Thursday, December 8, 2011

Passport toTexas History - Washington On The Brazos

Sunday evening, November 14th, our family is seated around the table enjoying supper. It is about 6:45 pm.. Talk turns to the trip we need to take to complete our Passports to Texas History. The Passports must be completed by December 31st to be eligible to receive the commemorative gift. Referring to the calendar hanging on the wall nearby, we discard one week, then another. How in the world will we find time to complete our passports???  “Why don’t we leave tonight?”

Kirk’s casual question, half in jest, began a flurry of preparation! At 7:20 pm we waved good-bye to Dad and headed out with a general plan in mind. (Believe it or not, we didn’t forget a thing!)

Monday morning we arrived early at the Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park. This park encompasses three sites: Washington-on-the-Brazos, The Barrington Living History Farm, and The Star of the Republic Museum. I will report now, that my photos are limited, as I dropped my camera while feeding the chickens at the Barrington Farm.
Chickens – 1, Camera – 0

I’ll share about the farm and Museum in later posts, since the Passport to Texas History part of the park is Independence Hall in Washington-on-the-Brazos. I completely forgot to take photos of our tour. But you really don’t miss much by not seeing photos, because there isn’t much left at WashingtonOTB. At one time it was a bustling boom town because it is situated where the Brazos and Navasota Rivers converge. A man by the name of Andrew Robinson built a ferry here. Eventually a hotel was built, then a town grew at this site. When the railroad proposed to come through WashingtonOTB, they flatly refused to allow it. Who needed some newfangled, fly-by-night form of transportation when they had the never to be replaced Ferry – a trusted and reliable, never to go out of style form of crossing the river? Well as you can imagine, WashingtonOTB didn’t last much longer.
Gorgeous weather, a playground, and peanut butter and jelly - what's not to smile about?

By 1911, it had almost disappeared from history. School children in the area were learning about Texas Independence and learned that they lived near the exact spot where the Declaration of Texas Independence had been signed. They began to raise money and purchased a monument to mark the spot where it was believed Independence Hall had stood. Later a structure to replicate Independence Hall was built, based on sketches and written descriptions from the men who signed the Declaration.
We're Texans - I suppose this is a bit of Texas History now too. ~grin~

Independence Hall wasn’t actually a government building at the time, it was a gun shop. I don’t believe it had opened for business yet, but the owner offered it as a place for the men to meet. A ‘blue norther’ hit the area and temperatures plummeted, but the men remained at work until every matter had been handled. They lived in tents and shanties and met in a drafty open building to create a government for the new country – The Republic of Texas.
Lady or Little Girl? - Thank goodness you don't have to decide at 13.

The park has little to see in terms of historical buildings so most of the tour requires your imagination, but it is a beautiful walk. Our tour consisted of us and the tour guide. There were only about 4 other guests in the whole park. He walked us through the former town site, helping us visualize the town as it had been (right now it is merely a gravel path, trees, grass and a sign or two. Other than the replica Independence Hall, there is one structure and it is original - It is a well.

We were disappointed when we arrived at the river. Normally the river is clearly divided, with one side being muddy (the Brazos) and opaque and the other clear (Navasota)  as can be. Today, though it was windy and the channels were mixed together making it just one muddy river.

Unfortunately, I never thought to take a picture until the tour was over and we were at the playground eating lunch - so you’ll have to use your imagination just like we did!

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