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.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Students from Near and Far Come to Learn About the Pacific War

By Rich Koone, Education Director at the National Museum of the Pacific War

As you might expect, May was a busy month for the Education Department at the National Museum of the Pacific War. We had more than 2,000 students and chaperones from 38 schools visit us throughout the month. Most of them were from the San Antonio and Austin area, but this month they are also coming from as far away as Corpus Christi, Midland, and Fort Worth. We even had a group from Chicago visit in April.

As the educator here at the museum, the best part of my job is interacting with the students while I am conducting the living history program. Kids really do say the strangest things! When I am going over naval ship terminology and ask the students what the bathroom on a ship is called, there is always one student who answers, “the poop deck.”

The National Museum of the Pacific War is a Texas Historical Commission property located in Fredericksburg and is supported, operated, and managed by the Admiral Nimitz Foundation. The site is part of the Texas Hill Country Trail Region.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Fort Griffin Celebrates Memorial Day and Renovated Campgrounds

By Eric Abercrombie, Fort Griffin staff

Fort Griffin State Historic Site kicked off summer with its first Annual Memorial Day Weekend Celebration, honoring U.S. military and celebrating the grand re-opening of Fort Griffin’s newly renovated campgrounds. As part of this celebration, all military and their families enjoyed free entrance to the site through the Blue Star Museums program, which continues through Labor Day (Sept. 5). A number of fun, family-friendly activities were also held throughout the weekend.

On Friday, the festivities kicked off with the start of a weekend-long catfish tournament. In the afternoon, visitors enjoyed a longhorn presentation and guided fort tour as well as a campfire tales program later that evening. Of course, because of the unseasonably hot, dry weather, the campfire tales ended up being just tales with no campfire. During the program, we shared stories of outlaws and heroes, cowboys and Indians, and other wild tales of Fort Griffin in the late 1800s. To top it off, we had two members of the Texas Gunslingers in attendance who volunteered to illustrate a Wild West shootout!

On Saturday, the day started with a guided nature hike along Mill Creek Trail, during which we encountered a 3-foot-long rattlesnake along the trail. This encounter was a great lesson in the need to keep a sharp eye out when hiking in the woods. After the hike, we played water balloon toss with the kids and adults in an attempt to help our visitors cool off in the triple-digit heat.

That afternoon we hosted a horseshoe tournament followed by the Stars and Skies of Texas Star Gazing Party. Kurt Oliver from Woodson and astronomers from Fort Worth were there to teach and share their equipment with all of our attendees. There were 40-50 people in attendance, and everyone had a great time looking through the telescopes and twirling their glow necklaces!

The weekend finished off with a final catfish judging Sunday morning and a kickball game that afternoon. We received great feedback from our visitors and look forward to putting on more events in the future.

Fort Griffin State Historic Site is located 15 miles north of Albany on U.S. Hwy 283, in the Texas Forts Trail Region.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Texas Authors Lecture Series Kicks Off at Varner-Hogg Plantation

By Angela Pfeiffer, Varner-Hogg Plantation Curator

Last month, Varner-Hogg Plantation State Historic Site was pleased to host a discussion in the site’s new indoor programming room with distinguished professor and author Dr. Virginia Bernhard and her book, Ima Hogg: the Governor’s Daughter. Dr. Bernhard was the first speaker in Varner-Hogg Plantation’s Texas Authors Lecture Series.

Dr. Bernhard described what inspired her to write Miss Ima’s biography, as well as the different research sources she used for the project. She also shared some new information on Miss Ima’s life and loves from documents recently released from the Hogg Family Archives. She is currently compiling these new findings into a book on the Hogg family letters. 

After answering questions from the audience, Dr. Bernhard signed several copies of her book and mingled with guests, staff, and Friends members, making for an entertaining and informational afternoon.

For information on upcoming lectures, please visit our events calendar. Varner-Hogg Plantation is located approximately 60 miles south of Houston and is part of the Texas Independence Trail Region.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Caddo Mounds Site Improvements

By Jennifer L. Price, Caddo Mounds site manager

At Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, a cleanup project of the natural spring bed is currently underway. This spring was a prime resource for Caddo Indians from A.D. 700–1400, pioneers traveling along the El Camino Real de los Tejas, and Civilian Conservation Corps operations; later, it was the source of the Texas Forest Service's Indian Mound Nursery irrigation system for soil hydration. Today, managed by the Texas Historical Commission's (THC) Caddo Mounds State Historic Site, plans are in motion to provide future hiking trails leading visitors to the spring and other nearby features for an enhanced experience.

Another improvement at the site is the replacement of all property fences bordering the north side of Highway 21 with cedar split rail fencing. The fence was previously a combination of split rail and barbed wire. This project began in September 2010 with an archeological survey of the fence post holes to prevent any disturbance to sensitive archeological areas at Caddo Mounds.

Finally, a project that also began in 2010 will enhance the future of Caddo Mounds, visitor experiences, and Texas history. On April 26, 2010, the THC purchased the former 304 acres of the Texas Forest Service Indian Mound Nursery from Texas A&M University. This property is now being examined through the use of a magnetometer to identify any significant cultural remains beneath the soil. The magnetometer is a device capable of recording features under the surface of the ground that may indicate where the ancient Caddo Indians built houses or used cooking hearths. The survey is being conducted by Archaeo-Geophysical Associates, LLC.

Caddo Mounds State Historic Site is located outside Alto, Texas, 26 miles west of Nacogdoches. The site is part of the lush Pineywoods landscape of the Texas Forest Trail Region.