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Texas Wine Country: The Long and Winding Trail from Grape to Wine

The wine tasting room at the Duchman Family Winery in Hays County, southeast of Driftwood. Photo courtesy of the winery.

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Towns

Bremond

Bremond is at the junction of State Highway 14 and Farm roads 46, 2413, 2954, and 2293, ten miles east of the Brazos River in northwestern Robertson County.

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Birding in Texas

The World Birding Center comprises nine birding education centers and observation sites in the Lower Rio Grande Valley designed to protect wildlife habitat and offer visitors a view of more than 500 species of birds.

The center has partnered with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and nine communities to turn 10,000 acres back into natural areas for birds, butterflies and other wildlife. This area in Cameron, Hidalgo and Starr counties is a natural migratory path for millions of birds that move between the Americas.

The nine WBC sites are situated along the border with Mexico:

Bentsen – Rio Grande Valley State Park
This is the World Birding Center Headquarters and comprises the 760-acre Bentsen-RGV State Park and 1,700 acres of adjoining federal refuge land near Mission. The site offers: daily tram service; 4 nature trails ranging in length from 1/4 mile to 2 miles; 2-story high Hawk Observation Tower with a 210-foot-long handicapped access ramp; 2 observation decks; 2 accessible bird blinds; primitive camping sites (by reservation); rest areas; picnic sites with tables; exhibit hall; park store; coffee bar; meeting room (available for rental); catering kitchen; bike rentals (1 and 2 seat bikes). Access within the park is by foot, bike and tram only; (956) 585-1107. Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

Edinburg Scenic Wetlands
This 40-acre wetlands in Edinburg is an oasis for water-loving birds, butterflies and other wildlife. The site is currently offering:walking trails, nature tours and classes; (956) 381-9922. Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday through Wednesday; 8 a.m.–6 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Closed Sunday.

Estero Llano Grande State Park
This 176-acre refuge in Weslaco attracts a wide array of South Texas wildlife with its varied landscape of shallow lake, woodlands and thorn forest; 956-565-3919. Hours: 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 8 a.m.–7:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday through August.

Harlingen Arroyo Colorado
This site in Harlingen is connected by an arroyo waterway, as well as hike-and-bike trails meandering through the city, Hugh Ramsey Nature Park to the east and the Harlingen Thicket to the west; (956) 427-8873. Hours: Office, 8 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. Nature trails are open seven days a week, sunrise to sunset.

Old Hidalgo Pumphouse
Visitors to this museum in Hidalgo on the Rio Grande can learn about the steam-driven irrigation pumps that transformed Hidalgo County into a year-round farming area. The museum’s grounds feature hummingbird gardens, walking trails and historic tours; (956) 843-8686. Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Monday through Friday; 1 p.m.–5 p.m., Sunday. Closed Saturday.

Quinta Mazatlan
This 1930s country estate in McAllen is a historic Spanish Revival adobe hacienda surrounded by lush tropical landscaping and native woodland. It is also an urban oasis, where quiet trails wind through more than 15 acres of birding habitat; (956) 688-3370. Hours: 8 a.m.–5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. Open until sunset on Thursdays. Closed Mondays and holidays.

Post Secondary Education

The first permanent institutions of higher education established in Texas were church-supported schools, although there were some earlier efforts:

Rutersville University was established in 1840 by Methodist minister Martin Ruter in Fayette County and was the predecessor of Southwestern University in Georgetown, which was established in 1843;

Baylor University, now at Waco, was established in 1845 at Independence, Washington County, by the Texas Union Baptist Association; and

Austin College, now at Sherman, was founded in 1849 at Huntsville by the Brazos Presbytery of the Old School Presbyterian Church.

Local Option Alcohol

Although the laws regulating the alcoholic beverage industry are consistent statewide, the Alcoholic Beverage Code allows for local-option elections to determine the types of alcoholic beverages that may be sold and how they can be sold.

Elections can be held by counties, cities, or individual justice of the peace precincts. In the time since our last edition went to press, four counties have moved from Part Wet to Wet: Crane, Kerr, Mason, and Wilson.

As of August 2021, there were 59 completely wet counties in Texas and 5 completely dry counties.

Over time, Texas has been getting “wetter.” In 2003, there were 35 completely wet counties and 51 completely dry. In 1995, there were 53 dry counties, and in 1986, there were 62 dry counties. The list below reflects the wet, part wet, and dry coding on the map.

Prehistoric Texas

Early Texans are believed to have been descendants of Asian groups that migrated across the Bering Strait during the Ice Ages of the past 50,000 years. At intermittent periods, enough water accumulated in massive glaciers worldwide to lower the sea level several hundred feet. During these periods, the Bering Strait became a 1,300-mile-wide land bridge between North America and Asia.

These early adventurers worked their way southward for thousands of years, eventually getting as far as Tierra del Fuego in South America about 10,000 years ago.

Biologically, they were completely modern homo sapiens. No evidence has been found to indicate that any evolutionary change occurred in the New World.