Friday, July 29, 2016

Denver Doings

The Denver area, part of the Territory of Kansas, was settled by Cheyenne and Arapaho
Stream with waterfall in a meadow
Indians and a few Anglos until the late 1850s. However, in 1858 Green Russell and Sam Bates found a small placer deposit that produced about 20 troy ounces (620g) of gold, and the Pike's Peak Gold Rush was on; the population bloomed to about  100,000 gold seekers in just two years. The same year that Russell and Bates found their gold, Denver City was established through rather under-handed means. This rather lawless city prospered as a mining town for a few years, but once the gold played out the population dropped. Denver eventually became a supply hub for mining in the area, cementing its place in history. It was named the seat of Arapahoe County, then six years later the Territorial Capital. By 1881, Denver had become the permanent state capital, having survived the fire of 1863 that destroyed most of downtown, the flood a year later that devastated cattle and crops, and a final attack by swarms of grasshoppers that stripped away the remaining vegetation.

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Castle in the Hills

It wouldn’t be summer without my semi-annual trip to Colorado. Once again I spent a
Top L to R: Ice Falls,
Cynthia and Twister at Pikes Peak Lookout
Bottom L to R: Hummingbird at feeders,
Pink Shooting Stars
substantial amount of time at Sunkist Cabin staring at the beautiful mountains, and listening to the chattering creek and the songs of the myriad of birds that make this place home. You’d think that I’d seen and written about it all, but of course I haven’t and I doubt that I ever will. The summer scenery is wonderful, with the rich greens and the colorful wildflowers. Of course, America’s mountain, Pikes Peak, looks a bit different in the summer; there’s not as much snow and the red rock stands out in contrast to the evergreens that dot its lower slopes. Hiking is a bit easier, too, since we could actually see the trails rather than stomp through snow. On our visit to Ice Falls we got to play in the water and see some Shooting Stars; we miss both when the snow is deep on the ground.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Running around in Rendon

The community of Rendon is located on Farm to Market Road 1187 just about twelve miles
Pond on a farm in Rendon

southeast of downtown Fort Worth. The unincorporated town was named for Joaquin Rendon, the original land grant holder in the region. I can’t find any information about this man, and I’d like to know where he came from and what drew him to the area.  Originally known as Cross Roads, settlement began in the area with the arrival of the Hopper family. Evidently they farmed and raised cattle. That still occurs in this rural area, but on a much more limited basis. Where once there were cattle, there are now horses, donkeys, goats, llamas, and at one time commercially raised pigs and chickens. Until the late 1960s you could go down to the ‘chicken farms’ to get freshly slaughtered chickens or fresh eggs. Llama and horse ranches are also a latter addition to the Rendon area and smell a lot better than did the chickens and pigs. Back in the 1880s, the Norwood family also came to the area, helping to organize churches as well as bringing a general store and a post office. It was with the establishment of the post office that the name of the community was changed to Rendon. The Haddocks also arrived about this same time. By about 1895 Rendon boasted a flour mill, two gins, and a blacksmith, to serve a population of twenty-five. Norwood sold some acreage to the founders of the school and the cemetery about two years later. The Rendon School and the Rendon Cemetery were founded at that time. On the site of the original school house is a modern school that vacillates from housing alternative classes, to overflow elementary classes, to administrative offices; it’s now part of the Mansfield School District. By 1954 a volunteer fire department had been organized; the ‘new’ fire hall is on the site of the original. There are still fund raisers for this group that carry on the tradition of holding pancake breakfasts, and a Thanksgiving dinner; these activities pay for the fire and ambulance service that now takes care of more than 10,000 residents. At one time Near-Normal Traveler, Vince, was a member of the volunteer fire department as an EMT.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wandering in Waco

So off we went to Waco on one of the hottest days of the season - 108oF including the heat
McLennan County Courthouse
index. After all of the rains in Texas, the Brazos River was full and running swiftly. We thought about taking a dip to cool off, but decided that this wasn't the best idea. Waco  is the county seat of McLennan County, located along the river, halfway between Fort Worth and Austin. The courthouse was designed by James Riley Gordon, who also created the façade for the Ellis County Courthouse in Waxahachie and the Arizona State Capital building. The exterior of the McLennan County Courthouse is neoclassical, but the pilasters and columns are Corinthian. It also has three justice-themed statues:  Themis on top of the central dome with Justitia on one side and Lady Liberty on the other. All around are the square are typical government offices, but there really aren't any restaurants. So much for a ‘square meal’…

Friday, July 1, 2016

Saginaw, not Michigan

Saginaw Chamber sign
Sometimes running errands leads you to unusual places. There’s a small town near us that had the only birdfeeder that was acceptable for Dave to install in the backyard, so off we went to Saginaw, Texas. This little town is an inner suburb of Fort Worth with a several businesses and no small number of fast food joints.