Traces of Texas Resources
This page is dedicated to Texas-related resources. I will be adding to it on a constant basis, so please check back from time to time. Rest assured that I receive no compensation for any of these endorsements. These are simply links to sites and things that I have found to be valuable.
Texas History and Historical Preservation
Glenn Justice, the managing editor of RimRock Press, has a fascinating website dedicated to Texas history. I actually got lost in it for several days a couple of years ago over the Christmas holidays and only found my way out by way of some chili stains that I'd left along the way. Mr. Justice's approach is sometimes iconoclastic but that's generally how it is with Texans. I've never met him but, when I picture Glenn, he looks like a Sam Elliott character in a 1970's western.
An award-winning University of Texas website devoted to exploring Texas before it was settled by Europeans. The site focuses on archaeological discoveries from around the state. Despite my liberal arts background and my lifelong interest in Texas, there is a lot here that I had never heard about. Wonderful graphics and nice mouseovers when you hover your mouse cursor over each place on the map.
The Handbook of Texas online is a massive, multidisciplinary amalgamation of Texas history, geography, and cultural resources. It is sponsored by the Texas State Historical Association and comes highly recommended.
If you have any interest in the Alamo, this is a "must see" website. These guys are truly experts on the battle. Many of them have written books that you can buy on Amazon.com, and it's truly fascinating to read their debates about such topics as where a door might have been located at the Alamo, the historical accuracy of various accounts of the battle and the different movie treatments etc... They are very friendly but they are experts and they are passionate.
The Daughters of The Republic of Texas Library is dedicated to "advancing the understanding of the unique history of the Alamo and Texas and of the lives of those who experienced it." In order to accomplish this mission, the Library Committee and staff support the selection and acquisition of materials about Texas focusing on the period of the Republic of Texas, 1836-1846.
Website for the relatively new but utterly fascinating Bob Bullock Texas State History Muesum in Austin. Links to current displays and interactive exhibits plus links to other Texas history resources.
The Institute for Texan Cultures tells the history of Texans as viewed through a cultural filter, investigating the ethnic and cultural history of the state and presenting the resulting information via exhibits, programs and, if you can believe it, more than 3.5 million photographs.
Noah Smithwick lived in Texas from 1827 to 1861. He knew Stephen F. Austin, William Travis, Sam Houston etc... personally. In 1900, at the age of 91, he wrote his memoirs of those early times in Texas, leaving behind this astonishing document. It has long been considered one of the great primary resources.
Cabeza de Vaca is undboutedly the toughest man who ever lived. Marooned and stranded in 1527 after an improbable series of calamities, he was captured and enslaved by several indian tribes, hiked several thousand miles, made his way finally to Mexico, and returned to Spain 8 years after he left. There he wrote "La Relacion (The Report)" about his epic adventure. This website presents La Relacion in its entirety.
The Texas State Library and Archives Commission has put together this informative website. It not only includes portraits of each Texas governor but also includes timelines to the historic events that occurred during each governor's time in office as well as samples of letters sent to, and from, constituents.
Texas Culture & Cuisine
The great folks at Texas Dance Hall Preservation have put together a
fantastic non-profit site dedicated to the preservation of these
wonderful structures. There is a treasure trove of information
regarding the history and culture of Texas dance halls. As of right now,
they even have the famous Sisterdale Dance Hall, built in 1890, for sale
on their site.
More than 600 Texas recipes, tons of articles on Texas foods, restaurant reviews and histories, wine reviews etc... I make the black bean migas recipe a couple of times a month and it is excellent. Great website for foodies.
I probably don't need to say anything about Texas Monthly's website. It's huge, varied, a little commercial --- maybe because they've figured out how to actually make money
at this interet thing. Worth a weekly visit.
Louie Mueller Barbecue in Taylor is a legendary Texas barbecue joint, the kind of place at which you want to scrape the patina off the wall, grind it up, and use it as rub. This is their website.
Great website that explores the Tex-Mex cuisine of Austin. Updated nearly every day.
Texas Wild Spaces and Wildlife
The Texas Wild Network Website is exactly what you'd think it would be: a site dedicated to documenting and saving Texas' wildlife and wild places. Lots of interactive features, videos etc... Well worth visiting.
The Big Bend Chat website is the internet's premier forum for the Big Bend region of Texas. It's hard to believe that one site can contain so much information about such a rugged, lonely landscape, but that is exactly what Big Bend Chat serves up. If you're planning a trip out to Big Bend and want to know where to stay, what condition the backcountry roads are in, what wildlife is currently being spotted, or who's on tap at the Starlight Theater in Terlingua, Big Bend Chat is the place to look.
The Nature Conservancy is one of the nation's most venerable conservation groups. This is the website for their Texas chapter. Lots of information on the ongoing efforts to preserve Texas' natural beauty for future generations.
Link to the National Park Services Big Bend Website. Current weather conditions, road conditions, photos, hours of operation and more. The first stop for anybody considering a visit.
Just about everything you ever wanted to know, and some stuff you probably didn't want to know, about armadillos.
Site devoted to the Pileated Woodpecker, Texas' largest woodpecker. If you have ever seen one, they are awesome.
Texas Escapes is probably the premier Texas-related site on the web. From history to travel to architecture to old images, this Texas Escapes has it all. As just one example, it documents 573 ghost towns. That's right: 573! You can spend weeks here if you so choose. I put it here in my travel category because it seems like it would be most useful for those who are out and about, but it could go in several categories.
Great site with oodles (that's right --- oodles!) of information regarding where to travel in Texas. Now if I could only get them to buy some of MY
Staggering collection of maps of Texas. Thousands. Really.
Texas Goods and Services
People ask me about the secret to my barbecue. I hem and haw and talk about exotic ingredients and an ancient recipe given to my great grandfather by a mysterious stranger on a train bound from someplace to nowhere. But the truth is more mundane: I use the brines from Sweetwater Spice company. The bbq bath and brisket bath are my favorites but the turkey bath and the fajita bath are also great. I told myself that I'd try to stay away from commercial endorsements when I started Traces of Texas but this stuff is awesome. If it isn't available in your neck of the woods, you can order it online.
My friend Ken Womack is an amazingly talented artist. Creativity drips from his fingertips, to the point that I'm really forced to contemplate the general unfairness of the universe. I mean, how is it that one person can be so gifted while others among us are forced to thrash it out in the underbrush like art pygmies? Poke around on his website, look at his stuff, and ask yourself if the Gods of Creativity have been fair to you.