Search My-West

"Informative and entertaining, My-West will be a valued destination for westerners and devotees of all things western. Well-written posts, evocative photos and fine art, valuable travel tips, and an upbeat style make this a destination site for travelers and web surfers. Go West!" - Stan Lynde, Award-winning Western novelist and cartoonist
Subscribe to Hit the Road


Entries in Texas (3)


Away in the Menger – Rough Riders Apply at the Bar

By Bennett Owen

Credit: Whalt

For any Wise Man following the Lone Star westward, chances are they’ve spent the night at the Menger in San Antonio, the oldest hotel west of the Mississippi.

Credit: Menger Hotel

Founded by a German immigrant beer brewer in 1859, less than 23 years after the battle of the Alamo, it began as a boarding house but soon gained a reputation for its fine dining, including snapper soup made from turtles caught in the San Antonio river.

Credit: Photograph by Thomas D. Mcavoy for the October 12, 1959 edition of “Life” magazine © Time Inc.

By the late 1880s the Menger was one of the nation’s finest hotels. Its bar was outfitted with solid cherry wood, French mirrors and gold-plated spittoons…good enough for Teddy Roosevelt in 1898 when he recruited his famous Rough Riders to fight in the Spanish American war.

Credit: Roosevelt Rough Riders

The hotel also hosted Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee (we assume not at the same time!), as well as luminaries such as, Elizabeth Taylor, James Dean,  Lilly Langtry, Mae West, Babe Ruth, Oscar Wilde and Dwight D. Eisenhower.

History lovers tend to enjoy staying at the Menger while newlyweds might find the paper-thin walls … um … thin.  

Credit: Kathey Straach/Special Contributor 

The residence also has a reputation as one of the most haunted hotels in the United States, so those late-night clunking noises keeping you awake may not necessarily be the noisy next-door neighbor…


What Lies Beneath

By Bennett Owen

Do we really need any more evidence that everything’s big in Texas? Those million acre fires may be out but the drought that fueled them lingers in THE worst and longest dry spell the Lone Star State has ever recorded. A friend near Austin laments she usually has the fireplace roaring at Thanksgiving … this year the air conditioner was still on full blast.

One unforeseen silver lining is that history is revealing itself throughout the region as man-made lakes recede in the face of the very drought conditions they were supposed to ameliorate. And so, long forgotten villages like Bluffton are revealed for a short while.


Follow this link to see a video of Bluffton.

This gravestone marks the burial plot of a boy who died just short of his first birthday in 1882.


Further north, Lake Texoma has dried up enough to expose Old Woodville, Oklahoma…


An historic railroad town, legend has it that Bonnie and Clyde attended the cock fights here, camping out at a place called Washita Point –

Bonnie and Clyde, March 1933. Credit: Wikipedia

A retreating reservoir in Navarro County, south of Dallas has uncovered an antebellum slave cemetery


And along the southwest border, Falcon Lake has receded enough that the ghost town of Guerrero Viejo is accessible, including its impressive church, Nuestra Señora del Refugio. Unfortunately, it’s also virtually a no-go area due to the drug cartels. Please go to the website for more incredible images.



Seems sometimes it’s just one dam thing after another.  In my part of the world, the Clark Canyon Reservoir sits atop what used to be Armstead, Montana, a rough and tumble outpost that, in the early decades of the 20th century, had bragging rights as the biggest cattle shipping point on the Union Pacific Railroad.  Cattlemen out on Horse Prairie, the Big Hole, the Grasshopper, Blacktail and Centennial would trail their herds into Armstead for loading on a one-way eastward journey to the great feedlots and slaughterhouses of Chicago.    

Credit: NPRHA

One of Armstead’s honored residents was a champion rodeo rider named Alvin Owen who worked four jobs during the depression to keep his wife and two sons fed and who once beat a man to a bloody pulp for calling him a liar, the worst of all insults.  That gave rise to his youngest son’s oft-repeated threat, “be careful what you say or my Daddy will beat the hell outta you!” 

Credit: Montanarailroadhistory

Soft spoken, affable, yet resolute, Alvin Owen went on to found a trucking company that supported Southwest Montana’s economy for well over half a century.  His legacy lives on, though not too many people could pinpoint Armstead anymore. 

Credit: Smokstak

What I remember of the town is limited to the Hershey Bars I’d get at the general store when we drove out for a visit. By the time I was six we were riding over the town in an outboard motorboat. A couple of times since then, water levels have dropped enough to reveal parts of the old highway, the railroad bed and some building foundations. But what’s scarce in Texas is plentiful in Montana. So for now at least, Armstead remains buried in a watery grave.

Credit: Geolocations


Big Medicine in a Small Package

By Bennett Owen

Credit: Fox Dallas Fort Worth

This is no bull…but then again it is.  A rare white buffalo calf has been born on a ranch in north Texas…owned by a Native American descendent of Chief Sitting Bull.  As we all know from my post several days ago on “Big Medicine” a white buffalo is a portent for many plains tribes…and therefore tribal leaders from around the country will be gathering soon to have a look at the newborn critter.  The rancher, Arby Little Soldier, wants to call him “Lightning Medicine Cloud” but the Chiefs will have the final say.  By the way, albinos don’t count. There’s a spec list for the real thing that is long and complicated…

Sacred White Buffalo Born in Texas:

Odds of a white bison birth are about five million to one. That’s about the equivalent of you walking down the street and finding a winning Powerball ticket lying on the sidewalk.  Now add to that the fact that this one was born most likely as I was preparing the post about his stuffed Uncle…that’s really big medicine…