FROM ANOTHER TIME: A SALUTE TO OUR HISTORICAL HERITAGE

Every Thursday morning I get up early and make ready for the drive to Lubbock to teach my 4300 photography class at Texas Tech University. Some people might think that it’s a drive to dread but on the contrary I consider it my weekly historical tour, viewing the landmarks and remembering passages written by pioneers, explorers and cavalry officers who traveled along and across the paved 125 mile trail known today as Highway 114.

Highway 114 from Benjamin to Lubbock: A Journey into the Past

I was raised on a ranch in Knox County and whose borders meandered alongside Highway 114 for a distance of some 11 miles, ending just south of my hometown of Benjamin. As a young boy growing up on the ranch I developed an interest in paleontology and archeology, riding horseback along the arroyos and ridgelines searching for evidence of ancient man or the remains of those great beasts that roamed the Texas plains over the 12,000 years before our time.  Flint points, fire hearths, and an occasional bison skull hinted of another time when life was fleeting, with the land a challenge to man or beast at every turn. In my horse back forays in search of things from a bygone era, I would often stumble upon items of a younger age such as empty rifle casings from the late 19th century and an occasional deformed slug in a buffalo hunters camp. I did not appreciate these century old artifacts until my adult years when I began to consider the significance of the plains region and its historical heritage relating to early day life and pioneer excursions across the land.

"Our only hope was in going ahead...we pushed on without rudder or compass, the melancholy truth visible in almost every face that we were lost among the wilderness prairies of the west..." The Texas/Santa Fe Expedition, George W. Kendall Journal, August 15, 1841. Photo taken 3.5 miles west of Benjamin at or near the location where Kendall made his journal entry on August 15, 1841.

I believe that in knowing our past is to better understand the present and perhaps foresee to some extent, our path into the future. In my quest to accumulate knowledge about our Texas history I have collected a fine reference library where, by reading the written account of others, I can travel in the days of a younger land and experience vicariously, the adventures of those pioneers such as Kendall, Cook and Carter.

What say lets take a trip from Benjamin to Lubbock and view the land through the written words of those men who lived and experienced a time we can hardly fathom today. Quite honestly, your future trips down Hwy 114 may never be the same again.

"The sixth day we lay over in camp..and the next day we pulled up on the Pease river divide, and got a view of the rear of the great countless mass of buffaloes." Border and the Buffalo. John R. Cook, 1875. This view is Four Mile Hill, a frontier landmark along the buffalo hunters wagon road, north of Guthrie, Texas as seen from Hwy.114.

"We were in a veritable hunters paradise...deer were simply too easy to find..the same for antelope, bear, panther, mountain lion, raccoon, polecat, swift coyotes and wolves- they were all here." John R. Cook. Border and the Buffalo, 1875. This scene is about 4 miles west of Guthrie along Hwy. 114.

"Thus we spent five days and nights in this wolf-besieged camp, with nothing to do and nothing to see but that vast expanse of solitude and wilderness". Capitan R.G. Carter, "On The Border with Mackenzie". 1871. Location is the west rim of the Duck Creek drainage basin west of Dickens, Tx.

"A large and powerfully built chief led the bunch...his face was smeared with black war paint, which gave his features a satanic look. A necklace of bear's claws hung about his neck...it was Quanah, principal war chief of the wild Qua-ha-das." Captain R.G. Carter, "On the Border with Mackenzie." 1871. Journal excerpt describing the U.S. Cavalry push into Blanco Canyon and subsequent battle with the Comanche Indians. Photo taken alongside Hwy. 114 east of Crosbyton, Tx in Blanco Canyon.

"At one time during the day could be seen horses, mules, buffaloes, antelopes, coyotes, wolves, and soldiers all drinking and bathing at one time from this lake...it was one of the greatest aggregations of the animal kingdom ever witnessed on as small a space of land and water." John R. Cook, "Border and the Buffalo". 1877. Recollections of soldiers drinking and bathing in a playa lake on the Llano Estacado. Photo taken along Hwy 114 between Crosbyton and Lubbock.

"There is a long deep waterhole just around the next bend a little above us;" " and there was where he expected to find the camp." John R. Cook. March 1877. Book excerpt describing the hours before the famous battle at Yellow House Canyon between buffalo hunters and Comanche Indians. Photo taken in Mackenzie Park, Lubbock, Texas where the hunters filled their canteens and watered horses and mules after the battle.

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Published in: on March 1, 2010 at 6:55 pm  Comments (14)  

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14 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wyman, I love this blog-posting. This would be a fantastic basis for a book!

  2. This is what I love to hear and see. I feel the same way growing up off the Blackwater draw in Lubbock and now working at the Lubbock Lake Landmark. As always thanks for shedding the amazing light.

  3. Wyman, I always enjoy receiving your blog. You have a real way of telling the story with your camera and narative. Please continue your blog and drop in sometime if you are down this way.

  4. Hi Wyman, this group of photographs and your narrative and quotes touched me greatly today. That particular stretch of Hwy. 114 as well as heading east to Jacksboro and then connecting to US 80 to Minden, LA has been a part of my life since an infant. I memorized all those towns, and that is still my favorite journey. The fact that we lived on 114 for 34 years is no small matter. Best to you all.

  5. Wyman, I love getting this blog while up here in the northeast. I forward it on to all my yankee friends up this way. I’ve convinced a few to come down that way with me in a few weeks and it’s probably because they keep looking at your books and they just have to see this Texas.

  6. Keep telling that history:

    Read the novel, Rescue at Pine Ridge, “RaPR”, where Buffalo Bill Cody meets a Buffalo Soldier. A great story of black military history…the first generation of Buffalo Soldiers.

    How do you keep a people down? ‘Never’ let them ‘know’ their history.

    The 7th Cavalry got their butts in a sling again after the Little Big Horn Massacre, fourteen years later, the day after the Wounded Knee Massacre. If it wasn’t for the 9th Cavalry Buffalo Soldiers, there would of been a second massacre of the 7th Cavalry.

    Read the novel, “Rescue at Pine Ridge”, 5 stars Amazon, Barnes & Noble and the youtube trailer commercial…and visit the website http://www.rescueatpineridge.com

    I hope you’ll enjoy the novel. I wrote it from my mini-series movie of the same title, “RaPR” to keep my story alive. Hollywood has had a lot of strikes and doesn’t like telling our stories…its been “his-story” of history all along…until now. The movie so far has attached, Bill Duke directing, Hill Harper, Glynn Turman and a host of other major actors in which we are in talks with…see imdb.com at; http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0925633/

    When you get a chance, also please visit our Alpha Wolf Production website at; http://www.alphawolfprods.com and see our other productions, like Stagecoach Mary, the first Black Woman to deliver mail for Wells Fargo in Montana, in the 1890’s, “spread the word”.

    Peace.

  7. Wyman, I don’t remember if I told you where my grandad Smith’s Sharp’s buffalo rifle casing ever got off to. A cousin refreshed my memory not long ago. When Grandad died in July, 1971, my aunt took all his best arrow points, including the lance point I have been looking for, and all of the rifle casings and put into a small walnut box, and had put into the lining of his casket, thus they are literally gone to the ages. Another cousin who lived in his house later, came across his tomahawk head when she was moving out of the house two years ago, and knowing that I collected Indian artifacts, brought it to me and have it now in my collection. As to location of where Grandad found those rifle shells, I will, if you want, take you down to the place and let you see for yourself where that old buffalo hunter set up and shot until he got all the animals he wanted or ran out of shells. The knoll is partly in a red clay field, part is in pasture, close to an Indian campsite where I still find points and tools. Lake Creek is about 100 yards away from the little knoll. You would find it an intriguing place. Enjoyed the pictures and dialog of “Highway 114”.

  8. Wyman! I’m so excited to see your blog. I found it searching for your name to tell a friend that’s started photography & has a show coming up. She’s really great & she’s benefit SO MUCH from a workshop with you. I’d love to take one again too, even though I was way over my head in junction;)
    Anyway, great blog. Your class had a profound impact on my life. While I’m not a professional photographer, I take what I learned and can apply it to all aspects of my life. Thank you for that.

    Jamie House (Junction class 2002)

  9. I had a friend tell me once that anybody can take a good picture in Yellowstone or Yosemite but it takes a real talent to show the beauty of our area. Nobody does it better than Wyman!

  10. Enjoyed it – we have read the same books and shared the same imaginings as we traveled the same roads. thanks – it’s good to know that I have a kindred spirit.

  11. Hi, I’m new I would like to welcome all… 🙂

  12. Wyman, Your photos are stunning. I have just written a post which mentions working dogs and would like to use one of your pictures, with a link back to you of course. Please let me know if this acceptable for you? Though I see this blog seems to have been abandoned. write back soon, Thanks

  13. […] other two.  I was not familiar with Wyman Meinzer’s work, but am glad I now know about it.  His pictures capture the beauty of this little corner of the world known as West Texas*.  Do yourself a favor […]

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