Friday, November 27, 2015

A Square Meal in Waxahachie

Gingerbread house
Since it was a lovely autumn day, we decided to take a leisurely drive down to Waxahachie. The town is not named after an ‘Indian tribe’, but may mean ‘river of buffalo dung’ or simply ‘buffalo’; it depends on who you talk to as to the meaning of this name.  Of the possible Native American language origins, the Alabama language, spoken by the Alabama-Coushatta people who had moved to eastern Texas in the 1850s seems the most likely point of origin. However, in the Alabama language, waakasi hachi means ‘calf's tail’. In any case, Waxahachie was founded as the seat of Ellis County in August, 1850. The land was donated given by Emory W. Rogers who had come to Texas in 1839. With the arrival of a rail line from Waxahachie Tap Railroad to Garrett, Texas, the population increased, making Waxahachie a viable community. This area was once home to thick groves of sycamores as well as one of the largest primary cotton markets in Texas. A textile mill using the lower grades of locally produced cotton, manufactured duck and other heavy materials. There were also two large cottonseed oil mills and a cotton compress. During the Civil War a powder mill was operated by the Confederate government in Waxahachie, but an explosion ended the enterprise in 1863. The city was also the site of Trinity University. This school was in operation for about 40 years, moving in 1942 to San Antonio.

Historic house
In the 1980s Hollywood discovered Waxahachie, making it a popular place for filming movies.  Tender Mercies, Places in the Heart, The Trip to Bountiful, 1918, On Valentine's Day, Prison Break, and Missionary Man were all filmed in and around Waxahachie. The TV series Walker, Texas Ranger was filmed in Waxahachie, occasionally. In 1988, scientists and researchers discovered Waxahachie, in somewhat the same manner as had the movie makers; the Superconducting Super Collider was set up in the area near Waxahachie. The SSC was to be the world's largest and most energetic particle accelerator. Seventeen shafts were drilled and about 15 miles of tunnel before the project was scrapped by Congress in 1993. A group of us from the university at which I worked went out to the site and held several workshops for science teachers that focused on how to teach this area of physics. I have always wondered what became of the infrastructure for this structure and if the land was sold back to the farmers.

Waxahachie has always been known for its elaborate Richardsonian Romanesque
courthouse. This gorgeous red stone edifice is one of Texas's older court houses. The town also has many examples of Victorian architecture and Gingerbread homes, several of which have been converted into bed and breakfasts. The city's annual Gingerbread Trail Festival features tours of many of the Gingerbread homes. There is also a historic drive that takes you through an historical cemetery with markers honoring soldiers who fought in the Civil War.

Four carrots
There are several places to eat near the square, but we chose the Dove’s Nest Restaurant (105 W Jefferson Street, Waxahachie, Texas 75165, 972-938-3683). This restaurant is what we generally think of as a ‘tea room’ situated in a building that houses several tiny shops with oodles of cute things including home decoration, children’s clothing, and delectable things to eat. Vince had the Chicken Apricot Salad Sandwich; he said it was excellent with just enough contrast between the savory chicken and the sweet apricots. Dave had the Dove’s Nest House Burger. He particularly liked the fact that the meat was crusty and the bread tasted homemade. They both thought the corn-mango relish was very tasty. I had the Avocado BLT; it was excellent, especially with the pop of habanero jelly. And we all loved the cracked pepper potato chips. Service was average, but the waitress was pleasant and made sure that we had iced tea to take away with us. For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.

Historic cemetery 
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