Thursday, February 27, 2014

Border Road Recon

I need a few hundred miles on the GSA to get it ready for a 60,000 service and some new tires before two trips in March.  So, I'm heading down to the Brownsville area to do some recon work.  Will probably spend the night on South Padre Island.

Click the camera icon to view the thumbnail picture taken at that point.  Click the thumbnail for larger view.

See the full SpotWalla Map

Saturday, 3/1:  Heading home I stopped at Fort Lancaster.  It's a Texas state park along the old frontier trail.  This part of Texas has many frontier U.S. Army posts and Fort Lancaster housed elements of the U.S. Army 9th Calvary, "Buffalo Soldiers".  Frontier forts were usually located about a days ride apart.  There is not much left of the fort now.  Just some adobe walls and remains of buildings.  Leaving there I eventually landed on I-10 for the cruise home.  I stopped in Junction for fuel and stopped in Luckenback for a cold soda.  It was in the mid 80F' to love Texas in the winter.  

Friday, 2/28:  Got an early start after a quick breakfast at the motel.  First stops are the Battle of Palmito Ranch and the Launching Site of the First U.S. Army Warplane.  Each of these sites are related to defending the Texas Frontier (border).  That's the theme of this riding adventure.  The road out to the battle site was pretty much deserted this time of day.  It was a beautiful morning with cool temperatures.  Check out the pictures, using the icons on the map, of the signs at the sight.

Departing the Brownsville area I want to recon the border road on the way to Del Rio and beyond to Sanderson.  This is a route segment of the MTF/IBA "Ride Around Texas", RAT event taking place the first week/end in May.  I am the ride coordinator for the start/finish location.  Riders will start in Childress TX and have either 70hrs or 85hrs to ride around the perimeter of Texas collecting dated business receipts at 17 mandatory checkpoints.  My goal for the recon is to give riders a first hand account of any issues along the way regarding the route.  This section of the border is heavily patrolled by US Border Patrol, Texas State Troopers, County Sheriff's Officers, not to mention aerial drones, electronic sensors and infrared monitors over probably every inch of the way.  So, I don't expect to see any "road agents" along the way.

My next stop was to visit the grave site of Texas frontier legend Judge Roy Bean.   Although, he was at one time the "Law West of the Pecos" being the Justice of the Peace in Langtry TX, he is buried in Del Rio TX. He grave is behind a replica of the Jersey Lilly saloon located at the Whitehead Museum. 

About 10 miles out from Sanderson TX is the location of one of the last train heists conducted by frontier bandits.  The Baxter's Curve Train Robbery was conducted by a Ben Kilpatrick, an original member of Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch gang.  He and Ole Hobek boarded the train in Sanderson and just outside of town set to rob everyone on the train.  It didn't go well for them.  Check out the link and read how it turned out. I spent the night in Sanderson.  I have passed though Sanderson many times but have never RON'd (remain over night) before.  It has 4 motels all about the same "quality".  Hey, it's a bed and a shower. 

Thursday, 2/27:  It was still a little chilly when I left home, about 50F.  But, the sun was shining bright.  I took the direct route and only stopped for fuel once near Kingville.  After a quick picture at the entrance to SPI, click on the camera icon on the map above, I checked into a nice motel with a off season rate of $40 plus taxes. 

The plan for tomorrow is to scout out the two historic sites listed below the head north west along the border.  I want to go to a couple Texas frontier historic sites between Brownsville and Sanderson. 

There are a couple of historic locations down there I want to scout out for possible future use in The Texas Frontier event.  Each of them made a significant contribution to the defense of the Texas Frontier

Battle of Palmito Ranch -- The last land engagement of the Civil War was fought near this site on May 12-13, 1865, thirty-four days after Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox. Col. Theodore H. Barrett commanded Federal troops on Brazos Island 12 miles to the east. The Confederates occupied Fort Brown 12 miles to the west, commanded by Gen. James E. Slaughter and Col. John S. (Rip) Ford, whose troops had captured Fort Brown from the Federals in 1864. Ordered to recapture the fort, Lt. Col. David Branson and 300 men advanced from Brazos Island. They won a skirmish with Confederate pickets on May 12. Barrett reinforced Branson's troops with 200 men on May 13 and renewed the march to Fort Brown. Confederate cavalry held the Federals in check until Ford arrived with reinforcements that afternoon. Ford's artillery advanced and fired on the northern end of the Federal line while the cavalry charged. The Confederate right charged the southern end of the Federal line and captured part of the Union infantry. Barrett ordered a retreat toward the U.S. position on Brazos Island. While the Confederates reported no fatalities in the Battle of Palmito Ranch, the Union forces reported four officers and 111 men killed, wounded or missing.

Launching Site of First U.S. Army Warplane -- From Old Fort Brown Cavalry Drill Field, near this spot, was made the first flight of a U.S. Army plane to be fired upon in armed hostilities, April 20, 1915. Two Signal Corps officers, Lts. Byron Q. Jones and Thos. Milling, flew a Martin T.O. Curtiss 75 on the border to spot movements of Mexican revolutionist Pancho Villa. They reached 2,600 feet; were up 20 minutes. Though they did not cross the Rio Grande, the plane was hit by machine gun and small arms fire. Their patrols lasted 6 weeks. Planes were used more effectively in fighting against Villa in 1916.