We took a short road trip with our 5th wheel to Brenham and Washington, Texas. (This was actually on Sunday, April 19, but hey, I needed P words on Saturday!) After parking the 5th wheel at Artesian RV Park, we headed up to Washington, Texas. Hunger had us searching for food before we entered the state park. We found R Place
inside H.A. Stolz Groceries historic building. For lunch we had chicken salad sandwiches and German potato salad. That hit the spot. I had a Blue Bell Butter Pecan ice cream cone for dessert.
|R Place cafe inside this historic building|
|R Place interior|
|Ice cream almost gone!|
Thank you to Bob for coming up with the parallels and suggesting this as a topic for today's blog. Washington-on-the-Brazos in Washington, Texas; and Champoeg State Park in Butteville, Oregon. What do they have in common? As it turns out, quite a bit.
Washington, Texas is the birthplace the Republic of Texas, an independent nation. In 1836, 59 representatives of the Texas settlements met in Independence Hall to make a formal declaration of independence from Mexico. Sam Houston was sworn in as the first president of the new Republic in West Columbia, Texas.
|Independence Hall, Washington-on-the-Brazos|
At the time, Washington was a booming community because it was located on the Brazos River. Steamboats brought goods and people from the Gulf of Mexico; in turn transporting cotton from the plantations to the port in Galveston. Also in town, was one of the only ferries across the deep and swift Brazos River. People came from miles around to use the ferry across the Brazos, waiting up to four days for their turn to cross.
|The Brazos River at the old ferry crossing|
Washington, Texas, was asked if they wanted a railroad station. Because Washington had recently spent money dredging the river for the steamboats, they had to decline a station for the railroad. The railroad went through Navasota, Texas instead. When railroads became the quick, new way to ship cotton and goods, Washington became a ghost town.
Now, Washington-on-the-Brazos is a State Historic Site.
Seven years later out in Champoeg (pronounced sham-POO-ee), Oregon, a discussion was being held as to who possessed the disputed Oregon Country, the United States or United Kingdom.
In May 1843 a meeting was held at the town to determine whether a provisional government should be established. At the meeting, the measure passed 52 to 50. Nine representatives were named to create a provisional government with Champoeg as the capital. A petition was drafted and sent to the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C.
The petition was presented to Congress in 1845. Possession of the Oregon Country was settled in 1846 with the Oregon Treaty. When the Oregon Territory was organized in 1848, however, Champoeg was not chosen as the capital.
By 1852, Champoeg had a ferry across the Willamette River, a warehouse, a steamboat landing, a granary, a telegraph office, and a major crossroad for the surrounding areas. The town continued to exist after statehood, but in 1861 a flood crested 55 feet over its normal summer stage. The town was covered in seven feet of water and all buildings were destoyed except two saloons.Some of the town was rebuilt, but in 1890 another large flood sealed the town's fate.
Today the area is Champoeg State Heritage Area. When you visit, you can still see the straight rows of trees which had been planted along the avenues. Archeological excavations around the townsite's 10 north-south streets and six east-west streets turn up silverware, pottery and glassware.
The Heritage Area includes a visitor center, 1860's-style garden, Newell House Museum, Pioneer Mothers Memorial Cabin Museum, and the Butteville General Store, the oldest operating general store in Oregon. (We used to live one-half mile from the general store on the bank of the Willamette River.)
Those are the parallels of two historic cities that eventually became ghost towns.
As we were driving back to Brenham from Washington-on-the-Brazos, the rain pounded down on us. We took a different two-lane road back to the RV park so we could see new scenery.
As we were driving in the pouring rain, we came upon two horseback riders loping along in the middle of our lane, with a pick-up truck escort.
We didn't want to pass because etiquette around horses on roads dictates you don't pass unless you're waved on. We were behind them at least five minutes going 5-10 mph when the guys in the pick-up truck finally waved us on. About a mile farther along the road, we encountered about six more people riding horses and what looked like a float from a parade. A long line of cars was backed up behind them. It was still pouring rain, buckets and buckets of rain!
A number of cars were able to pass the group of horses, riders and float. We were still stuck behind them when it started to hail. Not just little hail, hail the size of peas, marbles and quarters. It pounded so hard on our pick-up truck we yelled at the top of our voices, but couldn't hear each other over the loud hail hitting the truck. The truck was pelted with hail.
The float, horses and riders, had to pull off the road and found a bar's
closed parking lot which they quickly entered. The horseback riders all
got under the roof of the float. The horses were jumping with every
piece of hail that hit them. One smart horse escaped and ran into a
|Hail on the hood of the pick up.|
There was nowhere to take shelter from the hailstorm, so we were pelted for five minutes. Bob's truck now has small pock marks in the hood and roof from the hail!
|Hail on the side of the road|
The whole road was covered in hail. It was like driving on ice marbles. Bob drove very carefully. Soon it was over, the sun came out and you'd never know there had been a severe storm.
We headed back to Artesian RV Park. Here's some photos of our site.
Our brains were quite full from the history we learned at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site. There is still lots to see there, so we will return tomorrow to see what we missed today.