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Written by Matt Joyce

In the second half of the 19th century, the United States established a line of military posts in west-central Texas to protect settlers from hostile Native Americans and other frontier turbulence. A new book, The Texas Forts Trail, offers a concise and colorful introduction to the forts and the experience they offer visitors today.

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Fifty years ago on this date, the President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy checked into Suite 850 of the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth. It would be the last night of the president's life; he was assassinated the following day, November 22, 1963, in Dallas.

A group of historians and others who study the historic French presence in the upper Mississippi Valley will gather in Austin this weekend to discuss a French explorer who’s New World journey encountered rough travels in a territory that came to be Texas.

For space buffs, astronauts are intensely fascinating. Only a select few dreamers make NASA’s cut to join the ranks of space travelers. Their mastery of science, aviation, and physical fitness sets them apart. Their explorations are heralded in classrooms, books, and movies.

 

Famous Water Company, the bottlers of Crazy Water in Mineral Wells, have opened the Crazy Water Bath House to offer visitors a similar soaking experience to the one that attracted hordes to "take the waters" back in Mineral Wells' heyday as a health resort.

It may seem like the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy has been dissected in every manner imaginable. But the assassination's pending 50th anniversary on November 22 continues to reveal new perspectives of the event. Case in point: Wednesday's opening of the Ruth Paine House Museum, the suburban Irving home where Lee Harvey Oswald stayed the night before he shot Kennedy.

The heart of downtown Fort Worth is debuting its  makeover with the grand opening celebration of the new Sundance Square Plaza.

Wildfires, parched pastures, evaporating lakes, we all have our own experience of the drought that's been plaguing Texas in recent years. A photo exhibit on display this week at the State Capitol shares new perspectives from citizens across the state.

Dry lake bed at Lake Meredith. Photo © Kent Satterwhite. Dry lake bed at Lake Meredith. Photo © Kent Satterwhite.

The Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Water Development Board, and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department are showcasing the photographs as part of their "What does your Texas drought look like?" campaign.

The exhibit opened Monday and continues through Friday in the Capitol's 2nd Floor Extension, Central Gallery.

Despite recent rainfall in much of the state, 62 percent of Texas remains in drought and another 24 percent is abnormally dry, according to the federal government's U.S. Drought Monitor.

The exhibit includes some of the hundreds of images that people across Texas shared via Flickr, Instagram, and Twitter as part of the agencies' photo project. You can see some of the photos on the project's Flickr page.

The project has created a historical record of the drought, and represents both water supply deficits and the ways Texans deal with drought through conservation efforts, according to a news release.

If we get the rainfall predicted this week, let's hope the exhibit stays up for another couple of weeks. It couldn't hurt.

It's hard to say what's most impressive about the new Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio. It could be Pancho Villa's last-known saddle, decorated with braided silver. Or the exhibit of more than 100 spurs, presented as a "school" swimming in an aquarium-like display case. Or the Frederic Remington colorful oil painting, "A Dandy on the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City, 1890."

With the reopening of the federal government, Guadalupe Mountains National Park is open to visitors in time for its colorful fall foliage season. As of this week, the park’s bigtooth maples are still green and the colors are still to come.Study Tour, Guadalupe Mtns St Pk

As part of its 15th anniversary celebration, the Texas Forts Trail Region has launched a passport program to encourage visitors to explore various museums, historic forts, and other sites across West-Central Texas.

One possible silver lining to the partial shutdown of the federal government: The closure of Big Bend National Park has created a welcome influx of visitors at Big Bend Ranch State Park.

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