after falling ill and having to stop teaching. “Once I got sick I went ahead and retired, but I miss the kids and teaching, so I still try to get up there every once and awhile,” he said. Every now and then, students at Tarleton can catch Jones speaking to other photojournalism classes and giving an even better look into what a photojournalist does. When Jones starts speaking about his photos and experiences, student can’t help but find more meaning behind his photos. One way to view this images is by attending his art exhibit.
Troops gather up their gear as they prepare to head out on the next mission. Photos by Donald Jones
18 | Art
Children heading back home from the market stopped to pose for a picture with an American soldier on patrol.
(Far Left) Shown is the aftermath of a missile strike. (Left) Servicemen and women wait to board a helicopter to fly out for a mission. Serving the area, the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council is dedicated to provide opportunities for the public to view a variety of art. Enhancing the area artistically, the council features work from amateurs and professionals alike. Executive Director of the council, Julie Crouch, said “our exhibits are free and open to the public.” Communications professor at Tarleton State University, Dan Malone, called and suggested the council feature Jones’ work from his experiences overseas. There will be a preview and reception on May 5, and from May 6 to June 27, the council’s River North Gallery will display his work. His “work is a very compelling look at the day-to-day life of our troops,” Crouch said. The council’s intention is that “through this exhibit, we hope to tell a bigger story. These photos are not only about our troops, but the freedom and a better way of life for those we are fighting for,” Crouch said. Keli Jo Cummings also contributed to this story.
“My artwork takes me on a path of spirituality and I learn a little bit more through each piece about God’s will.” ~ Stacey Watkins
“Reign of Light” is the title of this work of art that resembles an angel. The angel disperses light around itself through Watkins’ unique painting style.
Artist finds spiritual connection in creative journey her pieces hangs in the Nursing BuildStory By Jenna Hagan Photos by Sherry Gaston ing at Tarleton State University. Ashley Through science and spirituality, sensational art is created. Owner and artist at Your Private Art Gallery, Stacey Watkins, said she “was creating a memorial for the passing of my Shih Tzu dog. I did not have much on mind except the idea of my dog’s spirit journeying towards heaven.” After creating the angel for her dog, Watkins’ husband turned off the lights and the face of her dog appeared. It was then, that Watkins knew this was a talent she should pursue. When creating her pieces, Watkins uses phosphorus throughout her art that allows natural light to be absorbed within the piece. Turn off the lights, add a black light and the art will glow a green and blue color. However, natural light causes the artwork to continuously change color and evolve. In addition, Watkins uses resin, which is lighter than glass, making it much easier to hang larger pieces on walls or ceilings. One of
Obudzinski, an education major, said “The artwork brings a new vibe into the building. It also brings a sense of diversity and uniqueness that drives students to another level.” She admires Watkins’ art for the beauty it holds and loves that each day begins with Watkins’ artwork. Students at Tarleton claim to connect with Watkins’ art that is displayed in the Nursing Building on the Stephenville campus. Jacob Martin, a psychology major, has been to the gallery in Granbury multiple times and said, “No matter how much I go to My Private Art Gallery, I always find something new about Watkins’ art.” Watkins hopes that when people look at her art, they find a sense of connection, and Martin testifies to feeling and understanding so much from her art. Garret Maples, an accounting major, agrees that Watkins’ art is more than something pretty on a wall, but is a piece of art he relates to. After visiting the gallery, Maples said the artwork
has personal meaning to him and that “Watkins does not even know the amount of joy her artwork brings to students at Tarleton and around Granbury.” Watkins said she connects to her art through her spirituality. “My artwork takes me on a path of spirituality and I learn a little bit more through each piece about God’s will,” she explained. Watkins wants each piece to tell a story, have meaning and create connections. She creates a lot of her pieces for people who have lost loved ones. Watkins said that, many times, she feels that she needs to add something unusual to the piece. Typically, that strange addition tends to have sentimental meaning to the family. This whole journey becomes a healing process for the families of lost loved ones and for Watkins as she learns so much from each piece she creates. It is a never-ending process of learning and spirituality for her. Watkins constantly works on her art, and endlessly works on her connection with God.
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 19
When the pages of this book are fanned out, as shown here, a picture of a horsedrawn carriage appears. This art is known as a foreedge painting.
“Today everything is so fast, and there is not enough time for books,” said Sarah Bridges, an owner of one of Stephenville’s hidden jewels. Bridges and her husband, Shawn, own two bookstores, the Literary Lion and the Paperback Lion. These bookstores may not look like much from the outside, but inside, both hold so much imagination, adventure, wonder, history and unique ideas that only a book can give a reader.
The Literary Lion
Never judge a bookstore by its cover
The Literary Lion’s uniqueness stems from its dedication as an antiquarian bookstore that focuses on rare, unusual or collectible books. The Literary Lion houses a variety of books dating to the 17th century. However, an incunabula, or pre-printing press manuscript, the owner has is a leaf from a Bible that dates to the 13th century. “I love having this,” Bridges said. “It feels like I’ve gone back in time when I hold it. This was before English was English. We are talking about knights in shining armor and you can actually see where the quill pen would scratch.
Among the rare items scattered about the bookstore is a typewriter that popular western author Ray Hogan used to write many of his novels.
20 | Art
Story by Sara Gann Photos by Rachel Peoples
Some poor scribe was probably copying this by candlelight.” Published in 1678, An Apology is the oldest printed book at the Literary Lion. The book was written in defense of the Quaker religion and was influential during its time period because the religion was starting to become popular and because Quakers were considered heretics. Bridges said the book was important because, as the author wrote, “This is what it means to be a Quaker.” In order to protect people from persecution, names have been removed from An Apology since it was addressed to Charles II, who was king of Great Britain at the time. Another unusual book featured at the Literary Lion is Burlesque, written by Mark Twain. This least known work
When the Bridges took over The Literary Lion, a mystery began to puzzle them. Lion figures have been found behind books and on shelves, adding to the riddle of each lion left behind.
focuses on the past, it is currently transforming into a homeschool library open to the public. “We have a very vibrant homeschool community,” Bridges explained. Because both owners are teachers, the two agreed the Literary Lion seemed like a perfect place for a library. Classes like video game design and Latin will be held at of Twain’s was written in 1871 and only 114 copies were the homeschool library during regular semesters. Also availproduced. The raunchy and humorous story, written as a reable is tutoring for any class. “It’s not just having good books, sponse to some reviewers at the time, was passed around to a it’s having the time to digest them that’s really important,” variety of people. The reason Burlesque is Twain’s least known Bridges said, quoting one of her favorite authors, Ray Bradbook is due to his anonymity at the time. bury. The library will open May 1 this year. Of all the books that have ever been published, many are unusual, many historically significant and some written just The Paperback Lion to tell a story. Sometimes people read because they have to, Across the street from the Literary Lion is its sister store, the Paperback Lion, a discounted fiction bookstore filled from because it is required, but what about all the books we want to read? Bridges’ advice to all is that floor to ceiling with books of every “When you read what you enjoy, that is genre. Upon entering the bookstore, “We are so book-rich in the smell of worn and well-read books America, and even places when someone gets the lifelong love of reading. I would just encourage people stimulates the senses. There is an awe in America are hungry to pass on the love of reading to their factor that makes book lovers want to for books.” kids, and to make time in their families say “wow” as they roam, making sure ~ Sarah Bridges for books, whether it’s a read aloud or not to trip over any books that might be just going to a book shop. But I would stacked up at their feet. Even though The Paperback Lion may not have the history really encourage people to realize that that is a gift they can or collectibles like the Literary Lion possesses, all of the books give their kids for a lifetime.” from both stores always find a home. “We are so book-rich in America, and even places in America are hungry for books,” Bridges said. “All over the world there are places in desperate need of books. We’ve donated books to libraries in Bermuda, Africa, prisons and veteran’s programs.” Bridges heard somewhere that “we are never the owners A customer donatof the books, just merely the caretaker ed this lion chair until the next” and wants to see that no to the Bridges, book is ever thrown away. adding to the lion collection and Future Homeschool Library theme of the bookWhile the Literary Lion’s content store.
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 21
Adventures along the Brazos River The Brazos River is the longest river in Texas, stretching 1,280 miles from its source in Stonewall County to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico in Brazoria County. Along its banks are many popular destinations for tourists or locals looking to beat the Texas heat. The river’s history is as long and winding as its currents. Originally named Los Brazos de Dios, which translates to “The Arms of God,” because it was the first water found by dehydrated explorers. At one time nearly every prison in Texas was near the Brazos, so there are many prison songs that prominently feature it.
Possum Kingdom State Park
Located in Palo Pinto County, Possum Kingdom State Park is home to more than 300 miles of shoreline, clear blue water and many scenic coves. Visitors are welcome to swim, boat, fish, ski, scuba dive and snorkel. Staff member Carolyn Mallory said Memorial Day and Easter Weekend are usually their busiest days. “Easter is a big weekend for coming out and having their Easter egg hunts or BBQ, so they’re usually there all weekend,” she said. She said the park doesn’t allow fireworks, but they have a fireworks display for the Fourth of July at the Hell’s Gate rock formation, “so a lot of people bring boats so they can watch.” The park also offers educational opportunities like special tours and events, as well as Junior Ranger Explorer Packs, available for free checkout at the park, to provide children with a fun way to learn about nature.
Cedars on the Brazos
This bed and breakfast is located just
outside of Glen Rose in Somervell County. On top of a wooded bluff, the facility is right on the river and offers beautiful views of the water. This destination is perfect for bird and wildlife enthusiasts, as it is home to an abundance of Texas wildlife. The rustic feel of the main lodge at the Cedars White-tailed deer, wild lends to its hidden away feeling. turkey, fox, rabbits and armadillos make their and a wide sandy beach. The sites home on the property. are nestled in a lush pecan grove near The central lodge at the bed and the beach. Each campsite includes a breakfast boasts a rustic Texas design grill, water faucet and clean, outdoor, and features cedar beams, mounted portable toilets. You can bring your deer heads and beautiful stonework. own firewood or purchase some from The rooms are large, yet they have a the business owners. Campers are also cozy feel. The Cedars also offers three welcome to rent tubes and float the suites, named the Copper Tejas Suite, river. By appointment, you can go on the Comanche Sunset Suite and the Dream Catcher Suite. This destination one of their guided tours, including bow fishing, noodling and airboat tours is perfect for romantic getaways and of the Brazos. One hot commodity at offers services like couples massages, romantic candlelit dinners and gourmet Brazos River Adventurez is a spacious lodge that Lile said is used mainly for picnic baskets to take on hikes along family reunions. He said the lodge is the river. perfectly big enough to fit “all the kids Brazos River Adventurez and grandkids and great-grandkids.” Owner Tom Lile said bow fishing is Although the entire year is busy, the when “you go out at night, you turn majority of their business comes in the lights on on your boat and you during the summer months. shoot the fish in the river with a bow Whether you’re a new couple, a and arrow.” As for noodling, he said, father wanting to take a fishing trip or “it’s when you fish with your hand.” a family looking for an outdoorsy place You put your hand in the water, wait to have your next reunion, the Brazos for the fish to bite and grab and haul it River will fulfill your needs. These are up. No equipment necessary. just a few of the many exciting things In addition to these activities, Brazos to do on the Brazos, so if you’re looking River Adventurez boasts 15 beautifor water-logged fun in the sun, get out ful shaded campsites, picnic tables there and have an adventure!
Story by Kendra Geer and Bethann Coldiron Photos by Kendra Geer
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 23
Zebras and rhinos and cheetahs, oh my! Story and Photos by Katie Gibbs
Have you ever wanted to go on a wildlife safari but not travel to another continent? That’s the kind of journey you can experience at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center, with all the wonder and excitement right here in Texas. Fossil Rim is a scenic wildlife drive that allows you to observe exotic and endangered species that roam freely in natural conditions. About 1,100 animals live at the wildlife ranch and most are available to see. The different species include variations of antelopes, aoudads, birds, carnivores, deer, equids, oryx and rhinos. This year Fossil Rim celebrates its 30th anniversary Driving through the front gate into Fossil Rim makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. Exotic hooved animals wait for the first set of cars that could give them extra treats. They approach the vehicle in front of me quickly looking for a handout, but after not finding any. Soon a herd looking for food surrounds us. The animals stick their heads in through the window and only move away when feed is thrown out of the car and onto the ground. We eventually leave them behind and continue on the tour. We stop near the watering hole where a herd of zebra grazes. They seem to
24 | Nature
want to come closer to the vehicle and relations and after we throw some food pellets, they memberships, has approach. Up close they look remarkbeen working on ably like horses and even make the same promoting Fossil sounds. Rim. Judging Seeing them up close is not somefrom the lines of thing that people normally have the vehicles during chance to do, but visitors and Fossil busy days, the Rim employees get to experience the word is out about animals in natural habitats. “Fossil Rim Fossil Rim. “The is a great place to work and the people busiest time for us have passion for their jobs and animal is during spring conservation,” Alyssa Martin, the cenbreak. We generter’s marketing assistant, said. ally get about 900 Fossil Rim also is special because it cars,” Lewis said. was the first facility to be accredited Considering all of the animals on by the American Zoo and Aquarium the property, people probably wonder Association. Fossil Rim participates in a how employees keep track of all of worldwide network of wildlife conserthem. “We don’t always put tags on the vation organizations. Many of the species at the park are endangered and are part of the Species Survival Plan through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Warren Lewis, director of Ostrich chicks take a nap in the middle of the day. marketing, public
A herd of zebras: come up to the road for a chance at treats from visitors.
animals,” Lewis explained. “If they see the vet or when they are small, are the times when we tag them. Males are tagged on the right ear and females are on the left.” On Feb. 17, a fire broke out at the nature store so temporary plans are underway. Fossil Rim is planning to rebuild the store halfway through the park on a high hill called the Overlook, which also is the site of a café, picnic areas, a Children’s Animal Center and nature trails. Currently, people can make donations on the Fossil Rim website or contribute to their “buy a brick campaign,” which can also be found on the website. Every brick purchased will be carved with the donor’s name and placed along a path leading to the new nature store. Fossil Rim has different ideas for celebrating its anniversary, but for now they are still planning and nothing is for sure yet. One way you can help celebrate is to visit, make memories and help save animals. Fossil Rim is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The hours and prices change seasonally. The center is located at 2299 County Road 2008 west of Glen Rose off U.S. Highway 67. For information about hours of operation, pricing and special tours, call 254-897-2960 or visit www.fossilrim.org.
Go behind the scenes of Fossil Rim Wildlife Center to see a cheetah up close and personal.
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 25
Ghost towns echo stories of the past Story By Kaitlyn Tonkin and Clifford Jones Photos by Jazz Mangham and Kaitlyn Tonkin
hroughout the Cross Timbers area, once thriving cities are now home to few residents and echo stories from the past. Time has taken its toll, leaving just a remembrance of the town from its prime. These ghost towns, though small, are full of rich history and home to beautiful sights.
The town that was once famous for its coal and brick is now just a reminder of what it once was. “As the oil industry expanded, the need for oil grew as coal demand dropped. The coal mines, by 1926, were all gone, the brick plant still survived until the early c. 30s until asphalt was used for paving roads.” Mary Adams, the W.K. Gordon Centers museum educator, said. In its prime, Thurber’s population reached 8,000 to 10,000, according to the 2010 census, and even though the population has dwindled, a small community remains. On the edge of Palo Pinto County and Erath County, Thurber features many old buildings such as an old miners home, original bandstand, an original smoke stack and a historical museum. The bandstand was unique in that it was sold and moved to Stephenville, and it was converted into a house,” Adams said. After moving around, the band-
26 | Nature
stand was finally returned to its home in Thurber in its original form. Thurber is also home to a hunting lodge called The Greystone Hunting Lodge, styled like a castle. According to one of the lodge guides, an Englishman who missed the English countryside built the lodge. People continue to visit family members who are buried in the towns cemetery, but Thurber will always be remembered as the town that it once was.
There is a certain mystery to chalk mountain. Since the 1850s, Chalk Mountain’s population has become close to non-existent. The reason? No one knows. The town of Chalk Mountain, located in Erath County, was established as a trading center during the Civil War. According to “Ghost Towns of Texas” by T. Lindsey Baker, in Chalk Mountain’s prime, the town was home to a post office, two churches, cotton gin, school, school, and a unique Masonic lodge. Only now those sites have been reduced to the lodge, two churches and some abandoned homes. Only about a dozen residents live in Chalk Mountain today, but this town is definitely worth a visit. The area is filled with faded buildings, it reminds observers it was once full of life.
In Thurber, this rundown house shows how the years have passed since a familiy lived here.
Comyn, located in Comanche County, is similar to Chalk Mountain. The remnants of a town once busy and lively are all that remain. Comyn was known as an oil town in the 20th century, even though the previous settlers cam to town during the 1870s. With the decline of oil production the Humble Pipe Line Co. caused the decline of the population. The school shut down in 1952 due to the decline of attendance. Today, what remains in Comyn is the Humble Pipe Line and oil tanks that have now been converted into a peanut storage company, known as Golden Peanut Co. Comyn seems to be empty and meets the true meaning of a ghost town.
Mystery surrounds Chalk Mountain as the reason why residents vanished is unknown. However, it is a beautiful place to visit and if you wander around enough you may even find the old railroad tracks.
On County Road 185 a small grave is marked. It reads “Little girl, age 3, died 1870 moving west.” The cause of her death is unknown and now the town tradition to place flowers at her resting place.
to protect the settlers from Comanche Indians. Around 1877, Ben and William Funderburg acquired Fort Blair and renamed the town Desdemona after a local Justice of the Peace’s daughter. Sipe Springs In the 20th century, Hog Creek Oil In the town of Sipe Springs located Co. struck an oil well, catapulting Desin Comanche County, country roads demona as one of the oil boomtowns. dominate the town. One goes to the Desdemona The population was at an estimated high cemetery, the other leads to downtown Desdemona is a tiny town that lies of 16,000 between 1919 and 1922 with Sipe Springs. Many old buildings still in the northeastern part of Eastland stand downtown like the community County. Almost 100 years ago, the now people either working or living in Desdemona. By 1921, the amount of oil the center and volunteer fire department. quiet town of less than 200, was once a town produced dramatically declined, The history of Sipe Springs began bustling, rough and tumble oil boomcausing many to leave. Due to poor around 1870 with the first settlers, but town. sanitation, petroleum pools flowed into it was not until the streets causing 1873 that the fires, typhoid fever town was officially and influenza. established accordThe town erupted ing to the Texas in fires destroying State Historical hotels and city Association. In blocks. The school 1918, the town shut down in the grew with the 1960s and by discovery of oil. 2000 the populaThe population tion has dropped of Sipe Springs to 180. decreased slowly There are severas the promise al ghost towns in of oil was short the Cross Timbers lived. But in the The population of Comyn faded with the promise of oil. area and these are 1930s the water just a few. Go out supply began to and discover their stories of the past and deplete, hurting all of the local farms. Unlike Thurber, which reigned as see what mysteries – and ghosts – you From 1988 to 2000 the population was leader in coal and brick, Desdemona’s estimated at 75. fame and fortune came and went as fast might find. One mystery that surrounds Sipe a flash flood. Desdemona was founded Springs is the death of a young girl. as Hogtown in the 1850s as Fort Blair
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 27
The wonderful world of Whitney Story by Jack Cochran Photos by Nathan Ellison Dubbed the “Official Getaway Capital of Texas” in 2005, scenic Whitney has more to offer than meets the eye. Seated on the large, gorgeous Lake Whitney, the town is picturesque. No matter the season, the lake is worth the visit. Even if it’s too cold for a dip, you can stroll along on the shore to take in the landscape. Cottages and cabins dot the lakeside, but other options are also available for lodging. Lake fun options vary from retreats to boating, fishing and even scuba diving. The town also offers shopping and events such as music festivals and lawnmower racing. The Whitney Area Museum, established in 1990, is a collection of information and artifacts describing the town’s rich history. Although Whitney is home to roughly 2,000 people, the town received national attention due to a particular news article that is currently
on display at the museum. The article, from Life Magazine in 1949, portrayed one of the most prominent events from the town’s past—a controversy over park benches. International Attention In 1922, local pharmacist D. Scarborough placed the benches outside of his pharmacy. At the time, some older men of the community would sit, chew their tobacco and talk the day away while people walked by. The men loved this spot against the wall of the pharmacy across the street from the local hospital. The old-timers would whistle at the women walking by, and rumors spread that they used foul language and inappropriate conversation as well. Just 27 years later, the old men found themselves in a heated battle with the women of the town. After having
These benches have been around for decades, and remain a reminder of the controversy that brought Whitney to the public eye in 1949.
28 | Nature
Karon Worley takes a look back at the Battle of the Benches story Life Magazine published about the town’s biggest controversy that occured when she was a child. enough of the men’s habits, the women complained to the town’s mayor, Fred Basham. Basham responded by having
Established in 1990, the Whitney Area Museum features exhibits from Whitney’s history, including displays on the town’s beginnings and early days. the police chief move the benches to an great accomplishments Texas has made alley in the middle of the night. Flusover the years. Each table has a plaque tered, the men gave the new seats a try, on the corner naming some of Texas’ but they were not pleased. Some went most well known and historical cities. back to their original spot in front of The menu is chock-full of items and the pharmacy and simply stood or sat many original recipes, with humorous on the ground. captions to go along with them. The However, this Texas Cheese Steak “We would like every was not good reads, “Another of guest to feel comfortenough for them, our own creations! able, and each experiand the men Texas Cube steak moved the bench- ence to exceed their seasoned up’n sauexpectations of service, es back to the téed with onions’n quality and value.” original location. jalapenos served ~ Judy Smith up on a cheddar This went back and forth multiple jalapeno sourtimes until Bashdough bun! Now am decided to put the location of the this is a true Texas Sammich!” benches to a vote. In August 1949, the Now, it wouldn’t be a Texas eatery men won the election with a count of without good pie. “Coconut Meringue 124 to 67. Basham ordered new benches is our top seller, with signature Caramel to be made, with soft cushions and even Apple Pecan as a close second,” manager a brand-new water fountain. Judy Smith said. The townsfolk love the restaurant and Local Eatery talk happily across tables to each other The food in Whitney is delightabout town life and events. “Sundays ful and one of the town’s 14 favorite are the busiest days, with 475 to 550 restaurants is the Texas Great Country people within eight hours,” Smith Cafe and Pie Pantry. While the title is a said. Texas Great Country Cafe and mouthful, the food is even more so. The Pie Pantry opened in November 2009 restaurant is decorated with framed his- and since then has become more than torical informational posters that list the just a business. Smith works alongside
her daughter, and has for 17 years. “My daughter and I work seven days a week,” Smith said, “and we are 100 percent dedicated to having a successful business. We would like every guest to feel comfortable, and each experience to exceed their expectations of service, quality, and value.” With its wonderful food, delightful people, amusing history and variety of fun activities, you will not want to miss out on the “Official Getaway Capital of Texas.”
Aunt Becky’s Apple Pie is one of Texas Great Country’s signature recipes, and goes great with a scoop of Blue Bell Ice Cream.
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 29
Healing through horses Story by MAdison CAmpbell
What began as a program for nine Located in TSU’s Equine Center, children from local elementary schools TREAT offers therapy sessions every has now developed into a organization Monday and Wednesday throughout servicing hundreds of special needs inthe spring, summer and fall semesters. dividuals throughout the state of Texas. A majority of the TREAT program’s Only one year away from celebrating riders, or therapy patients, live within its 20th year of operation, the Tarleton close proximity to TSU; however, severState University Equine Assisted Theral travel from surrounding cities such as apy (TREAT) program was started on Weatherford and Goldthwaite to attend February 27, 1995 by Dr. David Snyder, therapy sessions and special rodeo days. an animal sciences professor at Tarleton Tarleton students work with riders State University. and horses as a part of their degree, but “The idea began a long time ago some come to volunteer personal time. when I visited a therapeutic riding “I volunteered for special events before center in Michigan,” I took the class,” said “I have learned Snyder said. “It develanimal production maoped over the years and the ins and outs jor and TREAT intern when I came to TarBethany Jenson. “Then of how certain leton, they had a great people respond to I took the class and fell facility. So, along with in love with it, became certain animals a couple of local special an intern and I always and vice versa.” education teachers, we try to go out and help ~ Bethany jenson got it started.” when I have time.” Over the years, Even though TREAT has provided physical and TREAT is geared toward encouraging mental rehabilitation through the use of growth and healing for the riders, the therapeutic horseback riding. TREAT “students learn, many for the first time, offers help to individuals in a variety how to work with people with special of ways through 30-minute therapy needs and how to use the horse in thersessions and rodeos designed specifically apy,” Snyder said. “It is a life changing for those with special needs. experience for many of them. Riders get exercise, build confidence and self esteem and get to interact with college students.” Jenson said, “I have learned the ins and outs of how certain people respond to certain aniPhoto courtesy of mals and vice Dr. David Synder versa. Working shows the rare serwith TREAT vice TREAT offers, has allowed me back-riding. This to gain basic opportunity uses an knowledge of official back-rider therapeutic supporting the wheelhorseback chair bound client.
30 | Nature
Photo courtesy of Dr. David Synder shows one TREAT rider playing basketball atop Brady, the program’s only Clydesdale. riding. It has also helped me gain leadership skills and customer service skills that can be used in any occupation. It has allowed me to hone my skills in working with horses and people together.” TREAT hosted its first special kids’ rodeo in 2002. Now, the large-scale rodeo occurs twice a year and consists of therapeutic riding, roping lessons, stick horse barrel racing and other activities. By transporting the program’s workers, horses and supplies, TREAT mobilizes its services allowing for more children and adults to experience the benefits of equine assisted therapy, from visually impaired children in Merkel, Texas, to children of military members at Fort Hood, Texas. TREAT’s approaching 20th anniversary is scheduled to introduce a few changes to the program. “The immediate future will add a full time therapeutic riding instructor,” Snyder said. “A proposal has been submitted for approval in the Fall 2014. We are expanding our program to include a specific session for veterans and additional sessions for children in foster care.”
Lone Star arena gallops ahead Story by Jessica Parton
After Brad Boyd purchased Lone Star the main arena. This weekly event is Each Wednesday night, bull riding Arena from Marcie and Paul Sullivan what sparked Boyd’s interest in purchas- is a “no cost to enter” event for riders over a year ago, the community of ing the arena from the Sullivans. to gain experience on bulls that are Stephenville began to notice improveBoyd is invested in the bucking bull readying for their future in the PBR, ments almost immediately. One of the industry that includes bucking bulls on with $500 put up by the arena for the first changes made was the new electhe Professional Bull Riders level. After top three riders. While the renovations tronic marquee to invite contestants and bringing his younger bulls to get seaat Lone Star are still in the works, each spectators from the highway and around soned before making their debuts, Boyd week brings record-breaking crowds to the world. watch the weekly events. More changes are Lone Star Arena works planned but the modificawith Career Services tion process will be slow. through Tarleton to hire Even though it is only rodeo-savvy students to April, the arena has already help in all aspects of what is booked events for the rest to be expected on the job in of this year and is already their future field of employlooking at the calendar for ment. 2015. “We like to shop (for “With all the events for staff) among the Tarleton this year, there are only four students to build a better open weekends left,” says staff that shares a strong arena manager Tommy Grabelief in working towards ham, “which is the reason the same goal,” Graham why arena reforms are such said with a smile. a slow working process.” Lone Star Arena plans Photo courtesy of the Lone Star Arena that hosts “Buck ‘N Fortunately, having a to continue improving the Duck” every Wednesday night. well-rounded staff team quality of event production consisting of part- and full-time staff as decided that this would be an opporfor the supportive Stephenville commuwell as a support staff makes the protunity to purchase an arena to improve nity. One of its major goals is to expand duction system possible. the quality of rodeo productions for the the crowd from strictly rodeo fans to “After each production ending on public while also bucking his bulls on a other fan groups of events such as the a Sunday, the arena staff cleans on weekly basis. circus and even motocross. Monday and part of the day Tuesday, “The numbers speak for themselves With the plan of enclosing the entire which slows down the renovations of when it comes to the increasing number arena to create a year-round heating and the arena,” Graham explained. of contestants that have continued to air conditioning system for contestants Even though drastic changes have show up since the positive improveand spectators, Lone Star is still a work been made, such as the disassembly of ments the arena has undergone,” Grain progress. However long this process the stalls next to the arena, the arena is ham said. may take, citizens of Stephenville will still the host to numerous weekly events. Before Boyd purchased the arena, know where to go when the Lone Star Each Wednesday night Lone Star hosts the number of contestants riding bulls marquee lights up the sky on U.S. “Buck ‘N Duck,” which consists of a at Buck ‘N Duck was usually under 10 Highway 377 on the edge of the town barrel racing jackpot on one end of the participants; now there are anywhere that calls itself the “Cowboy Capital of arena, bull riding on the other and a from “20 to sometimes 40 riders in a the World.” team roping in the practice pen behind single night.”
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 31
The park’s amphitheater and 20-mile trailway are home to many of the interpretive programs.
‘Life is better outside’ Story and Photos by Autumn Owens
At least, that’s according to Lake Mineral Wells State Park, because the world is becoming more urbanized,” he explained. a 3,200-acre hidden gem located just off U.S. Highway 180. The park hosts a range of different activities, including Upon entry, a striking view of the lake makes the park feel camping, kayaking, rock climbing, fishing and unique interopen and inviting. Located at the front of the park, along the pretive programs, with a variety of natural and cultural events. water, is a little shop with a serene fishing dock at the rear. Some events are geared specifically for children; however, Surrounded by enormous rock formations on the southeast most of them can be enjoyed by adults and families. side of the lake, the climbing area (Penitentiary Hollow) is Among some of the programs are kids wilderness survival, peaceful with the perfect combination of sun and shade. The bird walks, wildflower bicycle tours, storytelling and cowboy entire west side of the lake is devoted to campsites and trails campfire music. Assistant Superintendent David Owens, for walking, biking and horseback riding. Roaming about the head of administration and interpretive programs, said “we park are nature do traditional cowboy music and poetry lovers willing to to help people understand our cowboy give out tips and heritage around here.” diverse wildlife Working for the park for 14 years, to give you that Owens said he often has new ideas for backwoods feel. educational programs. “What I like to Complex Mando is come up with ideas of what we ager and State need to convey to the people in a fun, Park Officer Jody entertaining way,” he said. Currently on Lee, a park ranger the list Owens has compiled are GPS for seven years, tours for visitors, a snake interpretive said that some program and pod tours for the trailway. things are changOwens said some of the projects on the ing this year. “This Park employees of Lake Mineral Wells State Park (from list are seven years old and they just year we’re focusing left): Josie Thurmon, Assistant Superintendent David Ow“haven’t gotten around to them yet.” more on children Owens laughed, “So I can’t really tell ens and Complex Manager/State Park Officer Jody Lee
32 | Nature
you what’s coming next! I don’t know!” The newest event is the Native American Tepee on the Prairies program. Michelle Brown, a sociology major from Texas State University, chose to intern at the park and was tasked with implementing the program. “So it helped “This year we’re her and helped us at the focusing more on same time, and we put children because that together,” Owens said. the world is The program teaches kids becoming more about the Plains Indian urbanized” culture in a hands-on envi~ Jody Lee ronment by actually giving them the opportunity to help build a tepee. Owens does on-site events with local schools and general public but also goes off-site to teach kids about different cultures and nature. The park has a 20-mile trail that goes right by Travis Elementary School in Mineral Wells. After receiving grants to purchase school bicycles, Owens said, “Every spring, we do a bicycle wildflower ride so the kids can come out on the bikes.” Owens does have help with nearly every program. “We have camp hosts, which are people who live in RVs at one of the campsites and they do about 20 hours a week of work for us,” he said. Even people specialized in certain areas come to the park to volunteer. “I have a professor from Tarrant County College that does astronomy and he does a binocular astronomy program for us,” Owens said. Most events are open for anyone to attend; however, there are some that require reservations. The reason being, Owens said, is that “Some programs we do, we have to limit
the amount of people we have. We have some specialized things that we do where we can only handle so many people at a time, like walks and hikes.” Most programs are open to whoever shows up and wants to attend. “We have a really nice amphitheater and most of the events take place there,” Owens said. Owens added that all of the events are free once you pay general admission to enter the park. Admission is $7 per
A breathtaking view of Lake Mineral Wells can be seen from the rock climbing entrance, Penitentiary Hollow. person from open to close and an annual pass is $70, which is good for the whole family or anyone in a car. A calendar of events is posted on the Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway website, www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/lake-mineral-wells, along with times and whether a reservation is required for the event.
Lake Mineral Wells State Park’s 3,200 acres landscape is very diverse, which allows for a wide range of activities.
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 33
Photo courtesy of Clifton Chamber of Commerce shows the night view of the Meyer Observatory.
Star-struck in Clifton Story by Keauno Perez Photo By Jim Radcliff
Have you been looking for the right location to view the night sky of shooting stars, meteor showers and even UFOs? Perhaps not UFOs, but if stargazing is an interest, a visit to Clifton might be a good choice for your next trip. Clifton Meyer Observatory was built in the early 1990s and became recognized online and fully functional in 2005. Since then it has kept expanding. “The observatory was created and is currently run by the Central Texas Astronomical Society (CTAS),” said current club president of CTAS, Aubrey Brickhouse. The club, wanting to go further than backyard astronomy, established CTAS in 1993. After forming, the club was able to raise money to purchase a 24-inch telescope, and “…at the time to provide support for schools nearby,” Brickhouse said. The observatory supports college students from Baylor University to the University of Texas, CTAS members, as well as anybody interested in the study of astronomy. “When they [Meyer Observatory] just started building theirs, I visited
34 | Nature
to consider the same person who built their observatory, Peter Mack, to build our Tarleton one,” said Dr. Michael Hibbs, an astronomy, physics and engineering professor at Tarleton State University. Tarleton did select Mack to construct its observatory and Dean Chandler, who was in charge of CTAS
“They have the energy and commitment for helping in education and research.” ~ Dr. Michael Hibbs when Hibbs visited, helped in the design. Hibbs said the Clifton Meyer Observatory was built with handicap accessibility and that “they have the energy and commitment for helping in education and research. They do an excellent job of public outreach…they have an impressive design.” The observatory hosts monthly star parties for the public; dates depend on the lunar calendar. On special occasions, when meteor showers are
visible, the observatory invites guests. The observatory participates in projects as well, one being the “whole earth” project. In this project, observatories internationally, such as the one at Delaware University, and countries including Australia and Poland, all study the same white dwarfs—stars in their last cycle of life—in season. “The study runs 10 days; we might not be able to see something but another group might see something,” Brickhouse said. All data at the end is gathered and analyzed. The public can register on the CTAS website to become a member. Membership dues are required and privileges include invitations to member-only star parties and events, as well as a newsletter subscription. “Members vary from retirees interested in astronomy to current college students,” Brickhouse said. “Most people aren’t used to seeing a night sky of stars.” The party dates and times can be found on the CTAS website at www. centexastronomy.org. If called, the observatory can take special requests for groups and organizations.
Check it out Volume 3, Issue 1 - Spring/Summer 2014
Cross Timbers Trails The legend lives on Hico, Texas www.billythekidmuseum.com
Artist finds spiritual connection in creative journey Granbury, Texas www.yourprivatecollection.com
Comanche county relives deadly chain reaction
Never judge a bookstore by its cover
Comanche, Texas Comanche Historical Museum (325) 280-9083
Stephenville, Texas www.belovedbookstore.com
Justice is served
Zebras and rhinos and cheetahs, oh my!
Eastland, Texas www.eastlandfoundation.com
Washing down the past with new flavors Dublin, Texas www.dublinbottlingworks.com
Rocking back from the ashes
Glen Rose, Texas www.fossilrim.org
Ghost towns echo stories of the past Thurber, Chalk Mountain, Comyn, Sipe Springs and Desdemona, Texas
Lipan, Texas www.txhcountry.com
The wonderful world of Whitney
Norwegian history lives
Whitney, Texas www.lakewhitneychamber.com
Clifton, Texas www.visitclifton.org
Healing through horses
Boot scootin’ for 20 years Stephenville, Texas www.citylimitstexas.com
Jones focuses his lens on war and history 28
Stephenville, Texas www.ctfac.com
Stephenville, Texas www.tarleton.edu/TREAT
Lone Star arena gallops ahead Stephenville, Texas www.lonestararena.com
‘Life is better outside’ Mineral Wells, Texas www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/lake-mineral-wells
Star struck in Clifton Clifton, Texas www.centexastronomy.org
CrossTimbersTrails.com | 35
This is your newest guide to the eight counties of the Cross Timbers area.