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.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Students Get Spooky for Fulton Mansion

By Cassie Dieterich, Fulton Mansion Educator

Fulton Mansion State Historic Site has announced its 2011 Spooky Stories Contest winners. Congratulations to Sapphire Rodriguez, middle school winner, and Juliet Jones, elementary school winner. The top two prize-winning stories along with eight semi-finalists’ stories will be published in the Fulton Mansion’s third annual Spooky Story booklet. The book is available for purchase year-round in the Fulton Mansion gift shop.

Read an excerpt of Sapphire Rodriquez’s story below. Find the complete story, along with Juliet Jones’ “The Ghost of the Fulton Mansion,” on Fulton Mansion’s Facebook Page.

Artwork by Larry Zink

The Haunted Bite
by Sapphire E. Rodriguez, Cunningham Middle School

It was one of those nights again. The light kept flickering off and on, the wind had a bitter holler and all I could do was take small steps up the stairs—stairs that so many had walked on and were never seen again.

“Why bother with this old house?” you may say. Trust me. It is something worth talking about. Over three thousand people have tried to solve the mystery of this abandoned house for over a hundred years, but none ever succeeded. They would go in on nights like this and never see the light of day again. I procrastinated before going down the hall of the house where all the bedrooms were. Whoever last lived in this house was a total mess. They also had left the windows open, which caused the wind to seep into the house, giving me an eerie feeling.

PAT! PAT! PAT!

What was that!? Slowly, long, white footprints started appearing. They kept going down the long narrow hallway until they stopped directly at a door. The door led to the highest window in the house and it was blocked with many thorns and overgrown vines.

“Deep breath—just take a deep breath,” I said to myself. I was there to find out the mystery of this old abandoned mansion, and I would come out with an answer.
Continue reading the full story.

Fulton Mansion is located in the resort area of Rockport-Fulton, 30 miles north of Corpus Christi. The site is part of the Tropical Trail Region.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Before & After: Conserving Fort Griffin's Trunk

By Laura DeNormandie-Bass, chief curator for the THC Historic Sites

A traveling trunk from Fort Griffin State Historic Site was recently conserved at Texas A&M University’s Conservation Research Laboratory in College Station. The trunk was treated for metals deterioration, wood preservation, and paper conservation utilizing Japanese rice paper and a cellulose-based adhesive.

This particular travel/steamer trunk is composed of a tinned steel shell with wood slats and small wheels embedded on the bottom. The trunk appears to have belonged to “Caleb B. Cupp” of Colorado, TX, and the lock is stamped “PAT’D Mar. 69 & Apr. 77.” The inside of the trunk was papered at least twice, the first time with a pale pink, heavily water-stained paper and the second time with a white/neutral paper with dark stippling.

View photos of the trunk before and after conservation below:

Before conservation

After conservation

Before conservation

After conservation
 Before conservation

After conservation

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

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Relive the Battle of Sabine Pass

Visitors to Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site can now visually experience the military action of September 1863, when members of the Davis Guard—led by Lt. Richard “Dick” Dowling—held off a Union attack at Sabine Pass, a key port for Confederate shipments of supplies.  A new battle-scene viewer, just one of many recent improvements at the site, gives visitors a look at how events emerged as Dowling and his 46 men defeated the Union ships’ invasion.


New outdoor educational exhibits were also recently completed at the site, including text panels with maps detailing the important Civil War battle and the site’s continued role in coastal defense through the mid-20th century. New signs throughout the 58-acre site provide information on the important role Sabine Pass played in Texas history.


A highlight of the new outdoor exhibits is a scale model of the Civil War-era fort and battle, showing the positions of Confederate defenders and the Federal gunboats that unsuccessfully tried to sail up the pass. A viewing scope assists in sighting the historic Sabine Pass lighthouse that stands on the Louisiana shore. The new exhibits replace an installation destroyed by Hurricane Ike in 2008.


Other improvements to the site include the installation of new flag poles, a gate at the site entrance, and directional signs.


Come explore these new features at Sabine Pass Battleground State Historic Site, located 1.5 miles south of the town of Sabine Pass on Dick Dowling Rd. and 15 miles south of Port Arthur. The site is part of the Texas Forest Trail Region.