Archive for the 'History' Category

State Bison Herd at Caprock Canyons State Park

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Members of the Texas State Bison Herd at Caprock Canyons State Park

This is Passport to Texas

Caprock Canyons State Park is home to living history: the State Bison Herd.

The herd was started by Charles Goodnight back in the 1870s. And it’s one of the five foundation herds that all bison today pretty much come from.

Unchecked slaughter of Bison nearly brought them to extinction. Mary Goodnight, wife of legendary Texas rancher Charles Goodnight, encouraged her husband to capture calves to save the species. The 130 or so bison roaming Caprock Canyons today are direct descendants of those animals.

There is about 12-thousand acres of bison range in the park. Just about everything that’s open to the public is open to the bison. You can run into them almost everywhere in the park.

Donald Beard, Park Superintendent, says although bison roam freely, visitors must not interact with them.

We do everything we can to keep the park visitor and the animal safe. We educate the visitors as they come in. There are signs. As they come into the visitor center, they’re hand a safety message pamphlet that talks about what to do if you run into a bison on the trail. We just have to keep telling visitors that this is a bison range; of course the bison have the right-of-way. So, the best thing you can do if you run along a bison on a trail is find a shade tree, get out your camera, take some pictures, and wait for them to move on.

Tomorrow: the annual Texas Bison Music Fest.

That’s our show… Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram

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

TPW TV – Rescuing History

Friday, July 15th, 2016
Bison at Caprock Canyons State Park

Bison at Caprock Canyons State Park

This is Passport to Texas

For the past 30 years, PBS viewers have experienced the Texas outdoors through Texas Parks and Wildlife’s television series. To celebrate, show producers, including Karen Loke who’s been with the series 24 years, share their favorite stories from the past.

And my favorite story is called Rescuing History. It’s about the capture and relocation of the last of the Southern Plains bison herd.

[Narrator Jim Swift] Doug is helping capture and relocate the last few descendants of the Southern Plains Bison. A pure, genetic strain of buffalo found nowhere else in the world.

[Doug Humphreys] But what makes this one different is that another buffalo has never been brought into this herd. There’s been no outside gene source introduced into this particular bison herd. So we’ve got a distinct genetic strain of buffalo that doesn’t exist anywhere else.

Producer Karen Loke said this touched her due to something rather unexpected that happened during filming. You can see for yourself when you tune into the Texas Parks and Wildlife television series on PBS the week of July 17.

[Roy Welch] To those of us involved in this project, it’s turned into be something quite more than just a simple matter of capturing a bison herd and relocating them over here to Caprock Canyons, in essence, we’re literally capturing a living piece of Texas history.

The award-winning Texas Parks and Wildlife Television series celebrates 30 years on PBS all season long. Check your local listings.

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

TPW TV: Buffalo Soldiers

Friday, March 25th, 2016
Devonte Hill

Devonte Hill, decked out as a Buffalo Soldier

This is Passport to Texas

After graduating from college, but before entering the working world, Devonte Hill—who has a passion for storytelling—volunteered with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Buffalo Soldier program.

 I was a Texas state parks youth ambassador and got turned on to the Buffalo Soldiers program. I’m always open to new experiences.

Buffalo Soldiers entered Texas history in 1866; these African American men assisted and protected settlement as it moved westward. Texas parks and Wildlife developed the Buffalo Soldier program to preserve that history. As a volunteer, Devonte wore a soldier’s uniform to help bring history to life for grade school students.

 I don’t have too much experience with kids besides my cousins; so it will be interesting dealing with the little people. [laughs]

The program uses the Buffalo Soldier’s rich heritage and history to connect urban audiences to the outdoors. This is important because, as Devonte points out…

When you see things on TV about outdoors and things like that, all you really see is a certain type of demographic. And so you kind of get raised thinking those things are not for me.

Devonte Hill has gone on to a job in television, and says his work with the Buffalo Soldiers was life changing.

Hopefully this is the first step to me continuing my training and practice at being a storyteller. And this is part of my story.

See a segment with Devonte Hill and other Buffalo Soldier volunteers next week on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS.

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

The Forgotten City Beneath a Lake

Monday, March 14th, 2016
Current residents of Lake Texana.

Current residents of Lake Texana.

NOTE: Lake Texana State Park – Is now under the management of the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority. The park is open under the new name, Texana Park and Campground.

This is Passport to Texas

In 1832, Dr. Francis F. Wells—a member of Stephen F. Austin’s Old 300—founded a town along a bend of the Navidad River, which eventually became known as Texana.

This was the western most settlement of Austin.

Cindy Baker served as an interpretive ranger at the former Lake Texana State Park. Texana was a thriving community; it was in a good location, had abundant natural resources, and a shallow water port. It could have been great if not for short-sighted decisions by its founding father.

Two brothers showed up and offered for 100-thousand dollars to buy the town. Mr. Wells said, ‘No. We want 200-thousand. We love our town.’ And the two brothers—wanted to build a deep water port—so they went east, they found the Buffalo Bayou, they dug their deep water port, and they called it Houston.

And, in 1883 the New York, Texas and Mexican Railway bypassed the settlement.

A man named Telferner came through and said, ‘For 30-thousand dollars, I’d like to put my railroad stop here in your town.’ And they said, ‘A railroad? We have a port. We don’t want your dirty old railroad.’ He moved seven miles north, and he named that stop after his daughter Edna. Within two years, everyone picked up and moved to Edna.

Texana became a ghost town, which today rests at the bottom of Lake Texana, created in 1979 when the Lavaca-Navidad River Authority built a damn on the Navidad River.

Funding provided in part by Ram Trucks. Guts. Glory. Ram.

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


Celebrating Texas Independence

Friday, February 19th, 2016
Independence Hall Exhibit at Washinghton-on-the-Brazos, Photo credit: Rob McCorkle, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Independence Hall Exhibit at Washington-on-the-Brazos, Photo credit: Rob McCorkle, © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

This is Passport to Texas

Texas Independence Day is March 2. And Washington on the Brazos is where it all started.

This town was chosen as the site of the general convention, which met on March 1, 1836, and adjourned on March 17.

Janice Campbell, former interpreter at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, said those seventeen days in 1836, paved the way for Texas future.

In those seventeen days, the elected delegates that came here, they declared their independence from Mexico; they wrote a constitution; and they elected some officers for a government. So, I guess you could say the groundwork of the government of the Republic of Texas was created right here in Washington.

Campbell said one cannot help but feel a deep connection to the past when visiting Washington-on-the-Brazos.

It’s pretty awesome to be able to walk out there, and walk along the main thoroughfare of the town and know that we are walking in the footsteps of history…right here in Washington.

Check out the Texas Parks and Wildlife Calendar of events to see when Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site plans to celebrate Texas’ Independence.

We record our series at the Block House in Austin and Joel Block engineers our program.

That’s our show… For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.