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Web Extra (Archive) (85)

Friday, 04 May 2012 16:07

Web Extra: Joe Benton Collection

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See related: Go Nocona!

The Tales ‘N’ Trails Museum in Nocona displays many items from the extensive collection of the late Joe Benton, a local cattle rancher and oilman (and mayor of Nocona from 1915-1917) with a passionate interest in history, especially the history of Montague County. Benton’s descendants also donated six acres of land for the museum, which opened in June 2010.

During the first half of the 1900s, Benton amassed a huge array of items from the Red River Valley, including French and Spanish artifacts from the mid-1600s and 1700s, as well as Native American grinding stones, pottery, and beads. Some of the oldest items are Paleoindian points that date to between 10,000 to 8,000 B.C.

“About 90 percent of the items came from the Spanish Fort area,” says Nell Ann McBroom, the museum’s collection manager. “Youngsters would search for arrowheads along the banks of the Red River and exchange them with Mr. Benton for a nickel to go to the movies and get a coke. This was in the 1940s, before people realized how damaging looting was to archeological sites.”

Visitors can see hundreds of the Red River Valley artifacts in the museum’s permanent exhibit on Native American culture. Others are on display in temporary exhibits, which rotate every four months. “It’s a massive collection; there’s no way we’ll be able to display all of it in my lifetime,” says McBroom.

 “Mr. Benton also gathered a wonderful cache of first-hand accounts of life on the Chisholm Trail, which passed through Nocona,” says Shannon Gillette, a museum board member and author of Images of America: Nocona (Arcadia Publishing, 2011). “In 1910, he placed ads in newspapers throughout the Southwest, asking anyone who had driven cattle down the trail to write and tell him about their experiences. He received 80 letters, one of which was from the chief of police in Abilene, J.J. Clinton, a former trail boss. In this letter, dated September 6, 1910, Clinton writes:

‘The first herd I drove we had 1900 hed [sic] of steers, twenty men, forty horses, an old wagon and a yoke of steers, and I lost about 125 head of cattle on the trip.  The last herd I drove, I had 5027 head of mixed cattle, eleven men, besides myself, 85 horses, a big wagon drawn by four horses, and I only lost 23 head of cattle on that trip. The men were paid from $35.00 to $50.00 per month, the boss getting from $100.00 to $200.00 per month.’”

Gillette’s book details other aspects of Benton’s collections, as well as Nocona’s history. It retails for $21.99 and is available at the Trails ‘N’ Tales Museum or through

The Trails ‘N’ Tales Museum is at 1522 E. Hwy. 82 (US 82 and Airport Rd.), 940/825-5330; Admission: $3, $2 ages 11 and younger and age 62 and older. Hours: Mon-Sat 10-5; Sun by appt.

—Nola McKey

Tuesday, 03 April 2012 13:51

TH Deal: Trois Estate

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In the May issue, writer Barbara Rodriquez reveals a destination bed and breakfast that’s almost as enchanting as the famous site that lies next door—Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Only 16 miles from Fredericksburg, the b&b features fine dining and European spa services in a romantic, old Mexico-inspired setting. Rebecca Trois, owner of the b&b and restaurant, offers a special discount for Texas Highways readers: Mention the Texas Highways “Special Deal,” and you’ll receive a 15% discount on b&b suites and restaurant meals. Or, readers can opt to stay two nights at the b&b at the regular rate and receive a third night free (which can be used later, if you prefer, or given to someone else). There’s no expiration date on either offer! See

 See full article in the May 2012 issue. 

Tuesday, 03 April 2012 13:23

TH Tip: Homes and History

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By Claire Ronner

Take a walk through the decades during the 38th annual Galveston Historic Homes Tour on May 5, 6, 12, and 13. The 10 homes showcased range from 96 to 142 years old and were previously inhabited by German, French, and English immigrants; a cigar factory; families both big and small, including a family of thirteen; contractors, real estate brokers, businessmen, and even past presidents at the University of Texas Medical Branch.

The Galveston Historical Foundation provides a brochure with a map and images of all the homes on tour. Once you begin exploring, docents lead small group tours through each individual house throughout the four days. This year visitors can enter to win a free cruise from the Galveston Historical Foundation and Galveston by filling out a form on the bottom of their ticket and dropping it off at one of the homes on tours. The houses open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and tickets are good for all four days of the event.

Accompanying the Homes Tour are various side events that include a Biking Through History Tour, Galveston’s celebration of Lemonade Day, and mint juleps at the Michel B. Menard House for History on Tap. The 8th annual Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch takes place on May 13 from 10 a.m. to noon and also features a fashion show.

For more information and the list of this year’s homes on display, visit Galveston Historic Homes Tour.

See full article in the May 2012 issue.

Tuesday, 03 April 2012 12:05

Web Extra: Al Weiwei

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While researching the May issue’s short story on Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads–a series of 12 bronze sculptures on view through June 3 at Houston’s Hermann Park—Senior Editor Lori Moffatt chatted with Houston Arts Alliance CEO Jonathan Glus about bringing these important works to Texas, as well as the importance of public art.

“First, about the Houston Arts Alliance: We are the city’s municipal arts agency. We’re a non-profit organization, and we were created by the city 6 years ago to advance arts services on behalf of the city. We leverage public and private money to benefit arts organizations,” says Glus.

“The vast majority of the pieces are in public spaces for viewing. Over the past few years, the three most visible permanent projects have been installed at the Bush International Airport—the three 60-foot sculptures by the late artist Dennis Oppenheim, called Radiant Fountains. They’re illuminated by multicolored LED lights and serve as the gateway to the airport.

“In addition to siting permanent projects like Radiant Fountains, in 2009 the Houston Arts Alliance rolled out our temporary art program (TAP). Twice a year, we bring to a part of the city a temporary art project. The TAP program has two primary foci. One is to bring to public spaces works by national and internationally recognized artists who are well into their career, such as James Surls, now Ai Weiwei. The second half of TAP is focused on local and regional mid-career artists who are interested in the intersection of architecture, design, and pubic space. These artists often incorporate 20th-Century technology into their artwork.

“Specific to Ai Weiwei, we reached out to the foundation in New York that is traveling this exhibition. We felt it was important to bring this artist to Houston at this point in time. Not only is he the most globally recognized contemporary artist at this time, but he has produced extremely well-crafted and thought-provoking artwork. Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads is his first major outdoor public art project. After this, they go to Washington, Princeton, and they’re done.

“Visitors to Hermann Park can see them adjacent to McGovern Lake, in the heart of the park. You can see them sunrise to sunset. It’s wonderful watching people looking at them. At first, you’re drawn to the sale itself, then the sense that they’re sitting there, looking out onto the water, which is on purpose. The artist approved of the siting, even if he is not permitted to leave Beijing. He wanted these objects looking out onto the water, as they once were in Beijing. The level of detail is extraordinary. For example, with the dragon head, you can see the teeth, the tongue, the bronze hair features. Each one has a different personality. Some are very fierce, and the rabbit is almost playful. They reflect the personalities of the different zodiac signs.”

See full article in the May 2012 issue.

Monday, 02 April 2012 16:22

Web Extra: Remembering San Antonio

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By Claire Ronner

The trip to San Antonio to see the Alamo is a rite of passage for every Texas schoolkid. Although my sister and I are Hoosiers by birth, we were not exempt from that tradition.

My mother, her sister, and her three brothers grew up in Beeville, about a two-hour drive southeast of San Antonio. Half of them still live there, along with my grandma and other extended family members. Despite growing up in various places along the East Coast, Dad ended up 30 minutes southwest of Beeville in George West working as a construction engineer after he graduated from Virginia Tech. He met Mom while she was working at my grandparents’ store one day, and they later tied the knot in the church Mom had attended all her life.

When my parents moved away from Texas two years later, I think Mom vowed to personally tutor her children in Texas history. That meant every trip we made to Texas, even if it was spring break or summer vacation, incorporated some educational aspect. We toured the Berclair Mansion, not far from Beeville; explored the Bob Bullock Texas History Museum in Austin; admired marine life at the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi; and watched the ice cream-making process at the Blue Bell factory in Brenham.

En route to Beeville one spring break, we detoured through San Antonio to spend the day. It was March 2003—I was in sixth grade, my sister in fourth.  As the family bookworm, I went through phases of obsession with different historical eras growing up. Conveniently, I was fascinated then with Texas independence and had just pored over all the books on the topic that I could get my hands on. We started our day with the main event: a visit to the Alamo.

As we wandered through the Shrine of Texas Liberty, the overall size of the mission surprised Dad and me. We’d expected a huge fortress, like in the movies we’d seen, but this was an intimate space with small rooms. Mom and Dad remember discussing with us the valiant efforts of William B. Travis and Davy Crockett to protect the mission, Santa Anna’s violent assault, and Sam Houston’s subsequent victory at San Jacinto.  I remember the Alamo being quiet and walking from room to room in relative silence.

Shortly afterwards, we traded the tranquility of the storied mission for the bustling atmosphere of the River Walk, soaking in the colors of the umbrellas over restaurants’ tables and the tile mosaics on the walls and smelling the faint trace of chlorine from the water in the river. We ate lunch at one of the many Mexican restaurants along the River Walk. My memories of the meal are vague, save for the too-spicy salsa and the salty, delicious chips.

Our boat tour along the River Walk with an energetic, knowledgeable guide fascinated my parents and me, but my sister was a little too young to enjoy all the San Antonio trivia and dozed off at some point.

“At the time, I didn’t understand what the purpose of our trip was,” my sister says, laughing. “I just didn’t get it.”

The rest of the day is a blur in my memory, but Dad remembers that we walked around HemisFair Park and enjoyed the drastically warmer Texas weather compared to the snow we’d left behind in Indiana.

All of these memories and strong Texas ties led me to Austin this spring for my internship with Texas Highways. With an aunt, uncle, and two cousins in town, I’m always over at their house visiting, eating, or doing laundry. I was around to witness my aunt attempting to get my 10-year-old cousin excited about his upcoming San Antonio trip with his fourth-grade class. Like many 10-year-olds, though, he wasn’t thrilled at the prospect of spending all day in museums and old buildings. When he returned and half-heartedly recounted his day, I smiled to myself, knowing that just like the Texans who preceded him, my cousin will always remember the Alamo.

See full article in the May 2012 issue.

Friday, 09 March 2012 08:46

Web Extra: A Cook's Tour

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In the April 2012 Taste department, we show you the new Houston diner’s guide by the editors of My Table magazine, The Ultimate Food Lover’s Guide to Houston, and give you a teaser to the city’s popular “Where the Chefs Eat” Culinary Tours.


The tours, which are hosted by some of the city’s most sought-after chefs, don’t visit the chef’s own restaurants. Instead, tour participants discover the mom-and-pop restaurants frequented by the chefs on their days off. Trust us—the tours are great fun and really open your eyes to the varied influences of Houston’s rich culinary scene.

As food writer and restaurateur Robb Walsh puts it: “The state of fusion cuisine in Houston is absolutely fascinating. We have places where you’ll find croissants stuffed with goat curry, pizza made with Indian tikka masala—Houston’s food scene is unique because of the many cultures that rub up against each other here.”

Tours are limited to 16 people each and cost $180. The price, which benefits the Houston Food Bank, includes plentiful tastings at each stop, luxury bus transportation, complimentary beverages by St. Arnold’s Brewing Company, and a gift bag. Tours sell out quickly, so if you see one you like, don’t hesitate. Jump on to sign up.

 Upcoming tours include forays to Hong Kong City Mall, explorations of Long Point Road, excursions to some of the city’s top Indian restaurants and foods serving Southern comfort foods, a fall tour dedicated to Day of the Day festivities, a dessert trek, and an adventure in Vietnamese cuisine.

 Next up on the schedule:

On April 22, “Crawfish with Chefs Mark Holley and Jonathan Jones.” Pesce’s Chef Mark Holley and Beaver’s Chef Jonathan Jones spotlight crawfish at two of the chefs’ favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurants, followed by a market trek to pick up supplies for a classic crawfish boil–and a cooking lesson.

On May 13, “Street Food with Chefs Jonathan Jones and Rebecca Masson.”  The duo will showcase the places driving Houston’s food-truck trend, including a burger bus, a mobile Vietnamese pho truck, and a chef-driven, cartoon-covered van known for its globally inspired food and menu that changes daily.

On May 20, “Chef’s Day Off with Chefs Terrence Gallivan and Seth Siegel-Gardner.” You’ll visit the oldest ice house swing by a neighborhood grocer for supplies for a backyard-pig roast, and then see how the revelry unfolds.

—Lori Moffatt

Friday, 09 March 2012 08:39

Web Extra: What's Cooking in Killeen?

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In the April issue’s Taste department, Lori Moffatt writes about her recent culinary adventure in Killeen. Here’s more on the topic, from Lori’s blog.


Like a lot of women in Central Texas, I imagine, I once dated a soldier stationed at Fort Hood, the lifeblood of the military city of Killeen. On most weekends during our short courtship, he’d visit me in Austin, where we’d frequent the live-music venues on Sixth Street and along Guadalupe, the road that parallels the UT campus.  On a few occasions, though, I made the one-hour trip to the base. This was a few years before Operation Desert Storm and many years before 9-11, and security concerns weren’t the same as they are now. So on one night when he had guard duty at one of the post’s motor pools, I accompanied him. I assume this was allowed but can’t be certain. Regardless, no one stopped us. And so I have a rather surreal and oddly romantic memory of a warm night curled up on an armored tank, watching the stars.

On visits to Austin, he’d claim there wasn’t much to do in Killeen. And so years later, I was surprised to read a story in the Austin American-Statesman about the wealth of interesting restaurants (Hawaiian! Korean! Puerto Rican! Trinidadian!) found along Rancier Avenue, an artery named “Tank Destroyer Boulevard” as it enters the Fort. I’m an adventurous eater, and fortunately my husband, Randy, usually cooperates amiably. And since last Saturday was free, we made the short trek to Killeen to explore.

The Fort is a big place and dominates the city: The official website of Fort Hood breaks down some demographics and illustrates the cultural and economic impact of the Fort’s population. According to the Comptroller’s office, the Fort has an estimated $10 billion impact on the Texas economy. With some 70,000 men and women living on post (27,000 of whom are in the military) and a total supported population numbering almost 400,000, Fort Hood is the largest active-duty armored post in the US Armed Services.

According to what I’ve read on the Internet and elsewhere, Killeen’s 8,000-strong Korean population is the result of the military’s presence in that country in the 1950s; when US servicemen returned to Killeen after the war, some brought new wives with them, and the community began to grow. So I wasn’t surprised to see numerous Korean noodle houses and barbecue joints along Rancier Avenue. And it turns out that because there’s a significant population of Pacific Islanders in Killeen (some of whom were in the service and others who wound up here after visiting relatives or friends in the service), restaurants popped up to cater to their tastes, as well.

Rancier itself—now lined with a dizzying number of barber shops, pawn shops, and military surplus stores—must have been a happening strip in the 1950s and 1960s, when the post’s population exploded. Many of the buildings still have vestiges of mid-Century architecture, but the majority look worse for wear and tear. We drove around a bit, chatting about Elvis Presley’s stint here in 1958, wondering if soldiers still had to dry-clean and press their uniforms, and debating which restaurant to try first.

I had read that the C & H Hawaiian Grill offered a raw-tuna dish called poke, which was served in a Styrofoam cup but still rivaled sashimi dishes at served high-end sushi places in Austin–so we headed there first. Turns out the owners, Cora and Hensan Timo, opened the grill in 2004 when their sons were stationed at Fort Hood.

Since it was around 3 o’clock, the place wasn’t overly busy; we ordered a few things at the counter and shared the small dining room with a few uniformed soldiers and their families. I loved the poke, which is raw ahi (tuna) marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, and green onion—but Randy thought the sesame flavor overpowered the fish. We both enjoyed the Kalua Pork with cabbage (a large portion of smoked and roasted pulled pork served with white rice), but in our opinion the most unusual dish we ordered was the Samoan plate, a combination of barbecued ribs, Polish sausage, teriyaki chicken, and a side of chicken-y, slippery noodles. The Timos know their way around a barbecue pit! We were offered a choice of bananas cooked in coconut milk or rice, and we chose the banana, which was definitely different—starchy yet a bit sweet.

We popped into a pawn shop and a surplus store, dropped by Partin’s Jamaican Bakery and Grill to pick up a menu for next time (paki-crusted plantains! Jamming jerk patties! Yabba-braised tilapia! Sambo oxtail!), then swung by the Caribbean Delight for some to-go fare from Trinidad-Tobago. Faced with a selection of such savory items as stewed chicken, oxtail, fried shark, and Indian-inspired roti, we chose an order of curried goat and another order of jerk chicken. When we were asked, “How hot can you eat it?” I responded, “Hot enough to make our scalps sweat.” The server behind the counter raised an eyebrow and squirted copious amounts of some secret ingredient into our to-go-boxes.

As we returned to Austin, the aroma in the car made my stomach growl. Later that night as we dug into leftovers, our scalps sweating and our taste-buds firing on all cylinders, we made plans for another culinary adventure in Killeen. After all, we’ve only scratched the surface.

Monday, 05 March 2012 11:14

TH Deal: Fredericksburg Herb Farm

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In the April issue, writer Ramona Flume explores the recently expanded offerings at the Fredericksburg Herb Farm, which adds lodging in 14 cottages to its roster of enticements. The new owners, Rosemary and Dick Estenson, have arranged a special deal for Texas Highways readers: Mention the Texas Highways “Special Deal,” and with the purchase of a two-night stay at the Sunday Haus Cottages, you’ll receive a coupon for a 10% discount on products at the Poet’s Haus Gift Shop. Here’s your chance to stock up on aromatherapy candles, lotions, shampoos and body scrubs, essential oils, colognes, books, and gardening items. This offer expires on December 31, 2012. See

Monday, 05 March 2012 10:31

More: Glen Rose Sanitariums

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The Snyder Sanitarium wasn’t the only health resort in Glen Rose’s history. Thanks to its famous mineral-laden water, which was thought to have healing properties, the town boasted numerous such facilities during the “mystic healing” heyday, from around 1910 through the 1930s. Author Gene Fowler covers these sanitariums as well as other fascinating Glen Rose history in his book Glen Rose, co-written with the Somervell County Historical Commission (Arcadia Publishing, 2001).


For more information about the sanitarium scene in Glen Rose and throughout Texas, read Fowler’s previous books Crazy Water: The Story of Mineral Wells and Other Texas Health Resorts (Texas Christian University Press, 1991) and Mystic Healers and Medicine Shows: Blazing Trails to Wellness in the Old West and Beyond (Ancient City Press, 1997).

—Nola McKey

Monday, 05 March 2012 10:27

Web Extra: Painted Churches

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Painted Churches: Picnics and More

Like many Catholic churches in Texas, Fayette County’s painted churches welcome visitors to the picnics and other events they host throughout summer and fall. Each church adds its own character to the music-filled, family-friendly gatherings.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ammannsville holds its picnic every year on Father’s Day. This year’s festival takes place on June 17 at the Ammannsville KJT Hall, right across from the church. Guests can participate in bingo and a live auction, eat lunch, and enjoy music that starts in the early afternoon. Children’s activities include a fish pond and other games. The lunch includes fried chicken or sausage and costs $8 for adults and $4 for children.

St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ammannsville is northeast of Schulenburg, near the intersection of FM 1383 and Mensik Rd. From Dubina, follow FM 1383 about 5 miles to Mensik Rd., and turn left. Call 979/743-3117.

The Sts. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church in Dubina hosts its Fourth of July celebration on July 1 this year. The day begins with an 8:45 a.m. Mass at the church, one of the first Czech churches in the state. Activities range from an antique tractor show to all-day polka dancing to the sounds of area bands until 9 p.m. Lunch features fried chicken, sausage, green beans, and sauerkraut over mashed potatoes.

Sts. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church in Dubina is northeast of Schulenburg, near the intersection of FM 1383 and FM 480 (Piano Bridge Rd.). From Schulenburg, go east on US 90 about 4 miles, turn left on FM 1383, drive about 2 miles to Piano Bridge Rd., and turn left. Call 979/725-6714.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Praha holds its picnic on August 15 every year. The day begins with a Mass at 10 a.m. to honor the church’s patron, Mary. A lunch follows from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and includes Praha stew and fried chicken. Plates cost $8 for adults and $4 for children. Activities include children’s games, a cakewalk, a ring toss, live music, and dancing all day. 

On November 11, St. Mary’s offers its 9:30 a.m. Mass to all veterans and hosts an 11:00 a.m. Veterans Day memorial service for all men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. The day continues with guest speakers on patriotic topics and music from the Schulenburg Secondary School band. A fried-chicken lunch begins at 11:30 a.m. Adult plates cost $7.50 and children’s plates $4.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Praha is west of Schulenburg, on FM 1295. From Schulenburg, go west on US 90 about 10 miles, turn left on FM 1295, and drive about a half mile. Call 361/596-4674;


On September 2, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in High Hill hosts its annual Labor Day picnic. The day starts with a Polka Mass at 10 a.m. A lunch immediately follows, and includes fried chicken, stew, vegetables, and peaches. The meal costs $8. Local businesses and parishioners also donate various items for a live auction. In 2011, the church auctioned off around 7,300 items. Activities include bingo, train rides for the kids, a raffle, and music all day. The day finishes with a bang—fireworks begin at 10:00 p.m.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church in High Hill is northwest of Schulenburg, near the intersection of High Hill Rd. and FM 2672. From Schulenburg, go west on US 90 less than 2 miles, turn right on FM 2672, and drive 2.5 miles. Call 979/743-3117 (Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ammannsville takes calls for this church, too);

—Claire Ronner

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