FunStuff

Our last stop on the way home was in Dublin at the Dr. Pepper Museum.  The Dublin Bottling Plant, no longer bottles Dr. Pepper.  To find out the “rest of the story” you can visit this website.   They are still in operation, however, bottling their own unique flavors. We arrived a little early (they open at 10am) so we walked around and took pictures of the outside of the building and of the surrounding area.

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When 10am arrived the store opened and we went inside to look around.

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Soon the museum across the street was opened and we went over there to look around.

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We went back across the street to the bottling plant.  They weren’t bottling today.  In fact I think they are waiting for a new machine to accommodate newer bottles.  The old bottles have became rare and people collect them rather than returning them.  We enjoyed the tour.  At the end we got to make our very own soda.  Make sure you get the lid on tight or it will spill in the car (like mine did).

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The Lake Rita Blanca Park is owned and maintained by the City of Dalhart. According to their website, the hiking/biking/horse trails around the area make it perfect for wildlife viewing. We were spending another night in Dalhart, so we needed something to fill our day. Didn’t want to spend in cooped up in a motel room. So we headed over to take a look just as a front blew through. The news that night said the wind gusts had reached 50 mph. It only dropped the actual temperature 5 degrees but it felt colder than that out in that wind. We did most of our viewing from inside our vehicle.

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View of the hiking/biking/horse trail on the north side of the lake from the first overlook.

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Lots of rocks and sagebrush.

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We drove right down to the edge of the lake as it sits now in drought conditions.  This area should be under water.

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Driving around to the south end we found another overlook.  As you can see the tower for the dam is sitting completely out of the water.  The depth gauge on the side unneeded.

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Looking east toward a new subdivision.  They are too far away to be able to see the lake.
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This is what it looks like trying to stand in 50 mph wind.  It was blowing across the lake against his back and he wasn’t enjoying the blowing dust at all.

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Looking north across the lake.

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Rock outcroppings to the west of our location.

After doing the walk in Stratford we moved on to Dalhart. We will do the walk there tomorrow so we have an afternoon to fill. We went looking for the Empty Saddle sculpture. The Empty Saddle was listed as being on HWY 87. It was placed there in 1940 at the request of the wife of an XIT ranch hand, to recognize the contribution of the XIT cowboys to the history of the region. However, due to pending road construction the sculpture has been removed. We talked to several local people about it and it seems the sculpture had been vandalized and it was being repaired. Once repaired they would find a new location for it away from the highway widening project.

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We next visited the XIT Museum and learned a lot of stuff I didn’t know. Construction of the Texas State Capitol building was funded by the sale of public lands. In one of the largest barter transactions of recorded history, the builders of the capitol (John and Charles Farwell), known as the Capitol Syndicate, were paid with more than three-million acres of public land in the Panhandle region of Texas; this tract later became the largest cattle ranch in the world, the XIT Ranch.

The XIT Ranch was owned by the syndicate which had mostly British investors. However, timing was bad for the XIT, as cattle prices crashed in 1886 and 1887. By the fall of 1888, the ranch was unable to sell its cattle and make a profit. The cattle were constantly plagued by rustlers and predators, especially wolves, leading to further losses for the syndicate. In 1901, the syndicate began selling off the land to pay its investors as the bonds became due. By 1905, most of the land was subdivided, with large tracts being sold to other cattlemen and small amounts of land being sold to farmers. The last parcel of land was sold in 1963.

Brands on the wall near the museum entrance.

Brands on the wall near the museum entrance.

Information on the ranch.

Information on the ranch.

Map of the ranch which covered 10 counties.

Map of the ranch which covered 10 counties.

Sled on display.

Sled on display.

More ranch information.

More ranch information.

The light yellow shows the ranch.

The light yellow shows the ranch.

The Capital Building

The Old Capital Building, which later burned.

Information on the Capitol.

Information on the Capitol.

We walked the outside display at the museum as part of the Dumas Volksmarching Event. We came back on Monday (they aren’t open on Sunday) and visited the inside exhibits.

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Owl made from radio transistors.  There was a display of old radios in the showcase below.

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When driving West on I-40 from Oklahoma into Texas you will come to Groom.  Long before you get there you can see the cross.  It used to be more impressive but now the wind generator towers makes it harder to see.  Built in 1995 by Steve Thomas, the cross stands 190 feet and weighs 2.5 million pounds.  Forming a circle round it’s base are bronze statues which depict the Stations of the Cross – a series of images depicting Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion.

There is a building that houses a movie theatre (free film), a gift shop, and this fountain with Jesus.
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There is also a Last Supper sculpture but they were holding church service there and we arrived in the middle, so we didn’t intrude. We continued on around to view the tomb.

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Here is a picture of the cross.

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If you are traveling I-40 and pass Groom, I recommend this as a place to stop for awhile.

We detoured over into Oklahoma to look for a letterbox in Altus.  We didn’t find it, but they have a very nice park (where it should have been).  Here are some pictures from Altus.

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The Boeing B-47, the world’s first swept-wing bomber, made its initial flight on Dec. 17, 1947 and quantity deliveries began in 1951. When production ended in 1957, more than 1,200 Stratojets were serving with the Strategic Air Command at USAF bases throughout the world. By the late 1960s, the B-47 was obsolete and was removed from operational service.

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Vision Seeker, sculptor Harold Holden 1996

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Ed with another angle.

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This looked like an old jail, but there wasn’t any markers for it.
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Just a pretty Redbud tree.

In 1874 Captain John T. Lytle and several cowboys left South Texas with 3,500 head of longhorn cattle and a remuda of saddle horses. Five years later, the route Lytle cut out of the prairie to Ft. Robinson, Nebraska, had become the most significant cattle trail in history – the Great Western Cattle Trail.

Though less well known than the Chisholm Trail, the Great Western Cattle Trail was longer in length and carried cattle for two years longer than the Chisholm. The Great Western saw over seven million cattle and horses pass through Texas and Oklahoma to the railheads in Kansas and Nebraska, therefore, developing the cattle industry as far north as Wyoming and Montana. A typical head would move 10 -12 miles a day and included the trail boss, a wrangler, and a cook. The drive from South Texas to Kansas took about two months at a cost of $1000 in wages and provisions. At the end of the trail, cattle sold for $1.00 to $1.50 per head. In Texas, feeder trails from the Rio Grande led to the trailhead near Bandera and the Great Western passed through, Kerrville, Junction, Brady, Coleman, Baird, Albany and Fort Griffin. It is believed that the main streets of Throckmorton, Seymour, and Vernon run north and south because of the trail. Vernon’s 19th Century history is closely bound to the Red River crossing some 15 miles north.

Corwin Doan operated a store at this point and supplied cowboys with all they needed to survive the trip. This is where an estimated six million Longhorn cattle crossed on their way to the railheads in Dodge City, Kansas. The fencing of the west and the invention of barbed wire, put an end to the cattle drives that brought Texas back from the economic collapse brought upon by the Civil War.

Doans, TX, is north of Vernon in Wilbarger County. Drive north about 12 miles on Highway 283 to Ranch Road 2916, turn east and drive 3 miles to Ranch Road 924. At that intersection is a large granite marker with ranch brands covering the front face.

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This smaller marker next to it.

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Across the road, to the northwest, is an old adobe building.

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This building is the same one built by Corwin Doan and used as a store during the cattle drives up the Great Western Cattle Trail.  It has a historical marker here also.

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If you look inside (the building is locked) you can see some of the old furnishings.

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There is another marker out front with information of next of kin.

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One last look at the building as we drove away.

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