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’…




Long before the building of the city, indigenous peoples lived along the Brazos River. For thousands of years the Wichita Native American tribe, known as the ‘Waco’, called this area
Top L to R: Suspension bridge, Longhorn face
Bottom L to R: Sage blooms, Cattle drive sculpture
home. In the mid-1800s, Thomas M. Duke discovered the tribe and reported to Stephen F. Austin that there was a cold spring surrounded by many acres of well-tended corn, beans, pumpkins, and melons.  Austin made a treaty with the Waco about this same time, but by 1872 the tribe had been moved to a reservation in Oklahoma. Anglos began settling the area in 1838, naming the town in honor of the tribe they had displaced. The Waco Suspension Bridge, crucial to the crossing of the Brazos River was completed in 1870. The cattle, driven north along the Chisholm Trail, crossed the Brazos River at Waco, either by paying the Suspension Bridge toll, or by floating their herds down the river. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1971, the bridge is only to pedestrian traffic. Around the bridge are sculptures of a Texas trail drive, complete with longhorns and cowboys. These bronze sculptures are hot after standing in the morning sun, discouraging folks from trying to sit on their backs. We walked along the bridge, enjoying the views up and down the river, as well as getting a good look at the painting on the remaining abutment of an older bridge. Be advised that this is an old bridge with a rather large, unmarked step from the side down onto the bridge, itself. The step blends in with the bridge and is a fall risk. One of our group found out the hard way and is still recovering from the fall.


Three and one-half carrots
Once we decided to grab a bite to eat, we headed to George's (1925 Speight Ave, Waco,
Top L to R: George's logo, Bread, Chicken fried steak
Bottom L to R: Fried catfish, Blackened catfish
TX 76706, 254-753-1421). This restaurant has been in the Waco area for 86 years, although not in the same location or with the same owners. This is a place to get 'home cooking'. Previous reviews said that if you get there around noon, there will be a wait; they weren't wrong. We arrived at about 11:00AM, were quickly seated, and got to see the parade of patrons increase as it got closer to noon. I decided to have the fried catfish lunch special. This came with fried okra, beans, and macaroni and cheese; fresh bread came with the meal, as well. I got the best plate of food. The catfish was white, crispy, and hot; the beans were filled with pieces of bacon and other spices; the mac and cheese was also very tasty. We all agreed that the Hawaiian sweet rolls were good, as well. Dave had the chicken-fried steak lunch special. He also got fried okra, but his other side was garlic mashed potatoes. He wasn't impressed with the steak; the coating fell off and the gravy was watery with little taste. He did like the potatoes. Vince also liked his garlic mashed potatoes, but wasn't impressed with his blackened catfish; it didn't have enough spices or enough blackening. We all agreed that the okra could have been crisper. However, the waitress, Kristen, was excellent: efficient, quick, and very personable. The prices were also very good. We all had lunch, including sweet tea, for about $25. I'd go back again either to try something different or to have some more of their very good fried catfish.
For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.

Painting on old bridge abutment

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