First Ride - Red River - TX/OK - March 2014
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Thread: First Ride - Red River - TX/OK - March 2014

  1. #1
    Member M C Toyer's Avatar
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    Feb 2014
    North Texas

    First Ride - Red River - TX/OK - March 2014

    26 miles on the odometer on a warm spring day at Delaware Bend: This region was settled before the Civil War and I am searching for the ruins of an anti-bellum plantation home. Much of the land along the south bank was acquired by the federal government in the late 1930s to construct Lake Texoma. Traces of old wagon roads can still be found now used mostly by oil and gas companies still mining active fields which predate the lake, a few hunters and fishermen, and now me and my TW. The inhabitants, small farmers, ranchers and store keepers all left. Numerous ferry crossing points can be found but the seasonal overflow of the river wipes away all traces of the equipment, mostly cable drawn barges. The plantation home was disassembled and its massive hewn beams and hand made bricks used elsewhere to save the labor of starting from scratch. Scattered small family cemeteries are the only testimony that anyone ever lived here and hardly anyone is left to care.

    26 Miles DB 2000.jpg

    The terrain is relatively flat crosscut by small streams and dry washes. In one, not far from an active county road, I came across what appears to be the seat box of a ca 1910-20 roadster or touring car. I salvaged a couple of sections of the top bow hardware for later identification.

    Roadster Wreck 2024.jpg Roadster Wreck 2031.jpg

    How it came to rest here and why it was left is a mystery. Perhaps it just broke down during the WWII shortage of parts, the running gear was stripped and it was just pushed to the side of the road and eventually washed downstream. A more sinister plot might involve young lovers seeking privacy driving off the road in the dark and well, who knows?

    The soil is the Texas mix of sand and clay. When dry it becomes dusty then beach powder consistency; when wet it is a boot sucking gumbo that resembles axle grease or cooking lard. In either case hills are approached with due caution.

    Bourland Creek DB 1813.jpg

    Further upstream the orderly arrangement of flat stones catches my attention through the underbrush. This hand laid revetment and the cast concrete piling are all that remain of an old bridge. Former residents have described it as a rickety iron truss with loose wooden floor planks that clattered until it finally gave way to the heavy drilling rigs of the 1920s that replaced the mule and horse drawn farm wagons. it was just easier to cut a new road but the path of the old can be seen on the ground and from aerial photos leading to the ferry.

    Bourland Bridge Revetment DB 1933.jpg

    Stay tuned - I reached my 5 photo limit
    Last edited by M C Toyer; 07-23-2014 at 09:41 PM.

  2. #2
    Member M C Toyer's Avatar
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    Feb 2014
    North Texas

    March 2014 - Part 2

    The land becomes perfectly flat as I approach the river. The old trees that overhung the ferry road and shaded barefoot boys, genteel ladies in their carriages, and ranchers herding their stock to market, have survived to intertwine their branches to form a cocoon - a Texas Ho Chi Minh Trail. To the north lay Indian Territory through the end of the 19th century and the Five Civilized Tribes and other small bands resettled there mostly were, but you always had to watch out for a few renegades and outlaws.

    Old Ferry Road DB 1808.jpg

    The plantation owner, a Ranger Captain during the days of the Republic, and a Confederate Colonel during the Civil War, had established trade with the federal forts and reservations before and afterwards. The ferry road fronted his home and storehouse - from my old maps I know I am getting close. He was a fierce fighter and local legends suggest he chose this remote location to be safe from former enemies. As Provost Martial and Commander of the Border Battalion he had to control his many conscripts and maintain order among the settlers, a mix of immigrants from both north and south. The Red River Region counties almost all voted against secession and feelings ran strong on both sides of the issue. In 1862 he oversaw the roundup of some 60 suspected Union sympathizers and 40 were hung after a brief trial.

    The plantation slaves had their own crude cabins and cemetery. The owner was not known to be unkind with them but was firm. This dressed stone may mark one of their graves.

    stone 1997.jpg

    These are the only known photos of the plantation home. The top one was taken as the lake was filling and just before the dismantling. They provide a clue to the size of the area of remains I am seeking.

    35-44 composite photo.jpg

    Now fully afoot I press through 70 years of undergrowth and before me stands one of two wells I would find. This one may have been improved later in life with the brick curb. The other is just a rock lined hole in the ground.

    Bourland Well DB 3153.jpg

    Next I find a pile of rubble and fire burned bricks probably from the hearths; then this more orderly pile:

    Bourland Cellar DB SCV.jpg

    Not sure what it is, hidden in the grass. It is too large to be the foundation piers and the porch steps were wooden, not stone. It might have been a chimney base but the dry stacked bricks and cut stones would had been easily salvaged. Why were these left behind? The were rumors of an escape tunnel leading to the river bank - might this have been the entrance or merely a cellar?

    Stay tuned - I'm going to need more men, with shovels.
    Last edited by M C Toyer; 07-23-2014 at 10:54 PM.

  3. #3
    Senior Member B-dub's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Southwest Utah
    Your TW is a time machine! Love the pics, descriptions, and history! I can't wait to hear the rest of the story. Thanks so much for taking us along!
    My handle is B-dub, I ride a T-dub, and drive a V-dub.

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Fred's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
    Turtle Wrangling the Sierras
    Very nicely written, I'll stay tuned

  6. #5
    Member M C Toyer's Avatar
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    Feb 2014
    North Texas

    Part 3 - Calling Out The Troops

    A few years before I actually personally visited the plantation site I had provided my research, maps and suspected locations to the Lee-Bourland Camp of the Sons of Confederate Veterans in Gainesville, TX. As it turned out I was not able to accompany them on several visits in 2010 and 2011. When I went alone this spring the site had returned to a condition similar to what they had found before. These photos of some of the members were taken by the Texas Division 4th Brigade Commander Gary Bray.

    The mission of the SCV is, To honor the memories of those who served, promote knowledge, and cultivate the ties of friendship that should exist among descendants of Confederate soldiers. These boys in gray do that well just as the boys in blue do in their organizations. After battle reenactments, joint camp meetings, and other ceremonial events the old rivalries and divisions fade away and they all share in the brotherhood of those who pledged their very lives and fortunes for a cause in which they truly believed.

    The burial ground of James Bourland and his son-in-law Austin Manion and their families is located near the plantation but on private property. The present absentee owner is 80 years old and unable to care for the cemetery so the first order of business was to locate and clean the site.

    bm cem.jpg

    bm cem 2.jpg

    This is what turned out to be a cellar located beneath the floors of the plantation home.


    These steps probably led to the kitchen; cellars were used for food storage and home banks as well as safety during raids and tornadoes but this one was fairly small.


    A lot of excitement when this was found suspecting it might have been a strongbox but the general consensus was either an oven or fire box for the hearth.

    fire box.jpg
    B-dub, Mel and r80rt like this.

  7. #6
    Super Moderator littletommy's Avatar
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    You are a great writer, thank you so much for the posts!
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    If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

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    For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

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  8. #7
    Senior Member Skyking's Avatar
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    Nov 2011
    Frost, Texas
    This is a good read. Could you give me some exact locations. I might run up there, and have a look later in the year when it cools down some.

    Ride on Daddy-O

  9. #8
    Senior Member admiral's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    Frosty Hollow
    Riding and history are right up my alley. And you cover both very well. I agree, I like your writing to go along with very interesting pictures.
    Hidden Content A ride in the woods helps me relax and release tension. The fact I'm dragging a body should be entirely irrelevant?

  10. #9
    Senior Member 4x4Given's Avatar
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    Jul 2014
    "Home is where we park it"
    M C Toyer,

    You sir, are a credit to Texas, it's heritage and of course the explorer in us all. I want to extend my warmest thanks for the effort you put in to share this with us. Be assured, that we *ARE* reading and following (vicariously) you on this journey back in time. The fact that a TW has a part in this is sure to encourage prospective TW'ers (like my wife and myself) and warm the hearts of those already in the TW "brotherhood".

    Thank you and I hope we shall meet on the trail one day.



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