Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Burr's Ferry

Burr's Ferry Bridge Historical Marker
At the historical site of Burr's Ferry at the junction of Texas State Highway 63 and the Sabine River in Newton County. This was an important communications point between Texas and the United States during settlement of the area in the early 1800's. It was named for Dr. Timothy Burr (1790-1852), second cousin of U. S. Vice President Aaron Burr. 

Dr. Burr came to the Sabine area in 1809, but moved his family down from Ohio in the 1820's. He practiced medicine from his plantation home on the Sabine. The Burr family operated the ferry in the 1840's and the town of Burr's Ferry grew up on east side of the river in Louisiana. 

This crossing gave pioneers the ability to enter Texas with their livestock, household goods,and other property. It was one of four main points of entry on the Texas-Louisiana border. This one was called "The Old Beef Trail" because it was used to drive thousands of cattle from Texas to Alexandria for shipment to such cities as New Orleans as early as the 1820's and 30's. 

At the Texas state line in Burr's Ferry
This crossing was considered strategic in 1860's, during the Civil War. Breastworks were built on the east bank and timber was cleared on west bank in an effort to guard against Federal invasions. Union troops planned to invade Texas through Burr's Crossing, but they were repulsed in a battle at Sabine Pass and no battle occurred at the site.

A post office was established here and served from 1873 - 1918, re-opened and closed again in 1922 and then was re-opened again in 1929. It shut down again in 1933 and has never re-opened. The ferry discontinued operating in 1936 when a highway bridge was constructed across the river and now there is very little left of the community except a few scattered houses. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


 Along Highway 65, not far over the Louisiana border from Arkansas, is the unincorporated community which goes by the name Transylvania. In the 1800's, Dr. W. L. Richards bought large tracts of land in the area and established a large plantation. He set aside several acres for a town and named it after the college he had attended in Lexington, Kentucky - Transylvania University.

Once Hollywood movies established a connection in the American mind between "Transylvania" and Dracula, the small town began to commercialize on the association painting a black bat on the water tower and the little community store began selling Dracula and bat-related items to the travelers passing by on Highway 65.

The abandoned Transylvania Elementary School
Not much is left of the town along the highway except the spooky abandoned Transylvania Elementary School, the small convenience store and a few homes.

Transylvania bat water tower

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Memphis Pyramid

The Pyramid Arena, initially known as the Great American Pyramid and commonly referred to as The Pyramid, was originally built in 1991 as a 20,142-seat arena located in Memphis on the banks of the Mississippi River. The structure plays on the city's “sister city” Memphis, Egypt which is known for its ancient pyramids. It is 321 feet (32 stories) tall and has base sides of 591 feet. It is the sixth  largest pyramid in the world behind the Great Pyramid of Giza (456 ft), Khafre’s Pyramid (448 ft), the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas (348 ft), the Red Pyramid (341 ft), and the Bent Pyramid (332 ft). It is 16 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. 

 The Pyramid Arena has not been used as a sports venue on a regular basis since 2004 and is currently being converted into a Bass Pro Shops megastore.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Toltec Mounds in Arkansas

Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park
A National Historic Landmark, the Arkansas Toltec Mounds site located in Lonoke County between the towns of Scott and Keo comprises one of the largest and most impressive archeological sites in the Lower Mississippi River Valley. The park preserves Arkansas's tallest American Indian mounds. Three mounds remain where 18 once stood surrounded by an earthen embankment 8 - 10 feet in height, a portion of which is still visible today. The two tallest mounds once stood 49 and 38 feet tall, astounding since the mounds were built one basket of dirt at a time. These ancient earthworks are the remains of the ceremonial and governmental complex which was inhabited here from A.D. 650 to 1050. Mound groups like this one were religious and social centers for people living in the surrounding countryside. The Toltec Mounds site had a small number of residents who were primarily political and religious leaders of the community and their families. 

The largest mound still remaining
There are no clues as to why the site was abandoned or what happened to the native Americans who built it.

Mound Lake is next to the mounds (you can see one in the background here)
and contains a large population of Cypress trees