Focus on the Backroads » Photo Journeys

Focus on the Backroads bio picture

    There is approximately 50,000 miles of Interstate Highway in the United States.....filled with cars traveling at an average of 75 miles an hour. Several years ago I began driving the BACKROADS throughout Texas and the surrounding states - discover many fascinating places and people. While traveling "off the beaten path" I have tried to capture the spirit of these forgotten roads in photographs.

    After sharing some of these journeys with folks I have met I've been encouraged to document my travels.........I invite you to FOCUS ON THE BACKROADS!

    "To often......I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen"
    Louis L'Amour

Focus on the Backroads: Texas Wildflowers

Wildflower (noun)…a flower that grows in natural places without being planted by humans

In a few short weeks the highways and backroads of Texas are going to explode with spectacular color – it’s WILDFLOWER SEASON!  There are more than 5,000 species of flowering plants that are native to the state of Texas.  March through May is the prime blooming months throughout Texas.

Some of the most popular wildflowers are:

  • Bluebonnets, the Texas State Flower:  Bluebonnets start blooming in the middle of March and usually peak by mid-April.
  • Texas Paintbrush: these start blooming at the same time as the Bluebonnets usually in the same areas
  • Indian Blanket:  these start blooming mid-April through May
  • Greenthread:  these bright yellow flowers start blooming in mid-April through June.  There are billions of flowers throughout the fields creating beautiful seas of yellow flowers
  • Winecup:   these magenta flowers bloom from mid-April through June.

Throughout the state of Texas there are designated driving trails with well marked routes.  Most are updated weekly on wildflower watch sites.  If you are ready for a true adventure pack a lunch, water, and of course a camera and hit the backroads!  Remember to FOCUS ON THE WILDFLOWERS.

WARNING: in many of these area there are rattlesnakes please keep that in mind when taking pictures of children.

Also please be careful not to destroy these flowers!

Where flowers bloom so does hope……Lady Bird Johnson 

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From its beginning as an outpost to protect settlers from the indian tribes, through the cattle and oil boom, to current times as a corporate center, the city of Fort Worth has been through many changes but has managed to preserve much of its deep rooted heritage.

In January1849, General William Worth proposed building ten forts to designate where the west Texas frontier began – stretching tom Eagle Pass to  the West Fork and Clear Fork of the Trinity River.  General Worth died of cholera on May 7, 1849.  General William Harney assumed General Worths position.  Under General Harney’s orders, on June 6, 1849, a post was established  on the banks of the Trinity River and named  Camp Worth in honor of General Worth.  The U.S. War Department  officially granted the name “Fort Worth” to the post on November 14, 1849.

Although there were still threats from local tribes, people immediately began settling in the area.  New forts were eventually established further west.  The U.S. evacuated Fort Worth in September of 1853.  The local settlers to possession of the fort site.  The first school was opened in 1854 with 12 students.  Julian Field opened a flour mill and general store in 1856.  Fort Worth also became the western terminal for the Butterfield Overland Mail and the Souther Pacific Stage Line – on their journey west to California.  Fort Worth became know as Where the West Begins.

In 1860 it became the county seat of Tarrant County.  The population at the time was 5,170.  At the time there were 850 slaves in Fort Worth.  The citizens of Tarrant County voted for disunion with the North.  The Civil War and Reconstruction was almost the end of Fort Worth.  The city’s population dropped as low 175 people.  Fort Worth slowly recovered until years later the booming cattle industry accelerated Fort Worth’s growth.  The city became a major resting place for cowboys driving their cattle along the Chisolm Trail to Kansas.  Many of the major cattle buyers in the north established headquarters in Fort Worth which became know as Cowtown.  In 1873 Fort Worth was incorporated  with a major-city council government.  In 1876, the Texas and Pacific Railway arrived in Fort Worth,  the Fort Worth Stockyards became one of the premier centers for the U.S. cattle industry.

In the early 1900, Fort Worth’s economy was boasted further because of oil exploration in surrounding towns.  The city was centrally located, by 1920 there were 12 oil refineries in Fort Worth.  During both World War I and World War II the city population grew because of airfields and training bases locate there.

Today Fort Worth’s population exceeds 700,000 and it is the 17th largest city in the United States.  It is a center for aerospace, energy, banking, entertainment and other major industries.  Fort Worth also is home to several world class art museums including the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the Kimbell Art Museum, the Sid Richardson Museum and others.

From it’s humble beginnings as an outpost to its current status as a major metropolitan area – Fort Worth continues to be proud to be know as THE TOWN OF THE COW.

A few of the many things to do while visiting Fort Worth and the surround area: (way to many to mention them all)

  • Stockyard Station – Fort Worth Stockyard
  • Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
  • Amon Carter Museum of American Art
  • Sid Richards Museum
  • Texas Motor Speedway
  • Bass Hall
  • Casa Mañana
  • Billy Bob’s Texas
  • Bureau of Engraving and Printing
  • Fort Worth Aviation Museum
  • Fort Worth Zoo
  • Fort Worth Botanic Gardens
  • Fort Worth Water Gardens
  • Texas Christian University
  • Six Flags of Texas (Arlington)
  • AT&T Stadium – Home of the Cowboys (Arlington)
  • Globe Life Park in Arlington – Home of the Texas Rangers

Fort Worth, No words could tell its worth – Fort Worth, Texas, Best town on earth.                                                  Fort Worth, Texas, That’s my town!                       Ray Price:  Fort Worth Texas


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Fischer, Texas was established in the 1850’s as a supply center on a section of road, known as the Devil’s Backbone, between Blanco and San Marcos.  Hermann Fischer in 1853, built a log trading post, know as, Fischer’s Store,  to serve the local communities and folks traveling through the area.  The Potters Creek School, the first in Fischer was built in 1875 and a year later the Fischer’s Store post office was established.  Later the building also contained the local bank and saloon.

Fischer Dance Hall was built in 1895 and continues to be operated by descendants of the original family who built it.  Like many of the community halls that were built in Texas during this period Fischer Dance Hall was the social and civic center of the town.  The interior of the hall is amazing with beautiful old hand-hewn beams and rafters.

Fischer Dance Hall has been featured in many movies, including  Willie Nelson’s movie Honeysuckle Rose.

Next door to the hall is the bowling alley where on Fridays folks still enjoy an old traditional german game of “9-pins.  This building was originally a small school house.

When visiting the Texas Hill Country, Fischer, Texas is a must.  This community has changed little in the past 160 years.  The Fischer’s Store has reopened, Wednesday through Sunday afternoons – no telling what Texas treasures you will find there during your visit.

Just up the road from the store be sure and visit the Fischer Dance Hall.  Take a moment and listen – you are sure to hear the music and fun from days gone by.

Music and silence combine strongly because music is done with silence, and silence is full of music.       Marcel Marceau

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Mid-January means only one thing in North Texas, the annual Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo has rolled around again.  This event is kick started each year with the traditional Fort Worth Stock Show’s  All Western Parade, which is held the first Saturday of the of the show in downtown Fort Worth.  An All Western Parade mean that motorized vehicles are not allow to participate – the result are plenty of wagons, horses, and longhorns!  Every year more than 100,000 people of all ages line the streets of Cowtown to see the spectacular event.

Fort Worth proudly wears the title of Cowtown – After the Civil War there were millions of longhorn cattle roaming the Texas plains.  Most of the country’s economy was devastated these Longhorns were a value resource for Texas.  For over two decades, Longhorns were rounded up and driven north to Kansas to be railed across the country.  During this period over six million longhorns made the three month journey north – each head commanded about $40.00 in the Northeast.  Fort Worth benefited greatly as it was the last place for drovers to purchase supplies  prior to their 500 mile journey north.  These cowboys use the, now historic, Chisholm Trail (which will be a subject for a future entry) to drive the cattle overland to Kansas.

The first Stock Show took place in March of 1896.  The second on October 12-13 of the same year.   It was opened by the first Stock Show Parade.  In 1901 it was renamed:  Texas Fat Stock Show.  The first rodeo event occurred in 1904 when Bill Pickett  “The Dusty Demon”  demonstrated his bulldogging (steer wrestling) act.  Pickett invented bulldogging when an angry cow tried to gore his horse – according to Bill, he jumped on the cow and twisted its neck until it fell to the ground.  This gave birth to one of the most popular events in today rodeo arenas.  Bill Pickett is know as Americas first black cowboy and was the first black cowboy elected to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.  Note:  While in Fort Worth be sure and visit the statue of “The Dusty Demon” in the Fort Worth Stockyards.

The rodeo was added to the then Southwestern Exposition and Fat Stock Show in 1918 at the Northside Coliseum becoming the first indoor rodeo event – it was an instant success.  The feature events were Ladies’ Bucking Bronco,  Junior Steer Riding, Men’s Steer Riding, and Men’s Bucking Bronco.  In 1944 the Stock Show was moved to it’s current location, the Will Rogers Memorial Center.  That year Gene Autry became the first entertainer to appear at the rodeo.  In 1958, the rodeo was the first one in the nation to receive complete live coverage on national TV. It was hosted by Roy Rogers and Dale Evens on NBC-TV.

Over the years, many barns, buildings and exhibit halls have been built on the site.  Each year 4-H members show their award winning live stock.  The Rodeo remains one of the best in the nation.  In 2012 the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo broke an all time attendance record.  During it 23 day run more than 1,186,000 folks visited the show.  My granddaughter and I were 2 of those people (we have a pink cowgirl hat to prove it).

A visit to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is a must – it is a great time for people of all ages.  During a visit you will see prize winning livestock raised by some of the nicest young boy and girls you will ever meet.  There are many interesting exhibits, competitions, of course THE RODEO; the ever popular midway, and last but not least – FOOD – corn dogs, turkey legs, funnel cakes, BBQ, nachos, and any thing you could ever think of frying is there!

THE FORT WORTH STOCK SHOW AND RODEO is an event to be share with the whole family.

It’s the broncs and the blood – It’s the steers and the mud – And they call the thing rodeo….RODEO by Larry Bastian 




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Located in the southwestern part of Oklahoma, near Lawton, is the  Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge.  The 59,020-acres are  home to elk, deer, buffalo and other wild life.  It is also a popular area for hiking, rock climbing, camping and other outdoor activities.

This area was established in 1901 when President McKinley proclaimed a portion of the mountains as the Wichita Forest Reserves, managed by the Forest Divsion of the U.S Department of the Interior.  In 1905 President Teddy Roosevelt issued a proclamation creating the Wichita Forest and Game Preserve, which became the nations first big-game animal refuge.  In 1906 3,680 acres was added to the refuge .  In 1907 the park became the Wichita National Forest and Game Preserve.  The area’s name was change again in 1936 when Congress renamed it the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge.  Today over 1,000,00 visitors experience this area every year.

The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge is like an amazing Island as you approach it.  After driving trough Oklahoma flat lands you come upon this wildlife oasis.  A trip to this area is a must for any  Texas (or any other state) Backroader!  The perfect destination for a vacation or a long weekend camping trip.  It is truly where Buffalo Roam.

note:  A must when in the area.  You must visit the Meers Restaurant in Meers, Oklahoma.  Meers, Oklahoma was once a booming gold mining town with a population of over 500 folks.    Meers’ population now consist of one family, their pets and their restaurant and store.  Meers is considered to be the home of the best burgers in Oklahoma – I for one know that this is true!  These burgers are made from Texas Longhorns that are raised on the family’s near by ranch.

The mountains are calling and I must go.    John Muir

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