For "Travel Tuesday", let's visit Lake Texana, in the Texas Gulf Coast region of TX.
"Home to some of the best beaches in America, the Texas Gulf Coast region draws millions of visitors to this Texas playground. Stretching some 350 miles from South Padre Island & the Rio Grande Valley, all the way to Beaumont & the Louisiana border, this region is renowned for its wildlife & natural beauty, as well as the home of America's space program. Discover the Beaches of the Texas Gulf Coast Region."
Lake Texana State Park, Texas
"Halfway between Houston and Corpus Christi, Lake Texana State Park is a great spot for swimming, boating, fishing and wildlife viewing - including deer and alligators. The park features a Nature Center and offers interpretive programs throughout the year. For more information, visit www.LifesBetterOutside.org.
"The majority of the park consists of mixed oak and pecan woodlands. White-tailed deer,squirrels, rabbits, nine-banded Armadillos, and raccoons are numerous. There are occasional bobcat and wild turkey sightings. American alligators are also found in the park.
Lake Texana contains many native and exotic species of aquatic vegetation. Large stands of water hyacinth are present throughout the reservoir. Moderate densities of giant salvinia, hydrilla, coontail, spikerush, cattail, pondweed, and bulrush are also present.
Lake Texana contains vast floating beds of water hyacinth which provide marginal habitat for most sportfish species. Isolated beds of hydrilla, coontail, and other submerged aquatic vegetation provide the best habitat for largemouth bass. Most of the reservoir contains submerged timber and numerous stumps, ideal structure for catfish species. In periods of high water, flooded terrestrial vegetation provides excellent habitat for all game fish species. The Navidad River channel and the adjacent shallow area called the "jungle" is a favorite bass fishing area, water level permitting.
Hikers, birdwatchers and other nature buffs should explore the 1.3-mile Lake Texana Nature Trail that traverses creek bottomlands, providing up-close views of the park’s fauna and flora, as well as wooden butterfly homes erected to protect the winged beauties from predators. Wooden footbridges spanning a creek add a scenic touch to the trail and afford excellent vantage points for spotting critters that call the waters home.
A growing number of birders are finding their way to Lake Texana, too, because of the impressive number of bird species spotted in the park. More than 220 species of avifauna have been documented to date, drawn by the overlap of coastal prairie, hardwood bottomland and riparian habitats. Migrating songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds and scavengers like the Mexican buzzard (cara cara) are frequently seen at the park."
Lake Texana State Park Drive Through.
Speaking of Texas: Texana
A popular wedding site today, the 150-year-old former Texana Presbyterian Church stands near its original location. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)
"It’s a safe bet that few of the boaters and water-skiers who frequent Lake Texana, near Edna, realize that less than 75 feet below the surface of this placid body of water lies the site of a once-bustling river port. In the mid-1800s, as many as 20 vessels a week docked here.
Established in 1832 on the Navidad River by Dr. Francis F. Wells, one of Stephen F. Austin’s Old Three Hundred colonists, and Wells’ sister-in-law, Pamelia McNutt Porter, the town was originally named Santa Anna after Antonio López de Santa Anna. However, the Mexican soldier and politician’s popularity soon waned and residents changed the name to Texana.
During the Texas Revolution, the town served both as a port of entry for volunteers and as a training camp. When the war ended and the Republic was organized into counties, Texana became the seat of Jackson County. “The Navidad was a navigable river then, and boats were able to dock and turn around at Texana,” says Frank Condron, president of the Jackson County Historical Commission.
In mid-1836, New York capitalists Augustus and John Allen, in search of a site for an inland deep-water port, approached Wells about buying the land on which Texana was located.
“After making their survey of the entire gulf coast they decided in favor of Texana, it being the farthest inland with no obstruction,” writes I.T. Taylor in his 1936 book, The Cavalcade of Jackson County. When the Allen brothers offered Wells a substantial sum, he set a price twice that amount. Legend says his response so angered the brothers that one of them declared, “Never will this town amount to anything. I curse it. You … will live to see rabbits and other animals inhabiting its streets.” The Allens then bought land on Buffalo Bayou and established their dream city of Houston there instead.
Nevertheless, Texana continued to grow. By 1840, it had regular steamboat service, and in 1858, residents erected a courthouse. In 1880, it boasted regular mail and stage routes, a flourishing business area, and a weekly newspaper.
The next year, agents of the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway proposed routing the railroad through Texana in exchange for $30,000. When town leaders balked, the railroad moved seven miles north, by-passing the town. Many Texana residents followed and established a new community called Edna. It soon became the county seat, and by 1884, Texana had become ghost town. It seemed as if the Allen brothers’ curse had been fulfilled. Some might say the final blow fell in 1979, when Palmetto Bend Dam was built on the Navidad River less than a mile below the old town site, forming Lake Texana and flooding the area.
Today, the reservoir is at the heart of Lake Texana State Park. Because Texana’s namesake park attracts some 88,000 visitors a year, perhaps the Allen brother’s curse was dispelled after all.
Traces of Old Texana
Lake Texana State Park, east of Edna, offers camping, hiking, fishing and other watersports. (Photo by J. Griffis Smith)
While the town of Texana no longer exists, you can find traces of it at several sites in and around Edna (at US 59 and TX 111). Lake Texana State Park (7 miles -east, on TX 111) also features occasional programs on the pioneer town. Call 361/782-5718; www.tpwd.state.tx.us.
The Brackenridge Recreation Complex (across TX 111 from the state park), once the site of the Brackenridge Plantation, displays early photographs of the area and offers tours of the restored Historic Texana Church, which was built in 1859, moved to Edna in 1884, and finally moved here, a few miles north of its original location, in 2001. The quaint Greek Revival structure is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Owned by the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority (LNRA), the park also includes the Brackenridge family cemetery. Call 361/782-5456; www.brackenridgepark.com.
Two other sites display Texana artifacts and photographs: LNRA headquarters (at FM 3131 and FM 1822; 361/782-5229; www.lnra.org), and Texana Museum (403 N. Wells St.; 361/782-7146; www.jacksoncountytx.com), which offers exhibits on local history.
A number of buildings were moved from Texana to Edna in the late 1800s. Only two historic homes remain: the 1866 Bronaugh-Hasdorff home, at 203 E. Brackenridge St., and the 1876 George F. Horton home, at 404 Hanover St." By Nola McKey
On This Day:
Kit Carson born in Kentucky, Dec 24, 1809:
"Christopher Houston "Kit" Carson, one of the most celebrated heroes of the American West, is born in Richmond, Kentucky.
Shortly after Carson was born, his family moved west to Howard County, Missouri, an ideal spot for a future frontiersman to learn his trade. By the early 1820s, nearby Franklin, Missouri, had become the starting point for the newly opened Santa Fe Trail. As an apprentice to a Franklin saddle maker, Carson spent three years watching the covered wagons head westward for Santa Fe. Finally, the yearning to follow overwhelmed young Carson, and he ran away from home to join a trading caravan.
Intelligent and resourceful, Carson made a new life for himself once he reached Santa Fe. He learned enough Spanish to serve as a translator, and soaked up information about frontier knowledge and skills from the many mountain men who came to town. When Carson was 22 years old, he met the famous Irish mountain man Thomas Fitzpatrick, who offered to take Carson on a trapping expedition in the northern Rockies. Carson jumped at the chance, and soon became a skilled trapper and a cunning tracker. In January 1833, when a band of Crow Indians stole his party's horses, Carson trailed the Indians for 40 miles and his party was able to recover the stolen steeds.
Possessed of an uncanny ability to remember geography and topography, the illiterate Carson gained international fame after he served as a guide for John C. Fremont's 1842 western mapping expedition along the Oregon Trail. Fremont was so impressed with Carson's frontier and guiding skills that he rehired him to guide his 1843 exploration of the Great Salt Lake and the Sierra Nevada. When Fremont published his reports on the two expeditions, he wrote glowingly of the young scout, and Carson had his first taste of national fame.
After serving with Fremont in the Mexican War, Carson gained even greater renown as an Indian fighter in New Mexico, and the authors of popular dime novels began featuring him in their western tales. Literally a legend in his own time, Carson had the bizarre experience of colliding with his own mythic self. Late in 1849, Carson led the pursuit of a band of Jicarilla Apache who had kidnapped Mrs. J.M. White and her child from an emigrant caravan. Carson and a company of Taos soldiers tracked down and defeated the Apache, but they were too late to save Mrs. White, who was found with an arrow through her heart. Carson discovered a dime novel lying near White's body-the novel featured Carson as the hero of a story where he single-handedly fought off eight Indians.
Although he spent much of his life fighting Indians, Carson apparently had great sympathy and respect for them--in 1867 he became the Superintendent of Indian Affairs for Colorado Territory. Despite his failing health, Carson made a strenuous trip to Washington with delegates from the Ute tribe to argue on the Indians' behalf in treaty negotiations. Shortly after he returned to his home in Boggsville, Colorado, he died at the age of 58, but his legend continues to grow, thanks to countless novels and movies celebrating his life and adventures."
Jay wanted to work, so Misty and I got in the van to get him, but it wouldn't start. A door wasn't closed all the way, and the inside lights ran down the battery overnight. The Puddle Jumper is still being serviced down the street at Jim's, the mechanic, who is down with a bronchial infection. The new muffler has arrived, but he is too sick to install it.
Misty was very upset that she wasn't going for her 'walkies' down at Jay's, and took her time taking me for a walk around the front yard. Jay walked up here, as his ATV battery was dead, too. Must be this cold weather!
As I don't have the clear vinyl up on the screen porch this winter, the aloe plants would get too cold in there when it freezes. So they are all in the temporary greenhouse that we made with some old patio doors.
Rather than take the two wire shelf units off the screen porch, as I didn't really have anywhere else to keep them, we went up to my attic and brought down some pieces of very thin plywood and paneling. We cut pieces to fit the eight shelves, so now the foster cats could go out there without breaking their legs on the empty shelves. Jay always wants to cut up new full sheets, and was amazed at what we made with the old scrap paneling that I had kept to re-use.
These are two weird cats, they didn't seem to like their first outing on the screen porch at all. They did jump up on the shelves though, so I was glad that we had added the paneling. I had a cat that broke her leg jumping on something like that, years ago, so I am very cautious now.
After a boost with the battery charger, the van was ready to take Jay home when we were through for the day.