Monday, December 19, 2022

Henderson Depot

 I've noticed that the posts I write about museum visits tend to be the least read, and that's saying a lot when only a handful of my 750 posts have managed to claw their way up into the lower 2-digit page-hit level. (My last museum post just barely made it halfway up the 1-digit ladder!) But then again, it's my blog so I'm going to do another museum post so you'll have to turn it off, tune it out, or just plain ignore it.

And I will try to keep it short. (But we'll have to see how that goes!)

As I was heading home after a week of making myself dizzy hiking the same 5 miles of trail in Martin Creek State Park I passed through Henderson Texas, and prominently displayed on my map was the Henderson Depot Museum. A click on the map-bubble for the museum showed that it had opened not quite 30 minutes ago. (Ain't technology great?!)

Being a sucker for all things railroad - and trying to be a little less isolationist - I decided to swing by and see what the parking lot looked like, congestion-wise.

Turns out it was just my kinda parking lot. Mostly, but not completely, empty.

Just enough vehicles that I won't be the only one in there and on display, being judged the whole time by the staff, (one of the curses of introvertism) but not so many that I'd be mingling too closely with the other patrons. (OK, we can blame a little bit of that on introvertism but these are is still COVID times! No matter how many of us are trying to ignore the facts.)

So I decided to check it out and tied down my train - OK Yeah, I don't really have a train (I wish!) so in reality I parked The Van.

Speaking of trains,

with the exception of its name, the depot, which I'll get to in a moment, and this single caboose, which was locked up and inaccessible, both doors (I tried) there wasn't much railroad to this museum. 

Disappointing to a train-geek, but not a disaster to a history-nerd.

Like many of these community style museums funding and exhibits are mostly through local donations and volunteer labor. Yes, that can make things a little quirky but I've visited several of these types of museums that have turned out to be be really interesting. And since they tend to focus on local stuff, I have often learned things I'm not likely to come across otherwise. 

For instance, where else would I learn that the handful of houses located just outside the entrance to the State Park I had been staying at are sitting on the site of Harmony Hill?

Quite a little town in the mid 1800's that, in addition to nearly a dozen shops and a furniture factory, included a Masonic Hall, a race-track (horse) and a number of thriving taverns. (apparently even the Mercantile did a booming "adult beverage" business out the back door on race days!)

An assortment of butter-making equipment

At $3 a pop, $2 for seniors, this museum certainly isn't supplementing its funding at the door. In fact, when I pulled out the single $20 bill I carry folded up between my credit cards, where it will stay for months, even years, since I pretty much always use cards for everything, the woman at the front just waved me on through saying it wasn't worth dealing with the change. (I offered my card but she didn't want to mess with that either. - I know. I know. I've got so much charm and good-looks I'm dangerous! - See! I told you I'm dangerous! At least one of you just laughed so hard you nearly choked!)

The museum is called The Depot because that's what they started with, but now they've expanded and most of the inside displays are housed in a new building while the depot itself is used mostly as a community gathering space and class room.(They actually have another classroom in the new building too which tends to suggest a lot of school field trips.)

The new building houses an eclectic array of exhibits

that tell and illustrate the local history

as well as the lifestyle


of anywhere from a couple centuries to a couple of decades ago.

And yes, when I saw this dress, which was apparently worn by one of the early 20th century school teachers, I had to look behind it to see if they had pinned up the fabric back there.


Like this outfit displayed elsewhere in the museum, what you see is what you get.

Those were some svelte women!

But as this 1930 photo shows, not everybody was skinny back then! - Just more of us than today - - -

Outside the main building some displays, such as an open-air, steam-powered saw-mill and this carousel, are fenced off waiting on the slow process of volunteer-driven restoration.

 Others, like this typical 5-room dogtrot home, are open and ready for self-guided exploration.

I'm not sure what it says about me, but when I walked into its 1900's kitchen I was struck by how comfortable I felt in there and that got me to looking around and thinking, and I decided I could manage very well, and happily, in a space like this.

No soft-close drawers, automatic ovens, exotic counter-tops and back-splashes. All the things that, based on the house hunting and renovation shows of today, we just can't live without!

There's also a complete cotton gin sitting on the museum grounds and this is the two- cylinder Anderson oil engine that ran everything in the gin through a series of leather belts.

You can get a sense of the scale of this thing from the cut-down milk jug and the pails.

Those two tubes on the top are the cylinders,

each of which produces 55 hp!

Elsewhere on the grounds are an assortment of 'town' buildings such as the doctor's office, a general store, and a printer's, along with a covered area full of old farming tools and implements, but in a (clearly failed) attempt to keep this post short I'm going to skip all that.

Except for this.

This is the remnants of a small broom-making shop opened in 1933 by Jesse Rogers, 20 years old at the time, after completing a course at the Austin school for the blind.

Here he supported himself, and eventually his family, making brooms, whisk brooms, and mops by touch day after day right up until he died in the mid 1980's

Anyway, I think there's a lot of value to be found in these little community style museums and though posts about them don't seem to generate much interest, whenever I can force myself into one of them I expect I'll continue to spit into the wind - I mean post about it.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Cheating or Really Intelligent Use of Resources?


A few months ago I included this photo in a post.

In that post I mentioned that this tree, which is laying across one of the trails on our property, has been slowly settling and now I can't get under it without ducking. I also mentioned that for now, instead of doing something more permanent to resolve the issue, it would be just one more place where I'd have to learn to duck while doing my laps.

Well apparently I don't learn very well.

 A few days ago, with weighted pack on my back and head down as my little feet chugged along trying to keep up with the brisk pace, I ignored the need to duck and for my insolence promptly got knocked flat on my ass.

There was an exceedingly loud crack as my skull was driven back into my neck. Like an encore this was followed with stars, some one-sided, less than family-friendly discussion, and a healthy dose of dumb-ass-you-deserve-it pain. But yet again, with some unfathomable stubbornness, I just carried on without doing anything about the situation other than resolving to do a better job of remembering to duck.

Then yesterday, after making it past the spot unscathed on my outbound trip, that damn tree reached out and dope-slapped me upside the head again on the return trip. Thankfully it was just a light, glancing blow this time, but unless I was ready to start wearing my hardhat and a neck-brace when doing laps, clearly something had to be done about this!

Soo - - - Nope, trusty pruning saw, which even though it hardly ever refuses to start when I need it to, is 10 inches.

Tree: about 14 inches.

Damn! The math, even new math, or whatever confusing crap they're experimenting on our kids with nowadays, just doesn't want to work.

No problem.

I have two chainsaws, both of which are large enough for the job.

But neither one of them is a Stihl, (Ever notice that almost all the people on those off-grid shows that rely on their tools for survival have Stihl chainsaws?) and both of them fight me in different ways.

The small one's carb is all out of wack (I suck at carburetors!) so it is very difficult to start and then keep running.

The big one starts fine, though it idles like crap, but I can't seem to keep the chain properly adjusted. If I don't stop every couple of minutes to re-tighten the chain it throws itself off the bar creating a hell of a mess.(Yes - the chain gets all tangled up too, but mostly it scares the crap out of me every time!)

Besides, with 2-stroke fuel and bar-oil both these saws are stinky and messy and noisy and heavy.

But hey!

I've got a 6 ounce roll of surveyors tape sitting right there on my computer desk! (Doesn't everybody?!)

So back up over the ridge with tape in my pocket

And, with a surplus of intelligence and trail-smarts, problem solved!

I left the tails long enough that even if I'm leaning wearily into my pack with head down as I crank out the steps I'll be able to see it in plenty of time to duck.

At least that's the plan - - -

This is a 34 second video, with narration, of me successfully negotiating the downed tree this morning on the outbound trip.

If that's too long for you here's a 14 second quick-action version of the inbound trip. (Actually I hope one or both of them actually works. I haven't figured out how to test the embedded videos. Maybe after the post is published?)

Now y'all might be wondering why I put up with a less than perfect trail. Why don't I just put on my big-girl panties and get out there and clear things out properly?

I do go out there maybe once a year and trim some of last year's growth back, but not by too much. You see, I'm under the delusion that all the weaving and twisting and turning and ducking a less than perfectly cleared trail forces me to do is better for me. That it works a broader range of muscles, improves my flexibility, and keeps my sense of balance tuned up. (If I'm wrong please don't tell me! Just leave me with my happy delusions.) 

Alright. Much as I'd like to ignore it and leave y'all thinking I'm a genius, here's the reality edit: 

I wrote this a few weeks ago and in a perfect world I'd be able to say that was the end of it, but - - - well - - -

Just to remind me that I'm not quite as smart as I think I am, over the next couple of weeks I picked up a few more divots in my head.

Not on that big tree! That fix has been working great. But apparently, now that I don't have to worry about the big stuff, there are a few smaller obstacles in head's way that feel like they can make themselves bashly (brashly?) known.

Fortunately the small stuff - such as this one which, even though it's right at eye-level where it can hardly be missed has still clipped my hat off a few times - doesn't hurt quite as much, but it is still annoying.

So, if a fix works once it should work again - right?

I hope so!

And since I'm not quite as dumb as I look, I've stashed a supply of head-knocker-tape in my GPS case where I can quickly get to it whether I'm stopping to pick up my hat, busy rubbing the pain out of a new head-divot, or laying flat on my back wondering what the hell just happened.