Forgotten Landmark-Blue River Highway Bridge, Old U.S. 70, Blue, OK

Blue River Highway Bridge, Old U.S. Highway 70, southwest of Blue, Oklahoma

U.S. Highway 70 parallels the route of the St. Louis & San Francisco (Frisco Railroad).  Prior to the creation of the Federal Highway System in 1926, this route was referred to as the Bankhead Highway, a segment of the Rand McNally Auto Trails system.  The Bankhead Highway traversed the southern United States, beginning in Washington D.C. and traveling through Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, and Phoenix to San Diego. West of Little Rock, Arkansas, the Bankhead Highway ran in two parallel routes.  The northerly route followed U.S. 70 from Little Rock to Roswell, New Mexico.



The highway bridge in the photos below is located along a portion of the old U.S. Highway 70, whose route travels south of the current route between Bokchito and Hugo.  This bridge was constructed in 1921 by the General Construction Company of St. Louis under the direction of the Federal Aid Project.  During 1921, 162 miles of highway were constructed by the state under the Federal Aid and 32 miles were built by counties.  The total estimated cost was $4,847,000.


Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River


Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

A similar bridge was constructed over Caddo Creek, east of the town of Blue (photos below).

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

American Trails Revisited–Texas’ Chisholm Trail (Spanish Fort)

Spanish Fort, TX

Spanish Fort Vicinity Today

Google Maps 7/26/2015

The present site of the community of Spanish Fort was the scene of one of the decisive battles of early Texas history. As early as 1700, the French were active along the Red River, and in 1719 Bernard de la Harpe established on the south bank of the river, on the site of the principal village of the Caddoes, an outpost which he called Fort St. Louis de Carlorette. It served as a traders’ and trappers’ supply station but was abandoned after a few years. In 1759 Colonel Diego Ortiz Parrilla, advancing from San Antonio and San Saba, came upon Indians entrenched behind a stout stockade, over which flew the French flag. His report described the fort as consisting of high oval-shaped structures, surrounded by a ditch and a log stockade. Armed by the French, the Indians soundly defeated Parilla and sent him back in hasty retreat. Under the treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762, the French ceded Louisiana Territory to Spain, and abandoned their western outpost. Spanish exploration parties and patrols visited the site from time to time until as late as 1800. Then all reports of the old post ceased until its ruins were found in 1859. The description of the ruins of that date correspond remarkably with the data of Parrilla 100 years before. Today, hardly discernible mounds are all that remain.


Spanish Fort Vicinity

Railroad Map of Texas 1884

American Trails Revisited–Texas’ Chisholm Trail (Introduction)

The following is a portion from a new travel guide, Texas’ Chisholm Trail, in my American Trails Revisited series (available for the Amazon Kindle and other eBook formats).   In the coming months, I will post portions of this guide as I develop it for publication.

Background from Texas-A Guide to the Lone Star State (published in 1940 by the Federal Works Agency, Work Projects Administration, and Texas State Highway Commission):

“The first cattle known to have entered Texas were 500 cows brought by Coronado in 1541. Many of the explorers, fearing a food shortage in an unknown land, brought livestock. Some of these cattle escaped and wandered through the wilderness, to become the nucleus of vast wild herds. The Spanish colonists found a natural pasto, or pasture, covering southwest Texas. Reynosa, in 1757, with a population of 269, had 18,000 head of cattle. De Mezieres (1779) reported that a fat cow was worth only four pesos, yet the ranches flourished. Herds were driven to market in Louisiana by Spanish ranchers in defiance of customs laws. Thus, probably the first smuggling in the State was that of cattle. Owners marked their stock when possible, but most of the cattle were unbranded. The wild herds were not molested by the Indians, who preferred the meat of the buffalo.

It was in east Texas that modern ranching began. James Taylor White, the first real Anglo-American cattleman, established the first ranch of the modern type near Turtle Bayou in Chambers County.  Other ranchers followed White to east Texas. They drove their herds to New Orleans to market, using the Old Beef Trail and others. Hides and tallow still had more value than beef. The most important event to pioneer Texas cattlemen was the introduction of Brahma or Zebu cattle from India, a variety scientifically designated as Bos Indicus and differing radically from the European variety of Bos Taurus. It was not until after the Civil War that Brahmas were secured in large numbers. The first record of a successful crossing of these cattle with native stock was in 1874 when Captain Mifflin Kenedy experimented with his herds. Fever ticks had been a barrier to the introduction of Hereford, Shorthorn and other beef breeds in the coastal and southern area. The Brahmas and cattle produced by crossing them with other breeds proved to be immune from tick fever, and were also better beef cattle. As ticks have never been eradicated from some sections, Brahma blood is still essential to the State’s livestock industry.

By 1860, there were more than three million head of cattle in Texas. The Union blockade prevented the shipment of large herds to supply the Confederate army, and at the close of the Civil War the State was overrun with cattle, many of them wild. Longhorns were almost worthless in 1866. Range animals sold for $3 and $4 a head, although in the North butchers were paying from $30 to $40 a head for beeves. Everyone had cattle and nobody had wealth.

And in Texas, especially in the brush country, wild native stock had flourished. Here the Texas cowboy had emerged. There also were    (cowpunchers, from vaca, meaning cow), who were Mexicans. Both of these classes of cowboys had learned to pursue “strays” through the densest thickets. The term “maverick” had come into being as a synonym for unbranded cattle, and there were countless herds of longhorns, too valueless to be branded. Obviously, the thing to do was to drive the herds to shipping points. Yet the nearest railroads were in Kansas and Missouri, 1,000 to 1,500 miles distant.

A few adventurous spirits led the way across those untried miles to the railheads, in the late sixties. Trails, some of them bearing the names of the men who blazed them, came into being, such as the Chisholm Trail. Abilene, Kansas, became a roaring cowtown, followed by Dodge City and other shipping points that sprang up in the wake of the mighty movement of cattle. No other industry in the Southwest had such economic significance or such picturesque aspects. The driving of herds caused towns, customs, and a distinct type of people to grow up beside the trails. About five million Texas cattle were driven to market during the 15 years of trail driving, yet when the railroads reached Texas and the drives were no longer necessary, there were more cattle in the State than when the drives began.”


Forgotten Landmark–Tracks of Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway, Mineral Well, TX

Tracks of Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway (NW 2nd Avenue, between NW 4th and NW 7th Streets)



The gasoline-powered “Dinky cars” of the Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway provided service from Mineral Wells to Lake Pinto. There were four cars used, including “Ben Hur” and “Esther”. This railway operated from 1905 until 1909. (Current track photos below text)

The Mineral Wells & Lakewood Park Railway was chartered on March 1st, 1907, and began operating on May 12th, 1907. The railway operated on 2.5 miles of track, with a gauge of 4 feet and 8 ½ inches, using electricity.

The Mineral Wells Electric System operated two electric street cars in the city of Mineral Wells from 1907 to 1913; one on Hubbard Street from NE 17th Avenue to SW 6th Avenue (later part of the Bankhead Highway), and one on Oak (now NW 2nd) Avenue from NE 17th Street to SE 11th Street, thence Southwest to Elmhurst Park. However, two gasoline-powered 70 passenger (all-passenger) motor cars were operated by the Weatherford, Mineral Wells and Northwestern Railroad (WMW&NW) between Graford, Mineral Wells, Ft. Worth and Dallas from 1912 to 1935. An electric interurban line was not built.

Streetcar Tracks at NW 7th Mineral Wells P1010306 P1010305


Forgotten Landmark-Taylor & Howard Building, Leigh, TX

P1010219 P1010220

Leigh (10.6 miles north of U.S. 80 on FM 134 at FM 1999)

Leigh, also known as Antioch, is on a site said to have been the location of a large Indian village. In the early 1840s, J. J. Webster built a plantation home, Mimosa Hall, a mile southwest of the site; Webster’s descendants occupied the house until 1984, when the property was sold. The community of Antioch, which had a predominantly black population, was founded before 1900 and was centered on the Antioch Baptist Church. In 1900, the forerunner of the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway was built through Antioch, and Reverend James Patterson built a restaurant and a general store on land adjoining the railroad. Residents of Blocker, three miles to the northeast, moved to the railroad community. Antioch was renamed Leigh in 1901, after the wife of John W. Furrh, who owned much of the land on the railroad, and that same year the Leigh post office opened. In 1904, Leigh had one school with five white students and four schools with 297 black students. By 1914, the community had a population of fifty, three general stores, two cotton gins, a drugstore, a blacksmith shop, and telephone service. After attaining a peak population of 126 in the 1920s, Leigh declined to 100 in 1930, when it had a church, two schools, and three businesses. The railroad was rerouted to the north in the 1950s. By 1978, Leigh had two churches (St. Paul’s Episcopal and Antioch Baptist), a community center, the Antioch Cemetery, and a number of dwellings.[i]

[i] Leigh, TX; Texas State Historical Association;


Point of Interest:

Mimosa Hall (9.4 miles north of U.S. 80 on FM 134) (Private)

Virginia-born John Johnston Webster (1796-1854) brought his family to the Republic of Texas, petitioning for land on which to establish a home in 1842.  Built in 1844, Mimosa Hall was part of a 3,000 acre plantation. The estate and one-hundred and fifty acres that went along with it was deeded to Douglas V. Blocker within a partition deed in 1932.  Blocker continued to own the property until 1984 when he sold it to Michael Howard. At some point, Michael Howard deeded the property to his son Nicholas Leon Howard III, who then deeded it to his mother, Virginia Dyke Hamilton in 1989.  Virginia sold the home in 1993 to the present owners, Andrew and Katherine Ann Hirsch. The Hirsch family have maintained the home and kept it in pristine condition. The front façade remains in its original state but the remainder of the home has had many changes throughout the years as well as a rear addition which was built on in 1932.[ii]

In 1844, Webster’s son-in-law, the Reverend George F. Heard, became the first person to be buried in the cemetery at Mimosa Hall Plantation. He was followed by Mrs. Mirriam (Brown) Webster. Other notable graves include those of the Reverend William Moore Steele and five Webster slaves or ex-slaves. Veterans of several wars also are interred here. The wall surrounding the oldest graves was constructed by plantation labor.  The cemetery is located southwest of the house on private land.

[ii] Mimosa Hall; Stephen F. Austin University Center for Regional Heritage Research;

Forgotten Natural Landmark-Providence Canyon State Park, Lumpkin, GA

Providence Canyon State Park (Georgia Highway 39C, between Lumpkin and Florence, Georgia)

Georgia’s “Little Grand Canyon” is a testament to the power of man’s influence on the land. Massive gullies as deep as 150 feet were caused simply by poor farming practices during the 1800’s, yet today they make some of the prettiest photographs within the state. The rare Plumleaf Azalea grows only in this region and blooms during July and August when most azaleas have lost their color.  The canyon soil’s pink, orange, red and purple hues make a beautiful natural painting at this quiet park.

DSC_0003 DSC_0006 DSC_0007 DSC_0009 DSC_0010

Forgotten Landmark-Saint Valéry Church, Varengeville sur Mer, France

Saint-Valéry Church (Route de l’Eglise, north of Chemin En Impasse, Varengeville sur Mer)

The Saint-Valéry Church in Varengeville-sur-Mer is perched on top of the cliffs of Ailly, hidden among gardens and woods bordering the cliff and overlooks the sea from a height of 84 metres. The lateral aisle in sandstone dates back to 1548 and was perhaps built by Jehan Ango to enlarge the primitive sanctuary. The Choir is bathed in a blue light diffused by the abstract stained glass of Raoul Ubac, disciple of Braque. The wreathed column is decorated with reliefs which were inspired by maritime expeditions. The 3rd column is polygonal (a Henry II pillar top). In 1998, Michel Ciry offered a large oil canvas entitled “Christ The Redeemer”. Important protection and consolidation tasks were recently undertaken by the municipality, the State, the Department and the Region.

It is surrounded by the marine cemetery, made famous by 2 brothers, Jérôme and Jean Tharaud, who lived in Varengeville and wrote several texts about it in the Chronicles of Figaro in 1948. This was the beginning of the fame of this sanctuary. Some artists compare the texts of the Tharaud brothers to the poem by Paul Valéry, the Marine Cemetery, written in 1920 and singing the charms of the marine cemetery of Sète. Analogies were drawn between the two cemeteries.[i]

Saint-Valéry Church

[i] Monuments-The Churches; Dieppe-maritime tourisme;


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