History: William George Hughes

September 30th, 2014

The kind of train wreck that may have ended William George Hughes life.

The kind of train wreck that may have ended William George Hughes life.



This is Passport to Texas

Englishman, William George Hughes came to America after the Civil War; he was 18 and penniless. He settled in the Boerne area, found work, and eventually saved enough money to buy land where he raised sheep and goats.

07—He’s the American Dream in a way; he came over penniless and managed to make a nice life for himself and his family.

Historian, Jennifer Carpenter says Hughes was an entrepreneur and natural leader.

15—So, he definitely left an impact on the economy; he founded a stagecoach company that ran between Boerne and Bandera County. He was a civic leader for the area. And, I think if he had lived a little bit longer he probably would have become one of the preeminent ranchers of the area.

Hughes died tragically in a train accident transporting his livestock. He was only 42.

24—He would travel around the country selling them, or making sure people were aware of his ranch and what he offered. And, I guess he traveled pretty close to his animals. He would be in one of the car s with them. And he was on his way to Paducah, KY – I believe – enroute in Illinois, and apparently his train collided with another. And he was asleep at the time – at least that’s what the news report led me to believe. The impact caused him to die instantly.

The animals survived. His wife settled his estate, sold the ranch, and moved with their three children to the east coast.

Learn more about other early Texans on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

History: Telling Texas’ Stories

September 29th, 2014

Terrain of Bandera County

Terrain of Bandera County



This is Passport to Texas

Jennifer Carpenter is a historian with State Parks.

08—We are charged with anything relating to history of the state park system and historic preservation of structures throughout
the state park system and our at historic sites.

Much of her job involves detective work. Lately she’s been hot on the trail of Englishman William George Hughes, a 19th Century Hill Country Sheep Rancher. Parts of ranch lie within the boundaries of a parcel Texas Parks and Wildlife is developing called ABK, or Albert and Bessie Kronkosky State Natural Area in Kendall and Bandera counties.

13— So, we had a name, but we didn’t really know what it meant. We went to the county court houses and dug through lease records and probate record, whatever we could try to find. So we would kind of search around in different repositories through Texas.

And the digging paid off.

19— The University of Texas at San Antonio had the Garland A. Perry papers; and he wrote a book on William George Hughes. He, I guess, had contacted the Hughes family descendants and they shared with Mr. Perry a vast collection of family photographs, papers, business materials. It was just a great cache.

Jennifer Carpenter shares more about this19th Century Englishman turned Texan and his role in the economic development of the Hill Country tomorrow.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

TPW TV: Beneath the Surface

September 26th, 2014


This is Passport to Texas

Cast your gaze across the Texas landscape and its majesty and diversity become evident. Yet to experience the full depth these qualities you must dig deeper; go beneath the surface.

07— All these things behind me are not mountains. They’re the edge of the rim of the canyon; we’re 800 feet below the level of the ground.

That’s ranger Randy Ferris talking about Palo Duro Canyon.

12—This is like a reverse mountain. I mean, everything is flat; if you’ve driven across the Texas Panhandle, it’s like driving on the world’s largest billiard table. And then we get to Palo Duro Canyon, and the bottom just drops out of it.

Hidden worlds also exist below the surface of fresh and salt water – especially saltwater. Sylvia Earle, Advisory Board Chair, at the Harte Research Institute, says we must treat the Gulf with care and reverence or lose it.

17— We have in the past thought it was free, and infinite in its capacity to recover no matter what we did to it. But we’re learning that unless we take care and understand that this is a shared ocean, and that we need to work together to understand it, take care of it, and to use it – but don’t use it up.

View a segment on the Texas Parks and Wildlife PBS TV series called Beneath the Surface this week. Check your local listings.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Recreation: Geocaching in State Parks

September 25th, 2014

Geocaching in a state park.

Geocaching in a state park.



This is Passport to Texas

State park visitors hunt for containers filled with trinkets when they’re geocaching. Yet, in time, they discover the real treasure is spending time in nature.

03—I guess maybe that’s the secret cache; the unknown one.

Cassie Cox, with the Texas Outdoor Family Program, aims to change that. The staffs of the Texas Outdoor Family program and state parks teach visitors geocaching as a way to connect them with the natural world.

17—It’s bridges nature and technology. It uses that technology to encourage children, and families and other people to get outdoors, and to get on the trail. You have a mission [to locate a cache], and you’re using that technology to help you find it. And along the way you may discover things that you haven’t ever seen before.

Like wildlife, plant life, or unusual geologic features.

Using coordinates from geocaching.com and a hand-held GPS or smart phone, visitors hit the trail…and ideally… don’t stray far from it.

08—It’s best to stay on the trail – that’s a Leave No Trace principle. It helps you be safe, and it helps protect the resources in the park.

September is the time to learn about geocaching; it’s the outdoor activity of the month at Texas State Parks.

09—Just go on the [TPW] webpage, look at a park near you to see if they’re offering geocaching workshops. Trust me, you’ll have a
great time; it’s addicting. It’s so much fun.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Camping: Texas Outdoor Families

September 24th, 2014

Camping at Inks Lake

Camping at Inks Lake



This is Passport to Texas

Longer nights and cooler temperatures make fall an ideal time for overnight camping at a Texas State Park. But if you’re new to the activity and don’t know a tent flap from a flap jack, the Texas Outdoor Family program can help.

05—We provide them some gear and get them a little more comfortable before they actually get out there and do it on their own.

Lindsay Carter is a Park Ranger with the Texas Outdoor Family program. During weekend workshops, rangers and volunteers teach families how to set up camp and get comfortable with the gear. Then there are activities.

14—We love having planned activities for them, which is, of course, not required – but stuff that they can do if they want to hang out with us. Kayaking, geocaching, fishing, outdoor cooking…things like this. We like to have a lot of activities to keep them busy while they’re out there.

Up to six peopek per family can sign up for a one or two night workshop. It’s $65 for one-night workshops and $85 for two-night workshops. TOF provides the tents and cooking gear…

10—We ask that they bring groceries that they would like for the weekend. Sleeping bags. Pillows. We have a list on our website of things to bring. But, basically, that’s it.

Texas Outdoor Family workshops take place throughout the state beginning this month. Visit the Texas Outdoor Family page at texasstateparks.org to find one close to you.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife, I’m Cecilia Nasti.