For "Travel Tuesday":
Not too far from Big Bend, featured in last Tuesday's Travel Day, is Fort Davis:
"Today, twenty-four roofed buildings and over 100 ruins and foundations are part of Fort Davis National Historic Site. Five of the historic buildings have been refurnished to the 1880s, making it easy for visitors to envision themselves being at the fort at the height of its development."
"Park staff, along with the Friends of Fort Davis National Historic Site and local volunteers, are currently restoring and refurnishing portions of the 1876 Post Hospital. When completed the Post Hospital at Fort Davis will be the first such 19th Century structure built as a hospital in the National Park Service to be restored.
Fort Davis is one of the best surviving examples of an Indian Wars' frontier military post in the Southwest.
Medical treatment at Fort Davis represented state-of-the-art medicine of the 19th century. The soldiers at Fort Davis and other frontier posts probably received medical treatment as good as or better than what the average American received at the time.
Nightmares of what could have been. Although Fort Davis is one of the best preserved examples of a frontier military post in the American Southwest, there has always been one aspect of the fort that remained at risk – its view. Most of the landscape surrounding Fort Davis is protected, but a prominent 41-acre bluff overlooking the fort was for sale, generating concern that the pristine view would be disturbed. Luckily, a conservation buyer stepped in and purchased the property and is now working with the National Park Service to add the land to Fort Davis National Historic Site. In June 1891, as a result of the army’s efforts to consolidate its frontier garrisons, Fort Davis was ordered abandoned, having "outlived its usefulness." Seventy years later, in 1961, the fort was authorized as a national historic site, a unit of the National Park Service.
More about Fort Davis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Davis_National_Historic_Site
Fort Davis: Frontier Post
"A key post in the defense system of western Texas, Fort Davis played a major role in the history of the Southwest. From 1854 until 1891, troops stationed at the post protected emigrants, freighters, mail coaches, and travelers on the San Antonio-El Paso Road. Today, Fort Davis is considered one of the best remaining examples of a frontier military post in the American Southwest. It is a vivid reminder of the significant role played by the military in the settlement and development of the western frontier.
Named for Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, the fort was first garrisoned by Lieutenant Colonel Washington Seawell and six companies of the Eighth U.S. Infantry. The post was located in a box canyon near Limpia Creek on the eastern side of the Davis Mountains--where wood, water, and grass were plentiful. From 1854 to 1861 , troops of the Eighth Infantry spent much of their time in the field pursuing Comanches, Kiowas, and Apaches."
"Apache leader Victorio led a group of Mescaleros, Warm Springs, and Chiricahuas from an Apache Reservation in New Mexico in 1879. Pursued by soldiers from Fort Davis and other west Texas forts he fled into Mexico where he and many of his followers were killed by Mexican troops in October of 1880."
Davis Mountains State Park
"History: Davis Mountains State Park, 2708.9 acres in size, is located in Jeff Davis County, four miles northwest of Fort Davis, approximately halfway between Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Carlsbad Caverns, and Big Bend National Park. The original portion of the park was deeded to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department by a local family. Original improvements were accomplished by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1933; the park has been open to the public in since the late 1930s; formal campground facilities were added in 1967.
The Davis Mountains, the most extensive mountain range in Texas, were formed by volcanic activity during the Tertiary geologic period, which began around 65 million years ago. These mountains were named after Jefferson Davis, U.S. Secretary of War and later President of the Confederacy, who ordered the construction of the Fort Davis army post.
Most Indian bands passed through the Davis Mountains, although the Mescalero Apaches made seasonal camps. As west Texas settlements increased, raiding in Mexico and along the San Antonio-El Paso Trail became a way of life for Apaches, Kiowas, and Comanches. Few Americans had seen the Davis Mountains prior to 1846. After the war with Mexico, a wave of gold seekers, settlers, and traders came through the area and needed the protection of a military post - Fort Davis. Fort Davis was active from 1854 until 1891, except for certain periods during the Civil War. In 1961, the historic fort ruins were declared a National Historic Site, and a vast restoration/preservation program was initiated by the National Park Service. "
If you look a topographical map of the USA, the Davis Mountains are at the tail end of the Rocky Mountains.
"When the three large domes of the McDonald Observatory appear on a mountain ridge in the distance, you know Fort Davis can't be far away. The observatory's three largest instruments are the 362" Hobby-Eberly telescope on 6,600-foot Mount Fowlkes, and the 107" Harlan J. Smith and 82" Otto Struve telescopes located on 6,800-foot Mt. Locke. The observatory is located just 17 miles from Fort Davis on Texas Highway 118.
Operated by the University of Texas at Austin, the observatory has several large research telescopes and hosts astronomers from around the world. Self-guided tours are possible from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. Solar viewing sessions are conducted twice daily at 11:00 am and 2:00 p.m. Daily tours follow Solar Viewing Daily. A telescope equipped with a safe filter and camera provides dramatic views of our sun and its many features.
The observatory's evening Star Parties held on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays should not be missed. Beginning after sunset, the star party showcases interesting stars, planets, and other astronomical objects with live views through telescopes from 8 to 22 inches in size. A tour of the stars and constellations is presented by knowledgeable staffers, while equally interesting live presentations take place in the new Frank N. Bash Visitor Center's multimedia theater. The Star Party is a rare opportunity for the entire family to learn about the heavens from experts under one of the darkest skies in North America. Bring a jacket, since the mountain air cools quickly. The Observatory is closed only on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.
A gift shop in the Frank N. Bash Visitor Center offers astronomy related merchandise, and the StarDate Cafe offers delicious snacks or full meals."
For more information please call (432) 426-3640 or Toll Free 1-877-984-7827
or visit their website at http://McDonaldObservatory.org
Accurate information for opening hours, tours can be found at http://mcdonaldobservatory.org/visitors/programs/
On This Day:
Doniphan's Thousand takes El Paso, Dec 27, 1846:
"The rag-tag army of volunteers known as Doniphan's Thousand, led by Colonel Alexander W. Doniphan, wins a major victory in the war with Mexico with the occupation of El Paso.
Born in Kentucky in 1808, Doniphan moved to Missouri in 1830 to practice law. But the tall redheaded man was not satisfied with fighting only courtroom battles, and he volunteered as a brigadier general in the Missouri militia. When war between Mexico and the U.S. erupted in 1846, the men of the 1st Missouri Mounted Volunteers elected Doniphan their colonel, and marched south to join General Stephen Kearny's army in New Mexico.
Since they were not professional military men, Doniphan's troops cared little for the traditional spit-and-polish of the regular troops, and reportedly looked more like tramps than soldiers. Likewise, Doniphan was a casual officer who led more by example than by strict discipline. Nonetheless, Doniphan's Thousand proved to be a surprisingly effective force in the war with Mexico.
In December, Doniphan led 500 of his men and a large wagon train of supplies south to join General John E. Wool in his planned invasion of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Before he had a chance to meet up with Wool's larger force near the city of Chihuahua, Doniphan encountered an army of 1,200 Mexican soldiers about 30 miles north of El Paso, Texas. Although his opponents had twice the number of soldiers, Doniphan led his men to victory, and with the path to El Paso now largely undefended was able to occupy the city two days later.
When nearing the Mexican border, Doniphan learned that General Wool's forces had broken off their invasion of Chihuahua because the army's wheeled vehicles had proved unworkable in the desert landscape. But rather than turn back, Doniphan reassembled his army to its full force of about 1,000 men and was allowed to proceed with the invasion unassisted. Once again grossly outnumbered-the Mexican army was four times the size of Doniphan's-the Missouri troops were still able to quickly break through the defensive lines and occupy Chihuahua City. By mid-summer 1847, Doniphan's victorious army reached the Gulf Coast, where they were picked up by ships and taken to New Orleans for discharge. By then, the focus of the battle had shifted to General Winfield Scott's campaign to take Mexico City.
In September of that year, Scott's troops ended the war by successfully occupying Mexico City, and for the first time in U.S. history an American flag flew over a foreign capital. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, signed early in 1848, gave the U.S. the vast western territory stretching from Texas to the Pacific and north to Oregon."
Yesterday was "Boxing Day". In Britain, one's gift is called a Christmas Box after the old customs in these two sites. : http://britishfood.about.com/od/christmas/p/boxingday.htm
The prospective new 'parents' of Pebbles and Precious were starting from 'scratch', as they had got rid of all their old cat's things. I donated a litter box and their cedar board scratching post. Hopefully, the adopters will buy one or two of my pet carriers, as I will no longer need them, so I gave them a quick wash to spruce them up. The kittens knew something was going on, and scrunched down in their bed, trying to look invisible.
With the kittens in their carriers, cat food, toys, cedar board, litter box, and printed instructions (with medical records) packed, we set off early, in case the traffic was bad.
For a change, there were no wrecks on the wet freeway, so we were early. All the 'exchangers' and 'returners' must have already got to town, as it was packed. We shared a Dickey's BBQ brisket sandwich there in the same shopping center as Petco, while we waited. It was tender and delicious, but beware their hot BBQ sauce was even too spicy for Jay.
The adopters arrived right on time, and I showed them how I trim the nails on the kittens. Both kittens were very good, even though they were stressed. The adopters petted both kittens, and the wife held Precious. They commented on the wonderful condition of their coats.
After a while, Pebbles got in one of her hissing moods, and was put in her carrier. She is scared of everyone but me, but once she realizes where her food comes from, she will settle down, I hope.
The adopters were given the usual recommendations about keeping the new pets in a separate room for the first week. It makes them feel more secure. Giving them run of a whole house at first, confuses them, gives them places to hide, and should they get out of an outside door, they haven't yet got their bearings.
They bought the larger of my carriers, so I put Precious in there with Pebbles, and they went to their new home.
They must be so scared, they have only known this place and have thought of me as their mom for the last nine months since they first opened their eyes. But it will also be a new chapter for us, Misty, Bobbiecat, Prime and me. No more fosters.
Jay and I went to Angelic Thrift Shop, and bought a few things, then on to Kroger's, and bought more things.
When I came home, Prime, my remaining foster cat, was wondering where the kittens were. I know she, and I, will miss them for many days.