9 Mar 2010, 12:49pm
Automobiles History Roads Travel

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On the road to Bigfoot, Texas

T Fords of Texas at the Bigfoot museum

T Fords of Texas at the Bigfoot museum

Last Saturday, March 6, I had the great pleasure of taking part in a¬†“T Fords of Texas”¬†club cruise around Medina County.¬† Led by Castroville residents Tom Campbell and Wayne McBryde, a group of nine Ts traversed the area‚Äôs handsome back roads under a glowering sky, dense with dark and¬†darker grey clouds, too high to actually rain, but very dramatic.¬† In an open runabout T driven by Gary Bethke, I had the full opportunity to take in the¬†wintry landscape with occasional hints of spring, such as isolated¬†peach and red bud trees in delightfully unexpected full bloom.

 I dressed warmly for the occasion.  We stopped first at an old folks home then moved on from Castroville to a restaurant in Devine.  You find yourself waving to a lot of people along the way.  Yard work, my most disliked obligation, was popular that day.  We headed to Bigfoot in the afternoon and had the opportunity to visit the museum opened in honor of Bigfoot Wallace who ended his tumultuous days in a small cabin at the Medina River nearby in the late 1880s.  Wallace was one of the people who created for the rest of the world the romantic impression that everything is bigger, better, wilder and yet more convivial in Texas.  Reporters and writers sought him out to hear his first hand accounts of his frontier exploits.  Though he claimed Scottish ancestry I think he must have had a good share of Irish blood in him, too.  He never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

¬†Model T events in the early part of the year are particularly rewarding.¬† Before¬†raw heat settles its torpid haze over us for the rest of the year, it‚Äôs¬†worthwhile to experience how our forbears traveled in other kinds of weather.¬† In the 1850s, young Castroville resident August Santleben, who would go on to become the region’s preeminent freight hauler before the arrival of the railroads, accompanied his father on trips to Bastrop in an ox drawn wagon to collect lumber floated up the Colorado River during the winter, to earn extra money while avoiding the heat of summer during such a lengthy trip.

 I did not take the 1924 Ford Model TT truck I usually drive on the cruise because it only moves at 25 MPH, a good ten miles slower than regular Ts.  A person would have to think about driving it anywhere over long distances, though I have been known to navigate it as far as Lavernia, making sure to avoid major roads.  But the TT was positively revolutionary compared to ox or mule drawn wagons, though decidedly louder. 

 There were few mechanical problems that I was aware of on our trip which probably involved around fifty miles of driving, though a few hoods were open at one point or another.  If you are interested in seeing around forty plus Ford Model Ts of every kind, from race cars to heavy duty trucks, plan to visit the Texas Transportation Museum, 11731 Wetmore Road, San Antonio TX 78247 on either Saturday or Sunday, May 1 & 2.  Admission to the T show and the whole museum, including train rides, will be free thanks to the Red McCombs Automotive Group.


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