The Unknown Photographer

During the Depression, itinerant photographers hawked their services from town to town. All we know about this one is that he passed through Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1934. And that he was very good indeed.

Only one man in town today remembers him, even vaguely, although he took 560 pictures of Corpus Christi businesses and the people in them during the month of February, 1934. He kept no receipt book, and didn’t put the usual commercial stamp on any of his prints. In spite of a diligent search, which has been successful in identifying most of his subjects, no hint has come to light of who the photographer was. Read more »

Part Iii What Can We Do About It?

For more than two hundred years, Americans have tried to change the weather by starting fires, setting off explosions, cutting trees, even planning to divert the Gulf Stream. The question now is not how to do it, but whether to do it at all.

RAIN MADE TO ORDER: PRELIMINARY EXPERIMENTS IN TEXAS PROVE SUCCESSFUL . The headline might be yesterday’s, but in fact it appeared in August 1891. At that time, an expedition funded by Congress was traveling through the drought-stricken Southwest trying to make rain by aerial explosions. Its early reports exuded optimism, as though the United States, its land frontier erased, had now begun the taming of the weather. Read more »

Texas Faces The Camera

The Lone Star state as it once was—proud, isolated, independent, the undiluted essence of America forever inventing itself out of the hardscrabble reality of the frontier

The Texans on these pages are a vanishing species, born of the vast and varied geography of the toughest frontier. The Republic of Texas was wrested from Mexico one hundred and fifty years ago, and its brief history as a separate nation helped convince Texans that they were a special breed of Americans. Read more »

“Texas Must Be Ours”

On the 150th anniversary of Texan independence, we trace the fierce negotiations that brought the republic into the Union after ten turbulent years

From the moment he entered the White House in March 1829, Andrew Jackson of Tennessee turned a cold and calculating eye on Texas. Sitting in his study on the second floor of the mansion, maps strewn around the room, the white-haired, sharp-featured, cadaverous President breathed a passion for Texas that was soon shared by other Americans. Read more »

Liquid Assets

A Texas Pioneer’s Unusual Gift to His City

Henry Rosenberg arrived in Galveston, Texas, in 1843, a nineteen-year-old Swiss fabric apprentice with an eight-dollar-a-week job waiting for him. When he died fifty years later he was a wealthy banker, and had developed considerable feelings of gratitude to the city that had made him rich. Many would-be benefactors consider donating libraries; Rosenberg gave the city a fine one. But he had another idea as well, one which developed into a civic legacy unusual even in a city known for its elaborate architecture.Read more »

Lady Bird Johnson Remembers

The former First Lady looks back on the years with Lyndon and discusses her life today

When Lady Bird Johnson stops by the post office in Stonewall, Texas, to mail a letter, or waves to the tourists visiting the Johnson Ranch, or rides in the elevator of the LBJ Library in Austin, she is greeted with delighted smiles—sometimes of immediate recognition, sometimes of surprise—but always of pleasure. Her unassuming and invariably friendly presence is obviously one of the treasures of central Texas. Read more »

Rendering The Alamo

On the morning of March 6,1836, a band of 187 Texas revolutionaries died at the hands of some three thousand Mexican troops within the crumbling pile of stones called the Alamo. The romance that still hovers about the place already was flourishing a decade after the massacre, a fact that led a young Mexican War volunteer to make the earliest known paintings of the Alamo—published here for the first time—and to participate in what was almost certainly the first (albeit minor) historical preservation project in the history of the United States Army. Read more »

The Big Thicket

A Last Link with the Living Frontier


The Big Thicket is an ecological wonder. This dense forest, sprawling between the Sabine and Trinity rivers in east Texas, constitutes a natural crossroads for plant and animal species from almost every part of the country. No less remarkable is the pioneer way of life that still flourishes where the dwindling generation of settlers’ descendants live in the Thicket’s leafy shadow, just fifty miles from downtown Houston. Read more »

Texas Became Texas

The twentieth century blew into Texas one year and nine days late. On January 10, 1991, two veteran oilmen named Patillo Higgins and Anthony F. Lucas brought in a towering gusher of oil at Spindletop, a scrubby mound just outside the sleepy rice-market town of Beaumont. Until that day, the Texas economy had prospered on cotton and cattle; although pioneer oilmen had tapped a field near Corsicana in 1894, all but a trickle of America’s oil was still being produced east of the Mississippi. Read more »

¡Recuerda El Alamo!?

∗Remember the Alamo

The patriotic story that most Americans call to mind when they remember the Alamo is largely mythology, and it is a mythology constructed on the northern side of the border. The facts of that short, bloody prelude to our war with Mexico are just as grim but far less romantic. Read more »