From western forts to Victorian mansions and pivotal battlegrounds, the Texas Historical Commission's 20 state historic sites exemplify a breadth of Texas history. Come explore the real stories at the real places.

Friday, March 27, 2009

It’s Branding Time at Fort Griffin

Spring is branding time for the new calves of the Official Texas Longhorn Herd at Fort Griffin. Branding the calves prevents cattle rustling (which is still a problem throughout Texas), allows staff to track pedigrees and designates the animals as the property of the state of Texas. This March, staff branded 18 yearlings, registering them as an official part of the herd. During the past year, these calves were born on site, weaned from their mother cows and rounded up for registration.

Experienced staff handles the branding in a safe and humane manner and the animal is not harmed in the process. Staff herd the calves into a holding chute and heat the branding irons in a small gas-fueled "fire box" until red hot. The branding iron is placed carefully on the calves’ hide and held level to the flank long enough until the mark is permanent. Cattle hides are extremely thick and the burn never reaches the point where the animal is in pain. The official state brand, a Texas star, is placed on the calves’ left rear flank and a three-digit registration number on its right rear.

After their initial surprise, the animals don’t take too much notice of the proceedings. Each calf is then vaccinated against various diseases. Information about the calf is recorded, and then it rejoins the group in the holding pen. With years of experience, the Fort Griffin staff handles the process quickly, efficiently and safely.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Stars are Bright at Fort McKavett

Many of us who live in bigger cities forget the beauty of a starry sky. Reclaim those memories and head to Fort McKavett where the sky is endless and the stars are bright. The site, Friends of Fort McKavett and the Johnson Space Center Astronomical Society are hosting a Spring Star Party event this Saturday. The day begins with an astronomy presentation at 4 p.m on Mars in the fort's historic school house. The star gazing kicks off at dusk. Amateur astronomers will be on hand with their telescopes to show you various galaxies, such as the Whirlpool Galaxy, the Great Orion Nebula, the Pleiades Star Cluster and other formations. And best of all? It's free! Check out the event flyer, grab your family and friends and enjoy the big skies of Texas.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Landmark Inn featured in Castroville Video

Castroville, a lovely Alsatian town located 20 minutes from San Antonio, was one of three Texas communities recently awarded the First Lady's Texas Treasure award. The award honors communities that have shown a high level of creativity and ingenuity in recognizing and preserving their authentic Texas sense of place. One of the many attractions in Castroville that makes the town so unique is the Landmark Inn State Historic Site, an eight-room historic bed-and-breakfast located in the heart of the town. Stay the night and enjoy all the community has to offer including quaint restaurants and shops, local sausage and a delicious Alsatian bakery. Check out the Landmark Inn and other Castroville sites in the Texas Treasure's award video clip.