Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Antique or Modern?

While out walking, I found this old horseshoe and thought I'd research it to see if it is antique or modern. What do you think?

On the hoof side of the horseshoe I found some printing, and concluded that it wasn't of a hand forged era, but possibly could have come from early technology. For some reason the 1930s seemed to come to mind. On the curve of the shoe I made out the letters of Diamond op forged. I later found out that op was the last two letters of the word drop, as in drop-forged. I found #00 on the long left side. It began to appear as though it wasn't an antique, and sure enough it isn't. The #00 horseshoe can still be purchased from the Diamond company today. It was a fun little mystery, and I learned a bit about horseshoes in the process. Here's what I learned:
* Diamond is the largest supplier of horseshoes in the world!
* The horseshoe I found is called a Diamond Special Plain Horseshoe. It has a rounder shape than a classic horseshoe.
* Diamond horseshoes require little shaping, but can be worked hot or cold to fit the front or hind hooves. Now we know!

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Old Mission

This interesting building is located on Hwy 281 just north of the Hwy 290 intersection heading towards Johnson City. It didn't seem to be identified by a sign, and it isn't open for the public to drive up to. We guessed that it might be an old mission or possibly was associated with an obsolete vineyard.

It turns out that this structure isn't an old anything, but is a new vacation rental home that just opened for business! It is called, Lighthouse Hill Ranch. This 86' tall, four floor structure sits atop a 200' hill and provides a view for 50 miles! The ranch is 1,640 acres, and has two other smaller rental homes available. This picture and the ones following are from the Lighthouse Hill Ranch website.

This home rents for $590 a night for 2 people. There is a two night minimum.

The house comfortably sleeps 9, but can accomodate 15 with the use of couches. Each additional person adds to the rental rate.

To see more pictures of this home or the other rentals located on the ranch visit their website: www.lighthousehillranch.com .

Monday, January 16, 2012

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park

This is the visitor center for the L.B.J. State and National Parks. The building on the right is where you pick-up your free driving tour c.d., and houses a nice gift shop. The building to the left has a nicely done museum and theater.

Here's a glimpse of the museum. It gives an overview of life in the hill country of Texas in the early 1900s with some focus on President Johnson.

This school desk was donated to the museum, as having been Lyndon B. Johnson's. Check out the initials carved along the center front edge of the desk. They are just above the 3 dark spots on the desk edge. Nice printing skills!

The main focus of the state park is the Sauer-Beckmann Living History Farm. Costumed interpreters carry out the daily activities of life from 1900-1918.

Here is an overview of the farm The buildings are the original ones built by the families that settled here. If you look at the map at the beginning of the last blog, you will note that this farm is located across the Pedernales River directly in front of the Texas Whitehouse. The Sauer-Beckmann Farm was home to the midwife that assisted with the birth of L.B.J..

Johann and Christine Sauer, along with their four children, came to this area in 1869. They were immigrants from Germany. It appears that they started out in the log cabin on the right and eventually added the limestone cabin. The log cabin is interesting in that it seems to have limestone blocks in the chinking between the logs. I haven't seen that before. Nice touch!

This is the view to the right, as you enter the log cabin. Don't the jars of food look fresh and tasty! The ladder must have gone up into a loft for sleeping. I can't imagine how hot it must have gotten there during the Texas Summer heat!

The pots and pans are on the left side of the same room! The opening above the table would have just been a window to the outdoors until such time as the limestone cabin was built. You can see the nice limestone chinking.

This room is attached to the previous room, but may have been an addition, as it is all limestone. This is the right side of the room. The area appears to be set-up for processing grains.

This is the left side of the same room. Looks like an area for pickling.

This room is in the limestone cabin, and a doorway has been made to it from the pickling area in the above picture. Looks like another workroom ladies! From right to left I see canning, a fireplace for cooking, a butter churn, and jugs of some drink. Whew, I'm tired from looking at that much work!

This is the room you walk into, as you enter the limestone cabin. It's the one with the square opening between the two cabins.

By 1885 several stone buildings were built near the original log and limestone cabins. The tall limestone building to the right of the cabin was said to house bedrooms for the Sauer's now 10 children! One of those 10 children, Augusta Sauer Lindig, is the one who served as midwife at the birth of President Johnson.

This is an overview of the continued additions to the original structures. The Beckmann family acquired this property in 1900. A good cotton crop in 1915 allowed Emil and Emma Beckmann to build a new barn, to add a frame room onto the old rock structure, and to construct porches connecting to a lovely Victorian house covered with fashionable pressed tin. Note the small square stone building out front. That is a laundry room. I think the large barrel on top must be for collecting rain water.

Here's Roy giving it a try. Can you imagine doing laundry for your family of twelve this way, along with all the other work there was to do? Makes life today seem pretty easy, doesn't it?

This is the entry to the Victorian home. Coming through the doorway and turning right you enter the living room or would they have said parlor?

This is the right side of the parlor toward the front of the house.

This is the left side of the parlor.

Across the Victorian home entry way from the parlor is a bedroom. The side door pictured goes across a dogtrot to the tall limestone building that housed the Sauer family children. The Beckmann's had the first floor, as a kitchen. Roy likes the ceiling oil lamp, as it has a system of chains and mechanisms that allows the lamp to be pulled down away from the lampshade for lighting. It must have seemed like quite a convenience for the times. Seemed pretty cool even today!

This is the bedroom pictured above looking back at the entry way, and the doorway to another bedroom on the right.

This must have been the parent's room.

This is the back of all the homes and additions from 1869-1915. On the right are the log and limestone cabins, the tall limestone Sauer children's bedroom addition, and the Beckmann Victorian home.

This is the barn that was added in 1915. We completed our tour feeling a connection to the early years of life in Texas.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park

Roy and I picked a nice day last week to visit the Lyndon B. Johnson State and National Historical Parks.The national park is shown in green on this map. When visiting these parks you'll want to set aside plenty of time for your visit. Roy and I spent 5 hours touring, and that's with just skimming through the museums. The parks have free admission, provide a nicely done free driving tour c.d., and it's only $2.00 per person to tour the interior of Lyndon and Ladybird's home. This blog will feature the national park, and LBJ's family history. In the next blog I'll cover the state park, which is more of an overview of life in the early 1900s.

The first building you'll see upon entering the national park is this one room school house. Lyndon lived a short distance up the road and could hear the children playing at recess. At age 4 he was allowed to attend school here for a couple of months. It must have impacted him deeply, as he went to college and became a teacher. He returned to this school as our 36th President to sign an education funding bill in the presence of his former teacher and classmates.

This is the interior of the school taken through Plexiglas, which I might add is quite challenging. When I see the early life of President Johnson, I'm always a little taken back by his having grown up in a time of oil lamps, wood stove heat, and limited indoor plumbing. I was told that as a legislator he brought electricity to Johnson City in the 1930s. Depending how far people lived outside of town, there wasn't electricity until the 1950s! As president from 1963-1969, doesn't that make him seem like he would have grown-up with more modern amenities?

This is a reconstruction of Lyndon's birth home. He was born in 1908 at home, with the help of a midwife neighbor. He lived here until age 5, at which time the family moved to the boyhood home in Johnson City. Johnson City is 14 miles away. I love the big yard and trees. It's very peaceful.

Here is a close-up of his reconstructed birth home. L.B.J. and Ladybird purchased the property where the original home stood in 1964, and had it rebuilt as a guest house. It is not meant to be an exact interpretation, but is close.

This is the original home of the one pictured above. It was built in 1889 by L.B.J.'s grandfather Samuel Ealy Johnson Sr.. Remember the grandfather that lived in the dogtrot cabin at the site of what would become Johnson City? That's him in the center of the photo. The other people in the picture weren't identified, but they are probably Samuel's wife, Eliza, and some of their 9 children. The house was built in the dogtrot style. Lyndon's parents moved into this home after their marriage in 1907.

In the one room on the right side of the house is a combination bedroom-sitting room.

Across the open dogtrot in the left side of the house is a combination bedroom-sitting room and attached nursery. The doorway to the right goes to what appears to be a dining room.

This is the doorway to the dining room and what appears to be the doorway to a kitchen.

Across the road from the home where Lyndon was born is the Johnson family cemetery.

The two larger headstones are Lyndon and Ladybird's. Ladybird's given name is Claudia Alta Taylor. Ladybird is a childhood nickname. The headstones to the left are Lyndon's siblings and their spouses. The headstones to the right are his parents and grandparents. I feel deeply touched by the continuity of generations of this family having lived in this area and spanning such an interesting time in history.

The Lutheran church across the field was built in 1908, the year L.B.J. was born. It sits in view of his birth home at quite a distance. It became the home of the first Headstart program enacted by President Johnson in 1965. After his time in office, he used to visit the kids in the Headstart program and bring them candy. They began calling him Mr. Jellybean! There's some trivia for you!

After Samuel Ealy Johnson Sr. and his wife Eliza left the dogtrot cabin in Johnson City, they came to live in this home. It is within walking distance from the home where Lyndon was born. Lyndon's grandfather lived here until 1915 and his grandmother until 1917.

I enjoyed this picture. There's grandfather sitting in his Model T Ford. Grandmother is in the wheelchair. The boy standing in front of the vehicle is thought to be Lyndon.

This is the entrance to Lyndon and Ladybird's ranch, and what became known as the Texas Whitehouse. The house and 250 acres were purchased from Lyndon's aunt in 1951. Lyndon and Ladybird expanded the ranch to approximately 3,000 acres. The expansive land is very impressive to drive through.

The first building you come to is the showbarn. Lyndon had the drive through the center of it built just wide enough for his Lincoln Continentals to pass through. He had washed and groomed prized Herefords in the pens to show to visiting dignitaries.

Here is a young Hereford bull. The showbarn informational signs openly discuss the building of L.B.J.'s public image as a rancher and businessman. Very little of their income came from operating the ranch.

As you near the house, you come onto what would be the airstrip taxi area and hangar. When returning home the president would travel in the large Air Force One to the Austin airport and then transfer to this smaller jet that he affectionately called Air Force One Half. Johnson was the first president to have a jet assigned to him. The jet is a Lockheed JetStar VC-140.

Here is an overview of the Johnson's home, referred to as the Texas Whitehouse. The hangar is center with a cottage for the secret service and a telecommunications station behind it. Their home is the distant white home.

Inside the hangar is a wonderfully done museum.

Here is one of his Lincoln Continentals.

The blue car is an amphibian. If you look back on the map at the beginning of the blog, you'll see an entrance to the Texas Whitehouse directly in front of the home. The driveway goes down into the Pedernales River. Johnson is said to have enjoyed pulling a practical joke on newcomers by taking this entry with the amphicar, claim his brakes quit, and then run the car into the river. I'm not so sure that would be funny. Pretty cool, though, seeing a picture of it floating in the river!

This is his All Terrain vehicle. He had it modified so it had a back seat, gun rack, and wet bar.

Looks like fun!

This is the secret service cottage next to the hangar and the telecommunications building behind it. Tours aren't currently available through these buildings.

This is Ladybird and Lyndon's home. It became known as the Texas Whitehouse, as he spent so much of his time as president working from home.

President Johnson's office is self contained in the portion of the home to the forefront of the picture. It consists of one modest sized room. Exiting his office onto the porch you then enter the side door into the family room. The downstairs portion of the home was just completed for full touring this December. Pictures are not allowed inside the home, but I'm sure they can be found online. Although the home had a nice country home feel, it also felt very much like a command post. There were phones in every room including the bathroom, 4 televisions in the family room and 4 televisions in the bedroom. The televisions were for monitoring news channels. President Johnson died of a heart attack at age 65 while at home. Ladybird lived in this home until 2007 and died at age 94.