Monday, June 14, 2021

Cowboys and Indians

 My good friend (whom I've never met), STxAR, posted recently about the H2 weather we've been having here in the great state of Texas. I can attest to the veracity of his description. Just finished mowing the guest house DIL is staying in for now.  According to the weather report on my phone, it's 89 out with a "Feels Like" of 92 and 51% Humidity.

I'm gonna call BS on the "Feels Like" calculation.  I know what 92 feels like, this wasn't it.  Went through 4x pint bottles of water (Yes, Beans, AKA 1/2 gallon) while mowing, and a couple more when I called it quits. (Still need to weed whack, tomorrow, earlier.)  What's my new "Feels Like" calculation method?  Temperature and humidity are additive.  So,  today's (Sunday) "Felt Like" was 140o degrees Juvat. 

On a side note, Little Juvat reported in a few days ago.  Kuwait was reporting 53 degrees C or about 128 degrees F.  Wouldn't take much humidity to push the Degrees Juvat off the scale.

But....Now that I've got that off my chest, on with our regularly scheduled post.

Way back at the end of May, Mrs J and I took a little trip to Palo Duro Canyon in North Texas.  Loved it.  Highly recommend a visit.  Since it is a very long drive from our little burg, and we had brought the dogs, we decided we'd break it up a bit. Everyone needs a bathroom break once in a while.

In addition, both Mrs J and I enjoy learning a bit about the history of things in our area.  So...the stop this time was at Fort Chadbourne. The fort (or what's left of it) is about midway between San Angelo and Abilene.  A nice Texas Ranch Road connects to the fort from US 83.  It was the Tuesday before Memorial Day when we visited, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.  

I went into the main building to find out what the "Rules" were.  A very nice lady said that we could walk around the buildings with the dogs or we could have a guide give us a tour in an ATV.  A small donation got us the latter.

Our guide was definitely a "Good ol' Boy".  Most of you will understand the term.  Had spent most of his life working the ranch on which the fort is located.  He'd also participated in most of the restoration projects that had been done.

He also had a great sense of humor.

Pretty much the "Good Ol'Boy stereotype

The fort had been established in 1852 as a stopping point for the Butterfield Overland Mail stagecoaches as well as housing soldiers to dissuade the Comanche's from interfering with stage operations.  

Ok, I always thought that life was pretty tough in the Cowboys and Indians Era.  But I got a much clearer picture after visiting this fort.  For instance, the above picture is an actual stagecoach from the time.  It held 9 passengers as well as the driver, his helper, and baggage.  It went from St Louis to San Francisco.  There were about 200 stations along the route and took about 540 hours one way.  A given stage coach would travel back and forth between 3 stations. Passengers would disembark and reembark on the next coach which left almost immediately, 24 hours a day for 24 days.  They were allowed two 40 minute rest breaks a day.

In order to seat all nine passengers, they sat 3 abreast with the front row facing back and the back two rows facing forward.  The front and middle rows would have to interlock their legs.  Since there was only room for 10 legs, the two outside legs literally were "outside".  With nothing to rest their feet on.  For 23 hours a day for 24 days.  

The fort's museum has a display with some comments on some of the aspects of the trip written by travelers.  One of my favorites was "Had I not just come out over the route, I would be perfectly willing to go back, but I now know what Hell is like.  I've just had 24 days of it."

Oh, and they had to pay for their meals also.

I asked how much the passengers had to pay for the privilege of riding in such luxury.  The guide said it was $200. which he said equated to about 6 grand today.  

We got around to the living area of the fort, one of the rebuilt buildings was the commander's quarters which he shared with another officer.

A bit tight, but... Oh, by the way, that's the "shower" between the bed and the table.

Next door was the remaining officer's quarters.

The "guest book" was a little rustic.  The fort was not considered a good assignment.  It could take a month or more to get mail.  Personnel transfers occurred from San Antonio, the next closest large base and could also take more than a month.  When a commander was called to San Antonio for a meeting, he generally relinquished command to a subordinate, left and then did what ever it took not to get sent back.

Consequently, maintaining discipline was not necessarily easy.

Our guide related a story of a group of soldiers that deserted.  They were unfortunate enough to get captured by Comanche's and most were killed, but a couple of them made it back to the fort with the Indians in pursuit.  They made it into the officer's quarters and, now rearmed, shot it out with the Indians.

This window was one of the soldier's positions.  Those are actual bullet marks in the wall.

Scratching your initials in the wall must have been how the "Kilroy was here" legend in WWII got started.  At this point, our guide related a tale of a tour he'd given to some people.  One of them asked who DT was.

The guide said "The President visited last month and carved his initials there."

Evidently she went on quite a rant about how that was just like him.  He started laughing and explained that they had no idea who it was.  Nevertheless, that didn't stop her rant.

Some folks!

I was impressed with how much restoration had been done and the care taken to be accurate in materials used.  Most of the stonework/brickwork was done with materials taken from the ranch where the fort is located.  Much of the fort had been in ruins when the effort started.

The restored building in the center had looked much like the building in the top right corner when restoration began.

That finished up our tour, The dogs had found it entertaining, several trees were watered and we were soon back on the road.

It also adds to our Texas Forts visited list.  Fort Martin Scott, Fort Mason and Fort McKavett were previously visited.  Our guide definitely made it the best so far!

Answering comments might be a bit spotty today.  MBD and SIL are in the packing stage of their move and have requested parental expertise in that endeavor.  So we shall be off to Sam's Town to assist.  50% chance of rain is forecast, so the Juvat family record is likely to remain intact.

Peace out, y'all!


  1. Love the fort visits.

    Remember, supervise, no lifting heavy stuff. I have spoken. 😁

    1. Yes, Boss. Got several female in close vicinity telling me the same thing, not to mention a left hand that sends more meaningful reminders when I resort to habit and grab something

  2. I was sure hoping for a debrief on the excursion. That old timer sounds like a hoot. Great pictures to boot! Every stone building I've been in from that era, seemed to be cooler by a noticeable amount that outside. Back in the mid 80's, I knew a couple out near Boerne that lived in an old stage stop. It had walls at least a foot thick, probably more. It was always so cool in there. They had a spring fed swimming pool, too. Simpler times....

    Hey, thanks for the plug. I don't remember how much ads are, so you'll have to bill me!

    1. STxAR, part of the reason is that they were built to be cooler. They did not have our fancy climate control and thus had to use (probably) centuries old building techniques to manage. I suspect they learned it from the Mexicans, who learned it from the Spanish, who learned it from the Navajo...and so it goes. We just got lazy...

    2. The nice thing about all that thermal mass was they would remain cool for most of the day, and finally get warm about the time the outside was starting to cool, and between that and the weird temperature inversion thing (sit in a house with a not-greatly insulated roof and about 11pm the heat stored upstairs gets pushed down by cooling in the attic, cursed stupid temp inversion thingy) the interior stays... livable for a long enough time to go to bed and stay there until the Sun's up.

      Of course, this weird effect works best in Spring and Fall, barely works at all during the Summer and doesn't work at all during Winter (all four seasons with extremely variable lengths due to, well, where you're at. A stone house in Maine will stay frozen much longer than a stone house in Texas...)

    3. Thanks STxAR,
      There was a lot of entertaining stuff in the old fort, and the Old Timer was pretty quick witted. Made for a fun stop.

    4. THBB,
      Our house in Alamogordo was built from adobe and cooled by a single swamp cooler (evaporative cooler), as long as you cleaned the dust from the filters a couple of times a year, the house was generally pretty cool.

  3. Thanks for another visit to the frontier juvat, that stage is an eye opener, NOT what Hollywood always presents.......padding appears to be a bit.....ah.....sparse. Good luck with the moving, remember delegate!

    1. Yeah because it was an original, I couldn't touch, but it didn't look like much padding at all. Especially when you were jammed in there 22.6 hours a day, unless you were lucky enough to be forced to walk when it got too steep for the horses to pull everybody.

      I was on the wall hole repair task as well as the pack the kitchen boxes task. SIL was sole proprietor of the lift and carry task.

      The last 3 days of the month are the actual load the van, drive, download the van. So...we've got that to look forward to.

  4. Glad you enjoyed the fort - did you get to see the main museum collection in the new building they built to house it? A Fox News show, Strange Inheritance, about the firearms collection housed there is how I first found out about the place.
    I was in north Georgia this weekend, it had similar H&H weather - high temp was only 90 but "real feel" was 102 so a bit of water in the atmosphere, which got wrung out late in the day by some heavy thunderstorms.

    1. I did briefly, the dogs were not allowed in the building. When I went in to figure out the rules and told her about the dogs, she said she'd arrange for our "Good ol' boy" to drive us around. So, we missed that part. But....That gives us another reason to return.

  5. Juvat, when we moved to New Home, I learned the meaning of "feels like". It always seems made up to me - it is just stupidly or cold (as the season dictates).

    Thank you for the sharing the tour! I am always fascinated by those sorts of things. That would have been a very hard (and boring) life.

    As would have taking a stage coach, apparently. And so many are puzzled that 40 years ago, we drove without air conditioning...

    1. And the southern states weren't as popular until the advent of A/C in cars and central air in homes...

    2. I honestly thing the "Degrees Juvat" methodology is more accurate in how hot and humid days feel. Tis interesting that we were comfortable (or tolerable) without AC.

    3. Beans, given the migration directions lately, maybe we should ban AC's on out of state migrators?

  6. Thanks for the tour guide.

    Stagecoaches... always so nicely equipped and clean on tv westerns, and such an easy way to introduce new characters. As an adult, I always find it funny when a character steps out of the coach and doesn't look like they've just had a hell ride and aren't covered by dried dung, speckled with horse urine particles and dumped into a vat of dust. Didn't know the trip was that expensive.

    Back in the day, in California in the late 60's, the family outings used to include at least one trip a season to one of the many Spanish missions sadly falling apart throughout the area (Santa Maria, near Vandenberg AFB (now SFB, whohoo!)) Interesting to see some being restored while others not so much. All with thick walls of whatever was available to build with, either stone or adobe or both. Curiously, each trip usually required stopping by Solvang for beer and sandwiches (dark pumpernickel and ham with cheese) or a small sleepy railroad town for Mexican food (where you park the car in the seedy alley because it's in the shade.)

    Ah, memories.

    1. Yeah neither did I. I suspect "intense odor of dried sweat" was also a descriptor.

  7. Glad y'all had fun and the guide was a 'smart' idea. You can learn a LOT from a guide/docent.

  8. Sounds like what that old Union General wrote, If I was given Texas and a place in Hell I'd live in Hell and rent out Texas. Good trip report. As the son of a frustrated historian who traveled wherever the Army sent us, we visited all those places within reach. I really enjoyed the side trips and still make them at the drop of a hat.

    1. Yeah, it is kinda nice to get out and about and learn something new along the way. My knowledge of stagecoaches has certainly been altered in a more understandable way.

  9. Had to laugh at the DT story. He definitely got her good, yet her TDS couldn't be abated despite his confession.

    1. Yeah, that was true and I certainly had no difficulty believing it.


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