The sights include : The Abner Jackson Plantation Archeological Site, Freeport, TX, Surfside Beach, The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory, The Lake Jackson Festival of Lights, Dow Centennial Nature Park, Alvin Confederate Cemetery, Governor Hogg Plantation, the First Capital of Texas, The Gulf Prairie Cemetery, Peach Point Wildlife Management Area, Asiel the Swamp Mammoth, Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, Quintana Beach and Bryan Beach State Recreational Area
Star Date : 10/02/2004 : The Abner Jackson Plantation, revisited. (Texas Historical Spot)
I have already mentioned the old Abner Jackson Plantation several times now. Again, it is this site in which the city of Lake Jackson is named after. The land around the Lake Jackson (Dug by slaves) was one of the city's first parks owned and managed by the Dow Chemical Company called Lake Jackson Farms. Unfortunately, due to loss of business, Dow sold the land to developers who now have homes for the local rich and famous. However, some of the original site has now been preserved.
To get to the site, one must first pass through a covered bridge. While inside the bridge, farm implements of the period are on display. Once across the bridge, you were on the grounds of the old sugar mill site by the lake. Abner grew sugarcane and quite a few old sugar pots for refining the sugar are on display. I wonder if this is the same old dock we used to fish off?
Star Date : 10/08/2004 : Freeport, TX, the Harbor and Surfside Beach.
Mom and dad dragged my Uncle Hank and Aunt Katherine from Connecticut back to the house from a Hutzler/Biediger family reunion from out of the Texas Hill Country. I would have loved to go, but due to school in the way, no dice this time around.
Mom and dad took them on a few trips to Houston and I wound up showing them a few things around here. Namely, the old Freeport area and Surfside beach.
We first headed south on Hwy 288 into Freeport. We soon passed the ole' shrimp boat "Mystery" at the entrance to the Freeport city park. They usually light this sucker up real nice during Christmas. We drove further down and took a left by the high school and made our way into the old Freeport town square. Though the town square ain't much, we did find the old Pharmacy in which my dad's uncle first worked out of after college. From there, we headed to the dock area to check out all the shrimp boats for which the area is known for.
From the harbor area, we took Hwy 1495 to Hwy 332 and headed south to Surfside beach. From the beach entrance, we took an immediate right and traveled passed all the little houses on stilts until we managed to hit city hall which was at one time the Coast Guard Station. This was also the site where Austin's colony landed, the Battle of Velasco was fought here and the site where Mexican General Santa Anna was detained and the treaty of peace between Texas and Mexico was signed here. Of coarse one treaty was public and one was secret.
Just down another block was Surfside Park. Here, we stopped and checked out the jetties. As we began our walk, we all noticed the waves were quite rough from the storm the day before. However, that didn't stop the boats from going out. The jetties are made from the Texas Hill Country granite from the Marble Falls area. The same granite that the Texas State capital comes from. We even found good ole' Sponge Bob nearby.
Star Date : 10/19/2004 - The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. (Another Bird Watching Opportunity)
Tuesday morning my day off and no class. The kid across the street backed into our mail box. So I helped dad with the repairs. Afterwards, I decided to check out the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory again and hopefully this time it will be open. As I entered the preserve, there was a docking ramp to my right that allowed one access to Buffalo bayou. Of coarse the Wilderness Preserve Park is just on the other side of the bayou. I continued further down the road and noticed a few hiking trails, (I did take the Fly Catcher Trail) until I finally made it to the preserve's headquarters.
Outside their headquarters, I noticed a nice little dock area built for bird observation. Additionally, the grounds also provide a nice pavilion area for birding groups and other activities. Inside, I found plenty of bird watching literature which explained that the preserve was set up in conjunction with Dow Chemical and Phillips Petroleum who originally controlled the property to establish a safe haven for migratory birds. In addition, they work with various groups to count various species of migratory birds to determine population growths or declines among the various species. Their quaint little kitchen also served as their gift shop. Unfortunately, no refrigerator magnets. Dam shoplifters.
I explored the preserve a little more and hiked one last trail before heading back home. At least this time I was prepared for any really wild and ferocious critters. For more information on the preserve, Check out the following link below :
Star Date : 11/20/2004 - The Lake Jackson Festival of Lights.
The Llewellyn's just flew in for Thanksgiving. They said they had an interesting flight. Little Jake said he really enjoyed his flight. Some how we will have to entertain the kids. Thank God there was the Lake Jackson Festival of Lights held every year on the weekend before Thanksgiving. So we all headed down to the Lake Jackson Civic Center. It was your typical town festival with the craft booths, beauty pageant and the Gobbler Cook-Off! First they had to round up all the turkeys and some of them got away in the downtown area. They all wound up in some frying pot or in a smoker. But they all turned out great!
There were plenty of free activities for the kids including a snow mountain to slide down on. The kids also enjoyed a small petting zoo, pony rides, the ole' moon walk and a Laser maze. Plus, there were the regular carnival rides.
Then later that night, we returned for the lighted parade. Lake Jackson obviously thought ahead on this one. The parade started out with a "Keep Lake Jackson Beautiful" procession by handing out trash bags to everyone. As usual, there were the typical venders selling their lighted wares and other goofy items for the kids. The floats were made by the local businesses, schools and churches which included my old scout troop. Of coarse the parade included good ole' Frosty and Snoopy. Remember those trash bags I was telling you about earlier? Well, the parade was ended by a lit up sanitation truck in which we threw our trash bags in! Instant clean-up! I think I'm all fested out.
Star Date : 12/13/2004 - Dow Centennial Nature Park (Bird Watching Opportunity)
This morning, mom had to go into Houston for some nursing conference. My God! Who is going to feed us? What to do? Think! Think! Chile's! After lunch, it was time to hike it off. Dad needed a change from the "Mall walking", so I suggested that we hit the Dow Centennial Bottomlands Park and Preserve.
From Hwy 332, we took Oak Drive into McLean Park. Just behind the Pavilion was a pathway leading up to the trail head. Great, more alligators! Just like Brazos Bend State Park. We began this little adventure at the trailhead or the bridge which spanned over Buffalo Bayou and soon came to our first fork in the trail. We first took the trail to the left which lead us to the banks of the Brazos river. Then we went back to the fork and headed through the swampy Savanna Oaks. All the main trails were paved so many cyclist were also seen out here taking advantage of the good weather. Dad!, Watch out!
As we made our way down the trail, we came to a small creek in which alligators have been spotted. Unfortunately, we only saw a small turtle. Sorry Jake, I know how much you like gator monsters! Finally at the end of the main trail we came to a picnic area. I could not help but notice the bridge up ahead and headed through the gate to check it out. The trail had taken us all the way to the Hwy 2004 Brazos River Bridge and no one was around except for these here critters. Them critters followed us everywhere. Back at the picnic area, I did find another trail, but this one non-paved. I followed it for a while, but it only took you on a route that followed the river. I finally hooked back up with Dad and we made our way back. Oh yeas, I forgot to tell you, there is another fork in the trail just before the alligator creek that runs along Buffalo Bayou. For a change of scenery we to that trail back to the trail head. Poor dad, he was so exhausted. I took him home to rest. Well, it was a much better workout than the mall!
Star Date : 12/18/2004 - The Alvin Confederate Cemetery, the Governor Hogg Plantation, the First Capital of Texas the Gulf Prairie Cemetery, the Peach Point Wildlife Management Area and Asiel, the Swamp Mammoth! (Bird Watching Opportunity), (Texas Historical Sites)
Actually, this began on Star Date : 12/17/2004. With both finals and the few Christmas parties out of the way, I finally had a chance to rent a few videos. Actually my first rentals since I stared back to school again. Of coarse I picked out the latest remake of the Alamo! I was highly impressed with the movie in sticking with historical facts this time as opposed to the 1960 Alamo movie with John Wayne which highly dramatized the battle to make both John look like a real hero and of coarse make the money! I did feel like they should have better developed the characters and the events which led up to the battle. I did like the fact that there was a closure of the conflict with the battle of San Jacinto. But for those of us who know Texas history, the end of Mexican/Texan conflict did not end till several years later. Much of these events and people which led up to the Alamo began with folks right here in the Brazosport area. So the next day, I decided to explore some more historical sites in our area and discovered that some were even quite prehistoric!
One of the historical sites I wanted to visit was the old Confederate Cemetery in Alvin, TX. Yes, back to Alvin again. I finally found a site on the Internet which list all the information on all those Texas Historical signs one sees along the highways and roads of Texas. Check it out :
I have included this site in my links page for future reference. Well, suffice it to say, I found it. Although it is marked as a confederate cemetery, it seems to be open for anyone dead in the local community. However, those who fought in the War Between the States, they are all clearly marked.
From Alvin, I picked up CR 1462 and headed west to Hwy 288. From Hwy 288 I headed south and then west again on Hwy 35 to West Columbia. There in town, one can't help to notice all the signs which lead the way to the Governor Varner Hogg Plantation. Governor Hogg was one of Texas' first Governors. I finally found the entrance to the park and my my way in to admire what a wonderful home he had built for himself paid for by the profits of his plantation business. I'm sure he is proud of himself since he could not take all that wealth with him now that he is buried 6 feet under. However, that is a part of our history. The site does show off other structures of the plantation and of coarse displays life on a typical plantation.
Upon leaving the plantation, I headed back into town. For those who do not know it, after Santa Anna signed both the secret and public treaty to end all hostilities between Mexico and Texas at Fort Velasco, (Again, the site now known as Surfside Town Hall), the first Texas State Capital was here in West Columbia. although only a replica, like the Texas Independence Hall at Washington on the Brazos, it is in a dire need of repairs!
Well, I didn't bring my tools or any lumber to fix it for them, so I moved on. I headed back south again on Hwy 36, drove through Brazoria. Although I have no pictures of the site, Brazoria is the home town of James W. Fannin who lead the Texas troops in Goliad to be slaughtered by the Mexicans in the Battle of Goliad which occurred after the Battle of the Alamo. Here is one more bit of Brazoria history which led to the Battle of the Alamo. During the first time the Texans kicked the Mexican troops out of Texas, Stephen F. Austin's colonist assembled here to go down the Brazos river and sail to Anahuac (A bay further North on the Texas coast to route out the Mexicans there). As they got to the mouth of the Brazos river, they came across Fort Velasco. (Current site of the Surfside Town Hall) and were ordered back. Well of coarse due to the drunken stupor state of the revolutionary colonist, the Velasco Mexican Fort looked as good as any other, so they captured it!
After driving through Brazoria, I headed back south on State Hwy 36 until I reached Jones Creek. Jones Creek also has a significant role in Texas history. As I drove through the community, I took a right on Peach Point and about after a mile I reach the Gulf Prairie Cemetery. The significance of this area was quite obvious from all the Texas Historic Markers around me. Not only was this site the Perry Plantation in which the Perry family settled in and Mary, sister of Stephen F. Austin (The Father of Texas) married into, but also Stephen F. Austin's original grave site. In 1910, Stephen F. Austin's body was moved to the state cemetery in Austin.
I finally finished my business in the cemetery and doubled my way back to Hwy 36 and continued south. After about a minute of driving, I came across the Peach Point Wildlife Preserve. This is another excellent site for you bird watcher fans. It did have a nice picnic area for a bird watching break. And don't worry about the parking.
I then left the park and continued south and then north on Hwy 288. I drove through Freeport and headed northwest on Hwy 332 and then north on Dixie Drive. I just passed the Brazoswood High School (My old high school) until I reached the VME sand pit. Burt this was no ordinary sand pit. Last Spring one the the operators of the sand pit uncovered a prehistoric swamp mammoth which was named Asiel. A bunch of Aggie scientist came to help dig Asiel out. Oh, by the way, it seems the whole pit is now up for sale. Give them a call and buy the place. Who knows, perhaps you will find more ancient mammoths here! Check out the links below :
Star Date : 12/23/2004 - Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge, Quintana Beach and the Bryan Beach State Recreational Area (Bird Watching Opportunity)
Its late in December and I want to go ahead and wrap this little tour of the Brazosport area up. There are only (3) more areas I want to mention about so it is time to hit the road again.
I first started out towards the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge. This is another opportunity for you bird watchers. The refuge is easily found, but please be careful. From Business 288, head north on Stratton Ridge Road and take a right on Hwy 523. Just a little further down, take a left on CR 227 and look for the signs. Be sure to check into their park headquarters to sign in before venturing out to their observatory areas. I only saw some plain ole ducks, however, this area is known for viewing thousands of geese at a time.
After my brief visit, I backtracked to 288 B and headed south to Quintana Beach. Until recently, one had to take a swing bridge to cross the International Coastal Canal. Now, they have a new bridge. Once across the bridge, your pretty much there. I guess one beach looks as good as another?
Quintana Beach is really begins from the point you cross the bridge and ends north to where the Surfside Jetties are located at. If you head south on the beach from the new bridge, you really enter the area known as the Bryan Beach State Recreational Area. Due to the fact that this is the area where the Brazos River finally drains out into the Gulf of Mexico, a lot of cool driftwood washes up here. At one time, the state really did maintain some nice camping grounds here. We really did enjoy them, but now they are gone. I guess have they have all just washed away like this poor soul. (Maybe that bottle of booze contributed to his demised) But, it is another bird watching area. I only saw this one little guy.
This is the last day for shopping for Christmas, I better get back to the mall :
I believe I already have gifts for the rest of the family.
I think that's enough of the Brazosport area. I just want to mention again our White Christmas here on the Gulf Coast. Hopefully this Spring Break I'll be able to venture out a little further.
So until next time, take care and I'll see you, on the road!!!
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