A Great Museum and a Sunken Whale Ship

There is no greater community connection to the old whaling industry than Nantucket Massachusetts. Nantucket’s citizenry as well as it’s merchants were thriving whether the general economy was booming or sluggish. Whale oil was in great demand throughout the world for this was the fuel used to light homes and streets.

whaling in the 1800s

Hunting the sperm whale

Nantucket Whaling Museum

Nantucket has one of the finest museums you’ll find anywhere that portrays the story of the whaling industry… it’s sailors, ships, captains, methods, dangers and economic impact.

The Nantucket Whaling Museum is a must stop for anyone planning a visit to this scenic island. The museum is located at 13 Broad Street and is operated by the Nantucket Historical Association. The museum is dedicated to the history of whaling. This is where you can relive the time when a small town launched wooden ships into the Atlantic Ocean for the start of their long trips around Cape Horn and into the Pacific Ocean.

The Strange and Tragic Tale of the Whale Ship Essex

From all the stories of the great whale ships that called Nantucket home, the tragic tale of the whale ship Essex demonstrates just how dangerous this profession was in the early 1800’s. The sequence of events that befell the Essex and it’s crew is unique to all other whaling stories and was responsible for later novels being written. It’s a hair raising and shocking story of being stranded literally in the middle of nowhere and running out of food.

whale ship essex

The whale ship Essex

A Whaler’s Life

A whaler could depart on a ship from Nantucket Island and literally be away working at sea for a few years. If he had a family they could be without him for possibly years. Whaling was a very unique occupation.

Typically a captain would be hired by the ship’s investors and be responsible for signing up a crew. If he was fortunate the captain might find experienced sailors around Nantucket. If an experienced crew wasn’t available, and there was a shortage, then recruiting green sailors from further inland was necessary.The ship would be provisioned by it’s owners and any pay the captain and crew would receive would be a share of the profits at the end of the voyage. Size of shares were entirely dependent on the rank and function of the crew mate. The largest shares of course went to the investors and then the captain.

The Pacific Sperm Whale

1800’s whalers were especially hunting for the Pacific Sperm whale. They were killed primarily for their excellent oil. This whale oil was used not only in lighting but also in cosmetics, soap and a variety of products.

During the 1800’s the job of killing whales was done from smaller whaleboats launched from the side of the larger whale ship. The whaler crews would use harpoons to grab the mammal. The whale would pull the whale boat by the harpoon’s line and eventually tire at which time the sailors would kill it with lances. The entire endeavor was dangerous. The small whaleboat could be capsized easily and at only a moments notice. Additionally, it was known that sperm whales rather than fleeing underwater after being harpooned might very well turn around and attack the whaleboat.

owen chase essex whaleboat crewman

Owen Chase, First Mate of the Essex crew

The Attack on the Essex

There have been several writings on the attack of the Essex. Probably the most comprehensive account of the attack, aftermath and 1800’s Nantucket whaling life in general is… In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by author Nathaniel Philbrick. Another is, Shipwreck of the Whaleship Essex by author Owen Chase. It’s also common knowledge that Herman Melville used the Essex incident as a model for his latter chapters in his book Moby Dick.

The crew of the Essex had been having good luck harpooning sperm whales during November of 1820 in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This area was some 2,000 miles off the west coast of South America. On November 20th things changed dramatically. This was over one year since the Essex had departed Nantucket Island in August 1819 and the unthinkable happened.

The Essex was attacked and rammed, not once but twice, by a sperm whale that appeared to come from the area where other female sperm whales had been successfully harpooned and lanced just prior. It was said that this bull sperm whale seemed to have a purpose in it’s attack. It was if this bull whale was enraged by the killing of the female whales and wished to take revenge out on the large mother ship the Essex. The ship that the harpoon crews went back to.

moby dick whale attack

Moby Dick whale attack illustration

Although the Essex was not a new ship it was not a poorly made vessel either. The force required by this bull sperm whale would have had to be tremendous to push over the hull of the 87 foot ship. It was speculated that the whale had to have been nearly as long as the ship. This prolonged attack caused the Essex to go over on her side with her sails in the water. The crew left the floundering vessel using their whaleboats which were few. The Essex had been short two whaleboats due to earlier storms and the evacuation was a crowded one. Twenty crew in all crowded, along with provisions, on the three small whaleboats.

After two nights and after several sailors returned to the Essex to grab hold of as many provisions as they could take onto the small whaleboats they left the sinking vessel. What transpired next over several months pushed men to the breaking point and beyond.

Marooned on a Pacific Island and Eventual Rescue

Because of earlier reports concerning Native cannibalism on some Pacific islands, the Essex crew was particular as to which island chain they would try to reach with their primitive whaleboat sailing vessels. After one month in these small boats, hungry, tossed around and beaten by the harsh sun, they finally reached land. It was a small island and while it did at first supply some needed food, the provisions didn’t last. Another move had to be made.

After some time the survivors set sail from the island (Henderson) on two whaleboats. After a while the two boats separated and went their own way. In February of 1821, some 95 days after the sinking of the Essex, a boat carrying the captain and three other crew members were picked up by another whale ship out of Nantucket just off the west coast of South America. They had survived their ordeal by consuming the remains of other crew members who had died or were executed on the boat. The second boat was never heard from again.

Three men had stayed back on the island and were later rescued. It was also later said that lots had been drawn on the captain’s boat as to who would be sacrificed and who would be the executioner. The entire story shocked Nantucket when word reached there.

In total there were eight survivors of the original crew from Nantucket. Four from the captain’s boat, three rescued later off Henderson Island and another who had deserted the ship when the Essex visited South America prior to the whale attack and sinking.

Links below are to additional Trips Into History articles you may also find interesting…

The Tragic Sinking of the General Slocum off New York

The Loss of the SS Wexford on the Great Lakes

The G.P. Griffith Passenger Steamer Disaster

Visit the Historic Paul Revere House in Boston MA

whaling harpoons

Types of whaling harpoons of the 1800’s

Visiting the Nantucket Whaling Museum

As mentioned above, visiting this museum is a trip back into the days when whaling made Nantucket. A great many ships left Nantucket during the 1800’s hunting the whale. It was how one made a living in Nantucket.

This museum will take you back to that time when an entire town’s economy depended on the whaling industry. Exhibits at the museum include a large amount of nautical items, captain’s journals and a very interesting video and it’s really a not to be missed museum.

I would also highly recommend any of the books mentioned earlier in this article. The story of the Essex tells what can happen when disaster strikes far from civilization and what ordinary people can and will resort to when trying to survive. It’s a shocking and enlightening true story.

Nantucket is a very scenic and historic place to visit and a stop to the Nantucket Whaling Museum is a great addition to any trip there.

(Article copyright 2013 Trips Into History. Photos and images in the public domain)

 

 

 

 

Tour Inside a Caboose

That rail car we used to see at the end of a freight train has quite a history. Much has been written about the great steam locomotives but there was that other rail car, often painted red but can also be seen in other colors, called the caboose.

The caboose as we know it is really a part of North American railroads and were not seen much at all in other countries.

mkt caboose

MKT Caboose 215

The caboose was the only car on a freight train that had a kitchen and sleeping accommodations for the crew as well as storage space and office facilities. In fact, at one time Federal law mandated that every freight train have a caboose at the rear for safety. The caboose would typically have a red light at it’s rear signifying the end of the train. The early caboose typically carried a conductor, brakeman and flagman.

At one time a caboose was, like other rail cars, made of wood. When steel was used for rail car construction the caboose was the last car to be converted to the steel.

Where did it’s name originate from? When was a caboose first used on a train? Why don’t we still use them today?

caboose conductor desk

Caboose conductor's desk

There are more than one story of how the caboose was named a caboose. One theory has to do with sailors building wooden boxes around fires on deck to keep warm. The Dutch called such structures “kabuis“. Other languages had other terms. The German’s called the structure a “kabuse“. There were different terms used for these rail cars even in the U.S. In the east what we refer to as the caboose was called a “way car” or a “brakeman’s cab“, a “crew car” or even a “shanty“. It appears that only in the western U.S. was the term “caboose” used almost exclusively. By the simple spelling of the word “caboose” it’s fairly assumed that the word was a derived from the Europeans.

What we call a caboose, the rail car with a cupola on the top, actually looked very different in the beginning. Sometimes they were simply redesigned box cars. Others were flat cars with a shanty in the middle and hand rails on either end.These were the first type of caboose used during the early 1800’s.

caboose cupola seat

Caboose Cupola seat and phone

The Cupola

The standard caboose in America, the one we most commonly refer to, has a cupola in the middle of the car’s roof. One source gives the credit for the building of the first cupola to a conductor on the Chicago & North Western during the 1860’s. Some sources however state that the cupola didn’t come until 1898. Nevertheless, the story about the 1860’s conductor was that he would need to stick his head through a hole in the caboose roof to view the train. He thought of the cupola design at the same time he was sticking his head through the roof a crude caboose while propped up by boxes.

The cupola offered a perch for observation. In fact it offered a 360 degree vista. History tells us that this conductor was able to convince the railroad’s shop to construct an enclosed structure that would be permanent. Thus the cupola became fairly standard from that point on. The cupola made it possible for the train’s conductor to see over the roofs of all the freight cars all the way forward to the locomotive.In essence the view from the caboose made it possible to monitor the freight cars as the trains were becoming longer and longer.

inside caboose

Caboose cooking stove

Actually, there was some difference of opinion as to exactly where the cupola should be located. Some preferred it in the middle, some near the rear of the roof and others near the front. As a result you might come across a vintage caboose that has the cupola not exactly in the middle. Don’t be surprised to see “bay window caboose’s“. These are rail cars with protruding structures on the side which also offer good observation of the entire train.

The Last Days of the Caboose

During the 1920’s it was estimated that over 34,000 caboose’s were running over America’s railroads. The trend however was going down in as much that by 1970 only about 14,000 were being used.

The caboose was the victim of simple labor cost cutting on Class 1 rail lines. During the heyday of the caboose a freight train crew typically had five crewmen. This would consist of three in the locomotive and two in the caboose. Today, typically on mainline freight trains there are two in the locomotive and at some times maybe three.

katy railorad caboose

MKT Caboose entrance

Today, technology has implemented wayside inspection which checks for things like hot wheels, bearing problems, brake line pressure, movement of the last car and shifting loads.

This is all done electronically and is sent via radio over the mainline channel which is monitored by the engineer. A flashing device and camera on the freight train’s rear end performs the same service that two crewmen might have performed decades earlier. The device at the train’s rear is referred to as FRED. This stands for  “flashing rear end device” and is attached to the last car’s rear coupler and to the trains air brake system.

The railroads were successful in eliminating the caboose law by demonstrating that technological advancements could perform the same service as a caboose crew.

See additional Trips Into History articles on the links below…

The Legendary Union Pacific Big Boy Locomotive

Three Historic Train Rides

The Santa Fe Railroad and Santa Fe

ennis texas railroad museum

Ennis Railroad and Cultural Museum

The Caboose 215

The interior caboose photos featured in this article are from the old MKT 215. This was a caboose of the old Katy Railroad and was rebuilt from Katy’s caboose number 12. This rebuilt caboose had an extended vision cupola and a new window configuration. This was the last caboose rebuilt by the Katy in their Kansas shop.

Caboose construction however did continue right up until the early 1980’s. By the 1990’s the caboose turned into a colorful and historic part of American railroading which was eliminated by FRED. What caboose’s a railroad might employ today are largely seen around rail yards as general purpose cars.

The MKT 215 caboose featured in this article is on permanent display in Ennis Texas outside the Ennis Railroad and Cultural Museum. Ennis Texas is located about 35 miles south/southeast of Dallas along Interstate 45.

For railroad enthusiasts who happen to be traveling in beautiful Sonoma County California, there is an old wood North Pacific Coast Railroad caboose on permanent display in Duncan Mills California. Duncan Mills is a small settlement just in from the Pacific Ocean coastline on CA Rte 116 about a 78 mile drive north of San Francisco and a 25 mile drive west of Santa Rosa.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 Trips Into History)

Things That Can Go Wrong on a Cattle Drive

 

xit ranch cowboys

Nineteenth century photo of XIT Ranch cowboys

There may not have been any more challenging task for the old west rancher than the cattle drive. The cattle drive after all was how the rancher transported his herd to the rail heads for shipment east. The successful cattle drive ended with a substantial payday. Cowboys were paid and the rancher hopefully made a good profit.

Work on the cattle drive by the cowboy was not easy. Having to sleep on the prairie ground in all weather for weeks at a time could be grueling. One improvement for sure was when famed Texas Panhandle rancher Charles Goodnight developed the chuckwagon out of a military surplus Studebaker wagon after the Civil War.

cattle drive structure
Cattle Drive structure. lead

The Structure of the Cattle Drive

A trail boss will be at the front end of the herd. Cowboys will serve a variety of functions mostly to help keep the herd together and heading in the right direction.

Cowboys ride the point position which means they ride near the front of the herd on either side close to the lead steer. Some of the more experienced men were in this position.

The swing riders ride at a distance behind the point riders to turn the herd in the right direction.

Behind them are the flank riders. These cowboys are positioned to keep the herd from spreading out too far.

cattle drive diagram
Cattle Drive Structure, rear

Behind the flank riders and at the end of the herd are the drag riders. Drag riders work to keep the herd moving along.

In addition to these cowboys is the wrangler. The wrangler tends to the extra horses brought along on the drive. These horse are referred to by the Spanish word ‘remuda“. The wrangler could also be referred to as a “remudero“. A remuda is simply a herd of horses that cowboys choose their mounts from and travel along with the drive.

A typical late 1800’s cattle drive might employ a dozen cowboys in addition to the trail boss. The trail boss might be the ranch owner or might not be. So many of the large western ranches had overseas investors, mostly from England and Scotland, the trail boss was likely to be a top tier employee or ranch manager. The trail boss needed to be experienced and a good guide because he would be in charge of the herd and the cowboys along for the drive. The trail boss would decide when to start and where to stop at days end.

chuckwagon photo

Chuckwagon exhibit with supplies

Last but certainly not least was the cook and the chuckwagon. The cook was often given the nickname “cooksie” or “cookie” and might actually take charge of the drive if something were to happen to the trail boss.

Length of Cattle Drive

Cattle drives out of Texas after the Civil War could easily involve thousands of head of cattle. Three thousand head would not be considered overly large.

Cattle drives weren’t fast moving but considering the amount of cattle they would travel ten or more miles per day which wasn’t bad. Depending on the distance to a rail head and considering any unforeseen delays the drive might take a month but typically two months or even more.

Trouble on the Drive

There was a wide variety of difficulties and trouble that could plague a cattle drive. The herd alone could stretch out for perhaps two miles in length. There were plenty of things that can go wrong on a cattle drive.

Just one of these was weather. Who could predict weather with any accuracy in 1885? A thunder clap could cause a herd to stampede, one of the worse things to occur on a drive. A simple sneeze or a sudden horse move could set a herd off in all directions. In addition to the extra time involved in gathering up a herd after a stampede, a cowboy could be injured or killed by falling under a stampede.

texas branding irons

Old Texas branding irons

Crossing rivers was mandatory to reach rail heads. A cowboy and/or cattle could be lost to drowning. It was up to the trail boss to locate a suitable place to ford.

One such major river crossing for the Great Western Cattle Trail, sometimes referred to as the Western Cattle Trail or Texas Trail, was located on the Red River between Texas and the then Indian Territory. This was known as Doan’s Crossing and is located about twenty miles north of Vernon Texas. Today this crossing is commemorated with historical markers. See our Doan’s Crossing photo article on our Western Trips site.

Sickness was an ever present menace while on the trail. For the most part the herd was driven away from settlements and medical help could be slim to none. Home remedies were the treatment of necessity.

Indians could also interfere with the cattle drive. If Native Americans were to attack a cattle drive the reason would most likely be to steal beef. Buffalo hunters with their Sharps rifles did permanent damage to the wild bison herds and the need for beef was real. Aside for attacking cowboys on cattle drives to obtain meat, Indians might use the raid to teach their young the art of warfare and to prove bravery.

One of the most publicized Indian attacks on ranchers occurred in eastern New Mexico when Oliver Loving, partner of rancher Charles Goodnight, was severely wounded by Native Americans in September 1867. Loving survived the attack and made it wounded to Fort Sumner New Mexico where he died of gangrene.

Oliver Loving, whose name is part of the historic Goodnight-Loving Trail, was inducted into the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

doans crossing texas

Monument at historic Doan's Crossing on the Red River in Texas

Rustlers could also add to theft on the trail. Rustling was real and was a capital offense. Cowboys would need to be on lookout especially at night to ward off any rustlers.

Large ranchers in many cases employed range detectives.

Rattlesnakes, and there were and are plenty in the west, could cause a herd to stampede. They could either cause the stampede directly with the cattle or cause a cowhand’s horse to react in such a way as to spook the herd. A rattlesnake bite to a cowboy was always a possibility.

Wildfires. Wildfires, range fires or prairie fires could be deadly to both cowboy and animal. The major cause of these fires were lightning and obviously unpredictable.

When the nineteenth century came to a close, railroads had laid track to most of the formerly inaccessible areas of the country and the need for long cattle drives vanished. Today, cattle are transported by truck and railroad and the need for the point, swing, flank and drag cowboy changed with the times.

You may also enjoy the related Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Charles Goodnight and the Chuckwagon

Old Santa Fe Trail Wagon Ruts in New Mexico

Studebaker’s Frontier Wagons

We’ve found several good books on the subject of cattle drives, ranchers and ranching. They include…

The Cowboy by author Philip Ashton Rollins

The Cattle Kings by author Lewis Atherton

Charles Goodnight: Father of the Texas Panhandle by author William T. Hagan.

cowboy statue

Cowboy statue at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK

Experience a Cattle Drive Today

While the old west cattle drive is a part of history, there still remains opportunities for the adventurous traveler to experience what life was like on the open range.

For those visiting the Fort Worth Texas area, a small cattle drive is held twice daily at the Fort Worth Stockyards. The stockyards are located off of N. Main Street just a few miles north of the central business district.

Several dude ranches in Wyoming can also give you a good taste of being a cowboy. Check out the Double Rafter Cattle Drives in Ranchester Wyoming and also Two Creeks Ranch located near Douglas Wyoming.

The website www..equitours.com features cattle drive vacations in both the U.S. and abroad. Information on a cattle drive that takes place in Australia can be found at website www.australia.com/explore/events/sa-outback-cattle-drive.aspx

Also, check out the summer cattle drives held every June, July and August in Alberta Canada. More information is found on website www..southernalberta.worldweb.com/MountainView/ToursActivities/CattleDrives/

(Article copyright 2013 Trips Into History. Cattle drive diagrams courtesy TX DOT. XIT cowboys photo from the public domain. Remaining photos from Trips Into History Collection)

The Legendary Union Pacific Big Boy

There was a time when the large steam locomotives pulled people and freight all over the great expanses of the American West. Some of these great locomotives found a place in history and there is perhaps no better one than the “Big Boy” series of 4-8-8-4 steam engine.

The Big Boy locomotives represent some of the largest ever manufactured. The Union Pacific Railroad has done an excellent job in working to preserve their old equipment for historical purposes.

Old Union Pacific Locomotive 4018

The ALCO 4000 Locomotives Built for the Union Pacific Railroad

The Union Pacific Railroad acquired twenty-five of these massive six hundred ton locomotives and today several are on display around the U.S.

The locomotives were 132 feet in length from the front of the cowcatcher to the end of the tender car. They were built to pull a 3,600 ton train and pull it over steep mountain grades. The National Defense Act during the early 1940’s encouraged the building of ever more powerful locomotives.  When you stand next to a 4000 series locomotive it will look larger than you may ever had imagined.

Reportedly there are eight of these steam engines that have survived to this date. A side note is that the Union Pacific was the only railroad purchasing these coal fired steam engines which were manufactured between 1941 and 1944 by the American Locomotive Company commonly referred to as ALCO. ALCO, established in 1901, also got into the automobile building business in 1906 but exited in 1913.

Another interesting side note about the American Locomotive Company was while they acquired a lot of fame for their powerful steam locomotives such as with the 4000 Series, the company produced the first commercial diesel-electric locomotive in 1924.

One set of Big Boy Locomotive drive wheels

ALCO 4-8-8-4 Classification Locomotive

The 4-8-8-4 is a classification regarding wheel arrangement. In this instance, there are four leading wheels, two sets of eight driving wheels and a set of four trailing wheels. The 4000 series of ALCO locomotives could keep a speed of some 70 MPH which was obviously considered quite fast and they were steady riders.

The speed and traction power made these 4000 locomotives important especially during the war years when cargo and troop transportation was crucial. The role of the 4-8-8-4 locomotives was simply to haul more gross tonnage at a higher speed and without helper engines. This role they accomplished.

Where To See the Big Boy Locomotives Today

Big Boy Locomotive 4018 is now at the new location of the Museum of the American Railroad in Frisco Texas, a northern suburb of Dallas. The 4018 locomotive made the trip from near downtown Dallas to Frisco over August 18th and 19th, 2013. For years this locomotive was at the museum in Dallas before being moved to Frisco which will offer a much larger space for the railroad exhibits.

4018 Big Boy cab and tender car

Locomotive 4023 is on display at Kenefick Park in Omaha Nebraska.

Locomotive 4004 is displayed at Holliday Park in Cheyenne Wyoming.

Locomotive 4005 is at the Forney Transportation Museum in Denver Colorado. This museum is fascinating displaying everything from vintage cars and tractors to steam locomotives.

Locomotive 4006 is now at the Museum of Transportation in St. Louis Missouri. This is a comprehensive transportation museum featuring everything on wheels and more. Locomotive 4006 has more mileage than any of the other surviving steam engines.

Locomotive 4012 is displayed at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton Pennsylvania. Administered by the National Park Service, this venue comprises forty acres of the Scranton railroad yard of the old Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Railroad. Train rides are available.

Big Boy Locomotive and bell

Locomotive 4014 is on display at Fairplex in Pomona California.

Locomotive 4017 is displayed at the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay Wisconsin. This is one of the oldest railroad museums in the U.S. with a large display of locomotives and rolling stock.

Four of the eight 4000 Series locomotives are displayed along the old historic Union Pacific route. These are the exhibits in Cheyenne, Denver, Pomona and Omaha.

The link below is to the permanent display in Amarillo Texas of the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad’s historic steam locomotive 5000, referred to as a “Texas Type”, a 2-10-4 configuration on our Western Trips site…

The Santa Fe 5000 Locomotive

On our Trips Into History site see our article and photos on the 1911 Baldwin 2-8-0 Locomotive.

Union Pacific Railroad 4018 tender

A Step Further Than the 4-6-6-4 Locomotives

ALCO built the 4-6-6-4 steam locomotives beginning in 1936. These they named the Challenger series. These really were the precursors to the 4000 Series featured above.

The challenge so to speak of the Challenger locomotive was to pull tonnage over mountain ranges. No easy task to say the least. Helper engines were often utilized to get this done. The need was such that the Union Pacific Railroad purchased 105 of these 4-6-6-4 Challenger engines. Other railroads would buy the 147 additional Challengers produced. Out of this total of 252 4-6-6-4- steam engines manufactured, the American Locomotive Company built 227 Challengers and the Baldwin Locomotive Works 25.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 Trips Into History)

 

A Tour of the Historic Texas Capitol Building

When in Austin Texas, a tour of the state’s beautiful and historic capitol building is both a fun and historically unique outing.

Texas State Capitol Building

The Texas State Capitol built in an Italian Renaissance Revival style was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1970 and was made a National Historic Landmark in 1986. The capitol building is the largest state capitol by square footage in the entire country. It is also taller than the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C. XIT Ranch and the Texas State Capitol The first thing to know about the Texas State Capitol Building is that it was built entirely from ranching funds and that the funds were made possible by the creation of the famous XIT Ranch. At one time the XIT ranch was the world’s largestunder fence and covered a part of ten counties.

Interior top of the Texas State Capitol Dome

Located in downtown Austin Texas and just south of the University of Texas campus, the state capitol was completed in 1886 and was financed  by 3,000,000 acres of public lands in the Texas Panhandle.This new capitol building replaced the previous one built in 1853 that was destroyed by fire. This structure would represent the fourth building housing Texas government. Another impressive historic structure nearby is the Driskill Hotel. Located at 604 Brazos Street, the Driskill Hotel was built in 1886 by cattleman Jesse Driskilland was frequently used by state legislators while the Texas State Capitol Building was being constructed several blocks to the north.

View from the middle of the rotunda

Building the Texas State Capitol There was a competition for plans and designs of the new capitol building which was won by a man named Elijah E. Meyers of Detroit Michigan. Myers also has to is credit the design of the Colorado State Capitol Building. After agreeing on the plans and design, the state legislature then searched for a contractor who would agree to build the massive 360,000 square foot structure in exchange for 3 million acres of land in Texas. An Illinois firm was chosen as the general contractor who in turn farmed out potions to other Illinois contractors. The sunset red granitemaking up the exterior walls was quarried from a site only fifty miles from Austin near Marble Falls Texas.  Granite cutters were actually brought in from Scotland for their expertise.

Restored gun used during Texas Revolution and Civil War at entrance to Texas State Capitol Building

Texas State capitol Grounds The grounds surrounding the Texas State Capitol comprise 22 acres. Here you can view several very unique monuments, the first installed in 1891. This first monument was in honer of the Heroes of the Alamo. In all there are seventeen monuments that surround the capitol building. Among other monuments on the capitol grounds are the Confederate Soldiers, Terry’s Texas Rangers and Volunteer Fireman and the Tejano Monument. The Tejano Monument is comprised of 11 life size bronze statues crafted by Laredo artist Armando Hinojosa commemorating the contributions of Texas’ Spanish and Mexican settlers. Another interesting statue found on the Texas State Capitol grounds is a replica of the Statue of Liberty. This statue was created in 1952 Also on the Texas State Capitol grounds are native Texas trees, historic markers and cannons. There are a total of twenty-five tree species found on the capitol grounds. The Trail of Trees takes about one hour to cover. For a brochure detailing this trail on the Texas capitol grounds see website http://isatexas.com/Members/Trail_of_Trees_at_the_Texas_Capitol.htm Below are links to additional Trips Into History articles you may enjoy… Touring the Texas Hill Country The Confederate Navy

Monument on grounds of Texas State Capitol

Interesting Facts About the Texas State Capitol Building When the state capitol was completed after four years of construction in 1886 it co