Forgotten Landmark-Blue River Highway Bridge, Old U.S. 70, Blue, OK

Blue River Highway Bridge, Old U.S. Highway 70, southwest of Blue, Oklahoma

U.S. Highway 70 parallels the route of the St. Louis & San Francisco (Frisco Railroad).  Prior to the creation of the Federal Highway System in 1926, this route was referred to as the Bankhead Highway, a segment of the Rand McNally Auto Trails system.  The Bankhead Highway traversed the southern United States, beginning in Washington D.C. and traveling through Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas, and Phoenix to San Diego. West of Little Rock, Arkansas, the Bankhead Highway ran in two parallel routes.  The northerly route followed U.S. 70 from Little Rock to Roswell, New Mexico.


courtesy of

courtesy of


The highway bridge in the photos below is located along a portion of the old U.S. Highway 70, whose route travels south of the current route between Bokchito and Hugo.  This bridge was constructed in 1921 by the General Construction Company of St. Louis under the direction of the Federal Aid Project.  During 1921, 162 miles of highway were constructed by the state under the Federal Aid. and 32 miles were built by counties.  The total estimated cost was $4,847,000.


Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River


Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2090) at Blue River

A similar bridge was constructed over Caddo Creek, east of the town of Blue (photos below).

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

Old U.S. 70 (County Road E2080) at Caddo Creek

American Trails Revisited–Texas’ Chisholm Trail (Spanish Fort)

Spanish Fort, TX

Spanish Fort Vicinity Today

Google Maps 7/26/2015

The present site of the community of Spanish Fort was the scene of one of the decisive battles of early Texas history. As early as 1700, the French were active along the Red River, and in 1719 Bernard de la Harpe established on the south bank of the river, on the site of the principal village of the Caddoes, an outpost which he called Fort St. Louis de Carlorette. It served as a traders’ and trappers’ supply station but was abandoned after a few years. In 1759 Colonel Diego Ortiz Parrilla, advancing from San Antonio and San Saba, came upon Indians entrenched behind a stout stockade, over which flew the French flag. His report described the fort as consisting of high oval-shaped structures, surrounded by a ditch and a log stockade. Armed by the French, the Indians soundly defeated Parilla and sent him back in hasty retreat. Under the treaty of Fontainebleau in 1762, the French ceded Louisiana Territory to Spain, and abandoned their western outpost. Spanish exploration parties and patrols visited the site from time to time until as late as 1800. Then all reports of the old post ceased until its ruins were found in 1859. The description of the ruins of that date correspond remarkably with the data of Parrilla 100 years before. Today, hardly discernible mounds are all that remain.


Spanish Fort Vicinity

Railroad Map of Texas 1884

American Trails Revisited–Texas’ Chisholm Trail (Introduction)

The following is a portion from a new travel guide, Texas’ Chisholm Trail, in my American Trails Revisited series (available for the Amazon Kindle and other eBook formats).   In the coming months, I will post portions of this guide as I develop it for publication.

Background from Texas-A Guide to the Lone Star State (published in 1940 by the Federal Works Agency, Work Projects Administration, and Texas State Highway Commission):

“The first cattle known to have entered Texas were 500 cows brought by Coronado in 1541. Many of the explorers, fearing a food shortage in an unknown land, brought livestock. Some of these cattle escaped and wandered through the wilderness, to become the nucleus of vast wild herds. The Spanish colonists found a natural pasto, or pasture, covering southwest Texas. Reynosa, in 1757, with a population of 269, had 18,000 head of cattle. De Mezieres (1779) reported that a fat cow was worth only four pesos, yet the ranches flourished. Herds were driven to market in Louisiana by Spanish ranchers in defiance of customs laws. Thus, probably the first smuggling in the State was that of cattle. Owners marked their stock when possible, but most of the cattle were unbranded. The wild herds were not molested by the Indians, who preferred the meat of the buffalo.

It was in east Texas that modern ranching began. James Taylor White, the first real Anglo-American cattleman, established the first ranch of the modern type near Turtle Bayou in Chambers County.  Other ranchers followed White to east Texas. They drove their herds to New Orleans to market, using the Old Beef Trail and others. Hides and tallow still had more value than beef. The most important event to pioneer Texas cattlemen was the introduction of Brahma or Zebu cattle from India, a variety scientifically designated as Bos Indicus and differing radically from the European variety of Bos Taurus. It was not until after the Civil War that Brahmas were secured in large numbers. The first record of a successful crossing of these cattle with native stock was in 1874 when Captain Mifflin Kenedy experimented with his herds. Fever ticks had been a barrier to the introduction of Hereford, Shorthorn and other beef breeds in the coastal and southern area. The Brahmas and cattle produced by crossing them with other breeds proved to be immune from tick fever, and were also better beef cattle. As ticks have never been eradicated from some sections, Brahma blood is still essential to the State’s livestock industry.

By 1860, there were more than three million head of cattle in Texas. The Union blockade prevented the shipment of large herds to supply the Confederate army, and at the close of the Civil War the State was overrun with cattle, many of them wild. Longhorns were almost worthless in 1866. Range animals sold for $3 and $4 a head, although in the North butchers were paying from $30 to $40 a head for beeves. Everyone had cattle and nobody had wealth.

And in Texas, especially in the brush country, wild native stock had flourished. Here the Texas cowboy had emerged. There also were    (cowpunchers, from vaca, meaning cow), who were Mexicans. Both of these classes of cowboys had learned to pursue “strays” through the densest thickets. The term “maverick” had come into being as a synonym for unbranded cattle, and there were countless herds of longhorns, too valueless to be branded. Obviously, the thing to do was to drive the herds to shipping points. Yet the nearest railroads were in Kansas and Missouri, 1,000 to 1,500 miles distant.

A few adventurous spirits led the way across those untried miles to the railheads, in the late sixties. Trails, some of them bearing the names of the men who blazed them, came into being, such as the Chisholm Trail. Abilene, Kansas, became a roaring cowtown, followed by Dodge City and other shipping points that sprang up in the wake of the mighty movement of cattle. No other industry in the Southwest had such economic significance or such picturesque aspects. The driving of herds caused towns, customs, and a distinct type of people to grow up beside the trails. About five million Texas cattle were driven to market during the 15 years of trail driving, yet when the railroads reached Texas and the drives were no longer necessary, there were more cattle in the State than when the drives began.”


Forgotten Landmark–Tracks of Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway, Mineral Well, TX

Tracks of Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway (NW 2nd Avenue, between NW 4th and NW 7th Streets)



The gasoline-powered “Dinky cars” of the Mineral Wells Lakewood Park Scenic Railway provided service from Mineral Wells to Lake Pinto. There were four cars used, including “Ben Hur” and “Esther”. This railway operated from 1905 until 1909. (Current track photos below text)

The Mineral Wells & Lakewood Park Railway was chartered on March 1st, 1907, and began operating on May 12th, 1907. The railway operated on 2.5 miles of track, with a gauge of 4 feet and 8 ½ inches, using electricity.

The Mineral Wells Electric System operated two electric street cars in the city of Mineral Wells from 1907 to 1913; one on Hubbard Street from NE 17th Avenue to SW 6th Avenue (later part of the Bankhead Highway), and one on Oak (now NW 2nd) Avenue from NE 17th Street to SE 11th Street, thence Southwest to Elmhurst Park. However, two gasoline-powered 70 passenger (all-passenger) motor cars were operated by the Weatherford, Mineral Wells and Northwestern Railroad (WMW&NW) between Graford, Mineral Wells, Ft. Worth and Dallas from 1912 to 1935. An electric interurban line was not built.

Streetcar Tracks at NW 7th Mineral Wells P1010306 P1010305


Forgotten Landmark-Taylor & Howard Building, Leigh, TX

P1010219 P1010220

Leigh (10.6 miles north of U.S. 80 on FM 134 at FM 1999)

Leigh, also known as Antioch, is on a site said to have been the location of a large Indian village. In the early 1840s, J. J. Webster built a plantation home, Mimosa Hall, a mile southwest of the site; Webster’s descendants occupied the house until 1984, when the property was sold. The community of Antioch, which had a predominantly black population, was founded before 1900 and was centered on the Antioch Baptist Church. In 1900, the forerunner of the Louisiana & Arkansas Railway was built through Antioch, and Reverend James Patterson built a restaurant and a general store on land adjoining the railroad. Residents of Blocker, three miles to the northeast, moved to the railroad community. Antioch was renamed Leigh in 1901, after the wife of John W. Furrh, who owned much of the land on the railroad, and that same year the Leigh post office opened. In 1904, Leigh had one school with five white students and four schools with 297 black students. By 1914, the community had a population of fifty, three general stores, two cotton gins, a drugstore, a blacksmith shop, and telephone service. After attaining a peak population of 126 in the 1920s, Leigh declined to 100 in 1930, when it had a church, two schools, and three businesses. The railroad was rerouted to the north in the 1950s. By 1978, Leigh had two churches (St. Paul’s Episcopal and Antioch Baptist), a community center, the Antioch Cemetery, and a number of dwellings.[i]

[i] Leigh, TX; Texas State Historical Association;


Point of Interest:

Mimosa Hall (9.4 miles north of U.S. 80 on FM 134) (Private)

Virginia-born John Johnston Webster (1796-1854) brought his family to the Republic of Texas, petitioning for land on which to establish a home in 1842.  Built in 1844, Mimosa Hall was part of a 3,000 acre plantation. The estate and one-hundred and fifty acres that went along with it was deeded to Douglas V. Blocker within a partition deed in 1932.  Blocker continued to own the property until 1984 when he sold it to Michael Howard. At some point, Michael Howard deeded the property to his son Nicholas Leon Howard III, who then deeded it to his mother, Virginia Dyke Hamilton in 1989.  Virginia sold the home in 1993 to the present owners, Andrew and Katherine Ann Hirsch. The Hirsch family have maintained the home and kept it in pristine condition. The front façade remains in its original state but the remainder of the home has had many changes throughout the years as well as a rear addition which was built on in 1932.[ii]

In 1844, Webster’s son-in-law, the Reverend George F. Heard, became the first person to be buried in the cemetery at Mimosa Hall Plantation. He was followed by Mrs. Mirriam (Brown) Webster. Other notable graves include those of the Reverend William Moore Steele and five Webster slaves or ex-slaves. Veterans of several wars also are interred here. The wall surrounding the oldest graves was constructed by plantation labor.  The cemetery is located southwest of the house on private land.

[ii] Mimosa Hall; Stephen F. Austin University Center for Regional Heritage Research;

Forgotten Landmark–Former Hotel de Ville and Museum,Dieppe, Normandy, France

Hotel de Ville and Museum4



Former Hotel de Ville and Museum (5-6 Boulevard de Verdun)

This structure housed paintings, local curiosities, and a collection of furniture, autographs, and sketches presented in 1889 by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921), the composer.


This post is the first in a series as we develop a new set of historic travel guides to northwestern France, based on earlier guides such as Muirhead’s North-Western France (1926) and Murray’s A Handbook for Travellers in France (1899)





Forgotten Landmark-Decatur Water Works, Decatur, GA


Decatur Water Works–Mason Mill Park, 1340 McConnell Drive, Decatur, GA.

Below is a record of the first development of the Decatur Water Works from the Atlanta Constitution (March 17th, 1907)

Atlanta firm gets contract — Walton & Mangum will install Decatur waterworks machinery

“At the called meeting of the town council of Decatur on Monday evening the contract was let to Walton & Mangum, at Atlanta, for the installation of the machinery for the waterworks, the building for the pumping plant and the laying of the pipe line at a cost of $10,000. The work is to be completed by October 1.”

Located in the southern end of Mason Mill Park, this site was certified as a historic location on Wednesday March 15th, 2006.  Although covered with extensive graffiti, a large part of the waterworks’ structure is still present.


We Support–Dunwoody Preservation Trust, Dunwoody, GA

Dunwoody Preservation Trust (DPT) was founded in 1994 with organization funding provided by Dunwoody Homeowners Association. It is a 501(c)3 organization chartered to preserve the history and heritage of Dunwoody through various means. These include acquisition and/or underwriting the maintenance of historically significant properties, documenting historical and current happenings, providing education on Dunwoody’s past and contributing  to the general beautification and functionality of Dunwoody.

In fulfilling these roles, DPT has been responsible for saving the Cheek-Spruill Farmhouse in the center of Dunwoody and converting it into an event facility. Additionally, in 2005 DPT took the idea of acquiring the historical Donaldson-Bannister House and Farm to DeKalb County officials. This multi-building three-acre property in the heart of Dunwoody became available and DPT designed an acquisition plan with its owners and the County that resulted in preserving this property for future generations. Now, the Donaldson-Bannister Farm is owned by the City of Dunwoody and was the benefactor of the funds raised during Lemonade Days 2012. The DPT has been successful in placing both the Cheek-Spruill Farmhouse and Donaldson Bannister House —
as well as the Isaac Roberts House on Roberts Drive — with the National Register of Historic Places.

Other activities that DPT has spearheaded over the years include the “Replant The Dunwoody Forest” program after the 1998 tornado that resulted in raising more than $250,000 and planting over 25,000 trees to begin the recovery of the natural resources that were lost. DPT researched and compiled The Story of Dunwoody 1821-2001, a 500+ page chronicling of our heritage, and The Silent Storytellers, a 250+ page book identifying over 4000 historical gravesites in Dunwoody. DPT has also produced a thirty minute DVD entitled Dunwoody: the History & Heritage – 1821-2003. These publications and productions provide opportunities to expand awareness of our history and heritage. Additionally, DPT led the effort and assisted in the funding of the tree
planting and landscaping of Ashford Center Parkway.

DPT has also assumed the responsibility for the maintenance of New Hope Cemetery where a number of early settlers and Confederate soldiers are buried. DPT was also actively involved with DeKalb County to ensure that a master land use plan developed for Brook Run Park preserved the integrity of the natural beauty of this 102 acre area. This included incorporating venues and activity opportunities needed in the North DeKalb area such as the inclusion of a plan for a world class playground which was opened in October 2005.

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