Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pittsburg,TX. Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Museum. Ezekiel Airship. Mayflower. Slavery Abolished. Mesa Verde.


For “Travel Tuesday”, Let’s go to Pittsburg, TX in the Piney Woods region.

Texas Piney Woods is one of the seven regions in TX.

Experience the warmth and Southern hospitality of the Texas Piney Woods Region. This beautiful forest land offers visitors a glimpse of the history of the Republic of Texas and early statehood times. The Texas Piney Woods offers some of the best fishing, down home cooking, championship golf and family activities in the Lone Star State. Discover the Southern Hospitality of the Texas Piney Woods Region.”


Welcome to Pittsburg, Texas!

“Located in the piney and hardwood forests of Northeast Texas, Pittsburg is a great place to live, work, start a new business, or for a weekend getaway vacation. If you love the outdoors, Pittsburg is close to two state parks and five large lakes with an abundance of water sports - boating, fishing and skiing. Or if you prefer historic buildings and homes, antique shopping, and museums, Pittsburg has these things and more.

Pittsburg takes you back to slower paced, gentler times when everyone was friendly and helpful.

The Prayer Tower

Designated as an historic Main Street City in 1986, Pittsburg's charm is evident in its lovely shops and a prayer tower with Paccard bells from France that chime the hour with soft melodies that waft through town. The prayer tower was dedicated to the city April 1992. Shop the many stores featuring antiques, clothing, shoes, gifts, crafts, and a 1950's style soda fountain or try our famous Pittsburg hot links.

Pittsburg has many excellent restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and don't miss our famous peaches, blueberries, and strawberries in the spring. Home of two award winning museums, one featuring railroads and the Ezekiel Airship and one farmstead museum which takes you back to the days of your grandparents.

Pittsburg is the county seat of Camp County, is at the junctions of U.S. Highway 271 and State Highway 11 and of the Louisiana and Arkansas and the St. Louis Southwestern railways, sixty miles southwest of Texarkana in the central portion of the county. It is the largest and the oldest town in the county. There are six major lakes within eighteen miles of Pittsburg that are reputed to be among the best bass-fishing lakes in Texas. Caddo and Cherokee Indians resided in the area during the early 1800s, but they had for the most part abandoned the area before settlers began arriving from Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama in the late 1830s.

Pittsburg, Texas Downtown 1911

In 1897 a privately owned electric generator was constructed in Pittsburg that provided sixteen kilowatts of electricity, enough for lights only. In 1899 a franchise was granted to Southwest Telegraph and Telephone Company to build a telephone system. By 1925 the city had also constructed a municipally owned water and sewer system.

By 1900 it had a library. In 1899 residents of Pittsburg had secured a promise of $5,000 from Andrew Carnegie, provided that the city fund a building and agree to maintain the library. The city council matched the $5,000 grant, and a Carnegie Library was constructed. It is reputed to have been the first of the Carnegie libraries in Texas. The library building, which also housed the city hall and a community auditorium, burned in December 1939. A new town library was not constructed until the 1970s.”


Lakes Near Pittsburg

Lake O' the Pines, TX

Lake Bob Sandlin State Park

Bob Sandlin Lake, and Lake O' The Pines.

Other area lakes include Welsh, Cypress Springs and Monticello. Trophy bass of 13 and 14 pounds are not unusual.


Giant Bo Pilgrim Head.

“Mesmerizing immense bust pays tribute to a devout Texas chicken baron Bo Pilgrim, who employed this town with his poultry business.

Pittsburg, Texas: Giant Bo

Pilgrim’s Pride is moving. Pilgrim’s Head is not.  That’s the news from Pittsburg, Texas, where Pilgrim’s Pride (the chicken company) is packing its corporate headquarters and moving it to Colorado.  Fortunately for glaze-eyed devotees, the big giant head of Bo Pilgrim isn’t moving anywhere.

Pilgrim’s Pride went bankrupt in 2009, blaming it in part on the soaring cost of chicken feed, too many chickens, and not enough chicken-eaters. In desperation, the company sold itself to beef and pork giant Swift & Company. Part of the deal was that Pilgrim’s Pride would move its chicken brain trust from their home in Pittsburg in east Texas to Swift’s headquarters in Greeley, Colorado.”


Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Museum

“Housed in the old Cotton Belt Railroad Depot, the museum exhibits historic artifacts from the time of the town’s founding in 1854 along with antique farm equipment and other memorabilia.

Located at the Railroad Museum at the old Cotton Belt Depot in Pittsburg,

Railroad Museum in Pittsburg Tx








819 at Pittsburg Texas

PITTSBURG, TEXAS DEPOT. This 1901 Victorian design depot was built by the









Also at the museum:

Full-size Replica Ezekiel Airship.

“A handful of obscure, motorized airplanes claim to have been flown before the Wright brothers did so in 1903. But none has the civic support, or the biblical pedigree, of the one in Pittsburg, Texas, where a life-size replica hangs in an annex of the Depot Museum.

The Rev. Burrell Cannon, a local Baptist minister, read in the Book of Ezekiel of "living creatures" rising from the earth and a "wheel within a wheel." He believed that these Bible passages contained the secret to powered flight.

Ezekiel Air Ship stock certificate.

Cannon formed The Ezekiel Air Ship Mfg Co., sold $20,000 in stock to his neighbors, and supervised the construction of his contraption in a local iron foundry.

It had large, fabric-covered wings and was powered by a small engine that turned four sets of vertical paddles mounted on wheels within wheels. It would fly the same way that a side wheel paddleboat churns its way through water -- except that paddles don't work that way in air, and Ezekiel mentioned nothing about wings or an engine. So how could it be biblical, and how could it possibly fly?

Nevertheless, in the autumn of 1902 -- so the story goes -- one of the workers in the foundry decided to take the airship out for a test run. He got it maybe 15 feet in the air, and covered about 50 yards. But there were no newspaper reports of the flight, no photographs, no eyewitness accounts.

Ezekiel Airship replica pilot.

Vernon Holcomb, at the Depot Museum, told us that he knew of "five documented second-hand accounts," a standard of proof that would only pass muster with the most desperate pseudo-investigative shows on cable.

And yet, if true, the Rev. Cannon's airship would have beaten the Wright Brothers' craft by over a year.

For some unexplained reason the airship was never flown again. Instead, the reverend, seeking funds, put it on a railroad flatcar to ship it to the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. It only got as far as Texarkana, and then was destroyed by a storm.

Ezekiel Airship painting.

Thin as the evidence may be for Rev. Cannon's success, it was good enough for Pittsburg. In 1987 the local Optimist's Club built a full-scale replica of what is now called "The Ezekiel Airship," based on one surviving photo -- "So clear that you can see the bolts," according to Vernon -- and displayed it in a local restaurant.

In 2001 Pittsburg residents built a custom annex to the town's Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Depot and Museum, hung the replica from the rafters, and hired a firm from Houston to design an exhibit around it. The result is surprisingly impressive and informative. The Optimists did an excellent job -- their replica looks as if it could hang in the Smithsonian -- although they concede that it is too heavy to fly. According to Vernon, the reverend somehow was able to build the same airship at ¼ the weight.

Ezekiel Airship souvenirs.

How he did so is yet another mystery. No parts survive, nor any patent drawings or plans. "He didn't want anyone to see what he was doing," Vernon explained.

The annex includes an exhibit of the Rev. Cannon's Bible, open to the first chapter of Ezekiel. In the gift shop there are Ezekiel Airship post cards and books, a half-hour documentary on DVD, plus miniature gold Ezekiel Airship Christmas tree ornaments.

The state of Texas, never shy about boasting, has erected an official historical plaque two blocks south of the museum. It marks the field where the airship supposedly flew, either on biblical smarts or just a lot of Texas hot air.”


On this day:

Mayflower docks at Plymouth Harbor, Dec 18, 1620:

“On December 18, 1620, the British ship Mayflower docked at modern-day Plymouth, Massachusetts, and its passengers prepared to begin their new settlement, Plymouth Colony.

The famous Mayflower story began in 1606, when a group of reform-minded Puritans in Nottinghamshire, England, founded their own church, separate from the state-sanctioned Church of England. Accused of treason, they were forced to leave the country and settle in the more tolerant Netherlands. After 12 years of struggling to adapt and make a decent living, the group sought financial backing from some London merchants to set up a colony in America. On September 6, 1620, 102 passengers–dubbed Pilgrims by William Bradford, a passenger who would become the first governor of Plymouth Colony–crowded on the Mayflower to begin the long, hard journey to a new life in the New World.

On NoveimagesCAU5QNAImber 11, 1620, the Mayflower anchored at what is now Provincetown Harbor, Cape Cod. Before going ashore, 41 male passengers–heads of families, single men and three male servants–signed the famous Mayflower Compact, agreeing to submit to a government chosen by common consent and to obey all laws made for the good of the colony. Over the next month, several small scouting groups were sent ashore to collect firewood and scout out a good place to build a settlement. Around December 10, one of these groups found a harbor they liked on the western side of Cape Cod Bay. They returned to the Mayflower to tell the other passengers, but bad weather prevented them from docking until December 18.

After exploring the region, the settlers chose a cleared area previously occupied by members of a local Native American tribe, the Wampanoag. The tribe had abandoned the village several years earlier, after an outbreak of European disease. That winter of 1620-1621 was brutal, as the Pilgrims struggled to build their settlement, find food and ward off sickness. By spring, 50 of the original 102 Mayflower passengers were dead. The remaining settlers made contact with returning members of the Wampanoag tribe and in March they signed a peace treaty with a tribal chief, Massasoit. Aided by the Wampanoag, especially the English-speaking Squanto, the Pilgrims were able to plant crops–especially corn and beans–that were vital to their survival. The Mayflower and its crew left Plymouth to return to England on April 5, 1621.

Over the next several decades, more and more settlers made the trek across the Atlantic to Plymouth, which gradually grew into a prosperous shipbuilding and fishing center. In 1691, Plymouth was incorporated into the new Massachusetts Bay Association, ending its history as an independent colony.”


House passes the 13th Amendment, Jan 31, 1865:

“On this day in 1865, the U.S. House of Representatives passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in America. The amendment read, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude...shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."”


Wetherill and Mason discover Mesa Verde, Dec 18, 1888:

“While searching for stray cattle in the isolated canyons of southwest Colorado, Richard Wetherill and his brother-in-law stumble upon the magnificent ancient Indians ruins of Mesa Verde.

The Wetherill family started ranching in the rugged southwest lands of Colorado in 1881, and Richard and his brothers often explored the canyons and mesas for Indian ruins. Once, while looking up the mouth of Cliff Canyon, Wetherill was approached by a Ute Indian named Acowitz who reportedly told him, "Deep in that canyon and near its head are many houses of the old people-the Ancient Ones. One of those houses, high, high in the rocks, is bigger than all the others. Utes never go there, it is a sacred place." Wetherill was intrigued, but his ranching duties kept him from exploring the canyon further.

imagesCAD6S9OD On December 18, 1888, Wetherill and his brother-in-law, Charles Mason, were searching for stray cattle on top of a broad mesa when a heavy snow began to fall. Fearing they might ride over a cliff in the blinding snow, they dismounted and were moving ahead on foot when they came to an overlook point. From across the canyon they saw a snow-blurred image of a magnificent stone city three stories high and perched high up a cliff wall under a massive rock overhang. Fascinated, Wetherill and Mason abandoned their search for the stray cattle and, after considerable effort, managed to climb up and explore the ruins for several hours.

Wetherill and Mason had stumbled across the "houses, high, high in the rocks" that Acowitz had told them about. The ruins were once the home of the Anasazi (the Indian term for "ancient ones") people. Subsequent archaeological studies showed that the Cliff Palace, as it became known, was built during the 13th century, when the Anasazi moved from the top of the mesas onto ledges and caves along the canyon walls, presumably to better defend themselves against invaders. Eventually a prolonged drought that started around 1275 forced the Anasazi to abandon their magnificent cliff dwellings.

In the years following the discovery, Wetherill collected thousands of artifacts from the Cliff Palace and other area ruins. Most of Wetherill's artifacts ended up in museums, where they could be studied by professional archaeologists and viewed by the public. The same cannot be said of the many other priceless artifacts that were stolen by visitors over the years. In order to protect the site from further looting and degradation, the Congress created Mesa Verde National Park in 1906.”



Jay had some time to help me, so Misty and I had our walk-about down there, when we went to get him.

Pegola-removal-Dec-2012. We started on the demolition of my RVport, which is on the property line between my house and my guest house, so that I can sell this house. 

Jay took down the lattice under my pergola, which is the front part of the RVport, and I took the fake flowers off each section.  There were two big bins of flowers stapled to the lattice under the pergola, so my hands were pretty tired after prying all the cable staples off the flowers and branches.  The best flowers will be made into new wreaths for the four grave markers here.  (Honky; my beloved white cat.  L’ilbit; my late Johnnie’s tiny black poodle.  Levi: my wonderful silver poodle, and then the last tragedy, my darling 18 year old Bobbiecat.)   When Misty’s time comes, she won’t be there, as she is to be cremated.

Then Jay took the sheets of clear fiberglass roofing off the rafters, and handed them to me, so I could put them away, as they can be re-used.   Might even make Ray a greenhouse out of them.

Prissy-Dec.2012 It was outstanding T-shirt weather, so Prime and Prissy watched us from the screened porch. 

Here is the latest picture of Prissy.

Jay’s boss came to get him, so we couldn’t get the framework down yet, that will have to be done another day.

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