Exploring the Cosmos at the Johnson Space Center

March 29, 2024 | By

When in Houston, do as the astronauts do. That means investigate moon rocks, attend mission briefings, and see how you fill out a space suit.

Frolicking Among the Bluebonnets at Fort Parker State Park

February 29, 2024 | By TH Staff

This photo from the Texas Highways archives shows a handsome couple—and their handlers—frolicking in a bumper crop of bluebonnets at Fort Parker State Park.

When Texas Highways Became the Official Travel Magazine of Texas

January 19, 2024 | By Traces of Texas

Decades before Texas Highways became a public-facing travel magazine, it was known by the slightly less charming name Construction and Maintenance Bulletin, an internal publication for employees of the Texas Highway Department (now the Texas Department of Transportation).

A Christmas Feast for San Antonio’s Newsboys

November 21, 2023 | By Traces of Texas

Thanks to the annual Newsboys’ Christmas Dinner in San Antonio, newsboy Gregorio Cortez was able to delight in a slice of pumpkin pie at the Alamo City’s Gunter Hotel on Dec.

‘Slinging’ Sammy Baugh’s Groundbreaking Football Career

September 19, 2023 | By Traces of Texas

“Slinging” Sammy Baugh, pictured here as quarterback for the Washington Redskins (now Commanders), embodied Texas toughness, tenacity, and loyalty.

What Happened to the Wild Bunch, the Most Notorious Train Robbers in the Old West?

August 22, 2023 | By Traces of Texas

While the men pictured appear respectable, they were actually infamous outlaws—members of what was known as the Wild Bunch, the most notorious group of train robbers in the Old West.

The Rise of San Angelo

July 25, 2023 | By Traces of Texas

Photographer M.C. Ragsdale, who took this photo of San Angelo with the newly built Tom Green County Courthouse in the background, found his photography business taking off in tandem with the nascent town.

Early 20th Century Anglers Dropped Their Lines in Salado Creek

June 27, 2023 | By Jac Darsnek

The impulse to get away from the grind of daily life is not a new one.

In the Early 1900s, Port Arthur Was Home to an Opulent Hotel Fit for the East Coast

May 30, 2023 | By Jac Darsnek

The opulent Sabine Hotel in Port Arthur was nearing completion in 1897—note the scaffolding on the far left.

Meet Isabella Neff, the Mother of Texas State Parks

May 2, 2023 | By Traces of Texas

Gov. Pat Neff, who established the Texas State Parks Board in 1923, wasn’t the only member of his family who played a crucial role in developing Texas’ parks system.

Snake Farms Were Big Business in the 1900s Rio Grande Valley

March 28, 2023 | By Traces of Texas

Nobody knows what compelled Joe Guerrero to make his living handling rattlesnakes. But as this circa 1908 photo shows, that’s exactly what he did while working for Frank B.

A Local Boy’s Pioneering Efforts To Protect the Big Thicket in East Texas

February 28, 2023 | By Traces of Texas

The Big Thicket of Southeast Texas is one of Earth’s most biodiverse regions, home to more than 4,300 documented species of plants, animals, and insects.

A Playful Day at Barton Springs in Austin

January 24, 2023 | By Traces of Texas

In 1837, settler William “Uncle Billy” Barton moved his family to a remote Hill Country creek near its confluence with the Colorado River.

The Curious Historical Trend of Photographing Children in Goat-Drawn Carts

December 29, 2022 | By Traces of Texas

Given the ubiquity of cell phones today, it’s hard to believe photographers once carved out a living taking novelty pictures of kids in goat carts.

The Tex-Mex Christmas Tradition of Tamales

November 23, 2022 | By Traces of Texas

Stocking up to make tamales for the holidays, Maria Moreno stopped by a San Antonio shop to buy corn husks on Nov.

Finding Isolation on Pinto Canyon Road in West Texas

October 27, 2022 | By Jac Darsnek, Traces of Texas

Even today, Pinto Canyon Road in the Chinati Mountains of far West Texas is a lonely place.

A Look At Terlingua’s Chili Origins

September 29, 2022 | By Traces of Texas

The so-called Great Chili Confrontation started on Oct. 21, 1967, when journalists H. Allen Smith and Wick Fowler met in Terlingua for a cookoff to decide who could make the best chili.

The Texas Vintage Motorcycle Museum Introduces Johnson City to the Wild Side

August 25, 2022 | By Clayton Maxwell

El Paso Artist Tom Lea’s ‘Pass of the North’ Is an Enduring Tribute to His Homeland

August 25, 2022 | By Traces of Texas

El Paso native Tom Lea, born in 1907, wore many hats over his 93 years, among them muralist, illustrator, historian, novelist, and World War II artist correspondent.

A Family Photo Depicts a Blacksmith Shop in Keller

July 28, 2022 | By Traces of Texas

With a population of close to 50,000, Keller is now a substantial Dallas-Fort Worth suburb, but it was a small rural community when this photo was taken in about 1915.

Rinsing Wagons in the San Antonio River

June 30, 2022 | By Traces of Texas

Though small by Texas standards, the San Antonio River has played an outsized role in the state’s history.

Cockfighting Flourished in Texas in the Early 1900s

May 26, 2022 | By Traces of Texas

Cockfighting goes back to ancient times when cultures including the Greeks and Persians pitted roosters against one another for entertainment.

Boerne’s Hill Country Charm and Texas-German Heritage Fuel a Weekend of Fun

April 28, 2022 | By Jacqueline Knox

A 1920s Modernist Interpretation of Texas Bluebonnets

February 24, 2022 | By Traces of Texas

Everett Gee Jackson didn’t plan to become an artist. Born in Mexia in 1900, Jackson enrolled at Texas A&M University in 1918 to study architecture.

Raising ’em Right for Stock Show Season

January 27, 2022 | By Traces of Texas

Remembering the Beaton Hotel of Corsicana’s Oil Boom Days

December 23, 2021 | By Traces of Texas

A Traveling Show Rolls into Small-Town Texas in 1921

November 24, 2021 | By Traces of Texas

The Old Nighthawk No. 2 in Austin

October 28, 2021 | By Traces of Texas

Sheriff Rufe Jordan Kicks Back with Honey

September 23, 2021 | By Traces of Texas

The Legend of Pioneering Black Rodeo Cowboy Bill Pickett

August 26, 2021 | By Traces of Texas

A Nocturnal Motorist Stops for Gas at a San Augustine Sinclair Station in 1939

July 29, 2021 | By Traces of Texas

Burklee Hill Vineyards Brings New Life to Kress Department Store in Lubbock

July 9, 2021 | By June Naylor

Located in a beautifully renovated 1930s Kress department store building, the winery opened in March 2020, and serves about a dozen wines.

Boaters Pose in Front of the Marble Falls Around 1900

June 24, 2021 | By Traces of Texas

The Raising of Galveston After the 1900 Hurricane

May 27, 2021 | By Traces of Texas

A Chili Queen Holds Court in 1904 San Antonio

March 25, 2021 | By Jac Darsnek, Traces of Texas

The Carrasco Sisters Teenage Musical Duo of 1920s Canutillo

October 29, 2020 | By Jac Darsnek, Traces of Texas

A Not Completely Serious 19th-Century Portrait

September 24, 2020 | By Traces of Texas

A Peaceful Day on the Guadalupe River in Kerrville in 1910

June 25, 2020 | By Traces of Texas

A 1939 Photograph Captures Fishermen on a Corpus Christi Pier

May 28, 2020 | By Traces of Texas

Lady Bird’s Legacy: Preserving Natural Beauty

March 15, 2020 | By

Wildflower Photo Contest Winner: Spangled Up In Bluebonnets, 1954-Style

February 27, 2020 | By Traces of Texas

An April 1943 Day on the San Augustine Square

January 30, 2020 | By Traces of Texas

Happy and Carefree Days at the Old Store on Clear Creek

December 27, 2019 | By

Photo: Fort Worth families made the most of this snowy day in January 1889

November 27, 2019 | By

Vintage Photo: Gone Fishing

October 31, 2019 | By

World War I is over, and the Jazz Age is on. Prohibition is the law of the land. Bootleggers are running booze, flappers are pushing social mores, and the Great Depression is brewing. None of that concerns Johnny and James Hayes, though. All they can think about is a giant catfish. Everything about this photo, taken by their father, Dallas Times Herald photographer James (Denny) Hayes, is period-perfect: the knickers, the caps, the cans of worms, and the cane poles. While we don’t know where in Dallas the photo was taken, the city—home to about 200,000 then—was growing rapidly. It’s a Texas that no longer exists, a place of sweet memories. Both boys later became photographers themselves. But on this day, there are fish to be caught, and little else matters.

Traces of Texas Is on a Quest to Preserve the State’s Past Through Photography

October 13, 2019 | By Emily Roberts Stone, Editor in Chief

“Somebody should photograph all this vanishing Texas before it’s forever lost.” What began as a chronicle of one man’s love affair with a state became one of the biggest online communities devoted to the history, people, and culture of the Lone Star State.

Vintage: High School Homecoming Heritage in Fort Worth

September 30, 2019 | By

Fort Worth photographer Calvin Littlejohn (1909-93) captured this Friday night scene, complete with traditional homecoming mums, at I.M. Terrell High School. The school opened in 1882 as Fort Worth’s first black school under segregation and operates today as the I.M. Terrell Academy.

Remembering a Classic Game of the Old Longhorn-Aggie Thanksgiving Football Rivalry

August 21, 2019 | By

The Texas Longhorns had lost 10 straight games when they welcomed the Texas A&M Aggies to Memorial Stadium in Austin for the 1938 edition of the annual Thanksgiving rivalry.

Century-Old Image Captures a Bastrop County Mining Band

July 23, 2019 | By

In the first half of the 20th century, Bastrop County was a hotbed for lignite mining as companies extracted the low-grade coal for fuel. The mine companies recruited workers from Mexico, and several mining towns sprang up between Bastrop and McDade. In the town of Phelan, a community band took shape, performing throughout the county in concerts and parades. This picture of the Phelan Band was taken about 5 miles north of Bastrop at the Glenn-Belto Mine during a Diez y Seis de Septiembre celebration. This spring, the Bastrop County Historical Museum opened a new permanent exhibit documenting the local coal-mining boom.

Vintage Mural in Hamilton Post Office Depicts Texas Rangers Singing in Camp

June 24, 2019 | By

Across Texas, murals in post offices and other buildings date to a New Deal-era federal program designed to put artists to work while beautifying public places with depictions of local culture. About 90 such murals survive in the state, including painter Ward Lockwood’s Texas Rangers in Camp in the post office in Hamilton, a Central Texas town. “From the spontaneous remarks of visitors in the post office, I am sure that the mural is the most popular one I have done,” once wrote the late artist, a member of the famed Taos Society of Artists who was teaching at the University of Texas at Austin when he created the work. Shauna Melde, a 33-year post office employee, says the painting remains popular. “People in Hamilton frequently say they remember coming in as kids and seeing the mural,” Melde says. —John Lumpkin

Photo: Vintage Postcard Depicts Galveston’s Seawall Boulevard in the 1940s

May 22, 2019 | By

The balmy excitement of a summer evening on Seawall Boulevard suffuses this vintage Galveston postcard. While the image is undated, the buildings point to the era of the 1940s and ’50s. Existing landmarks include the seawall, which the city constructed after the hurricane of 1900; the 1911 Hotel Galvez, still in operation; and Murdoch’s Bathhouse, a souvenir shop that has been rebuilt multiple times since the late 1800s. The postcard also depicts landmarks lost to time: the wooden Mountain Speedway roller coaster, built in 1921 and knocked down after Hurricane Carla in 1961; the 1929 Buccaneer Hotel, an 11-story building demolished in 1999; and, stretching over the water, the 1923 Balinese Room, a pier that succumbed to Hurricane Ike in 2008 and was famous for its history as an illegal casino.
Know of any fascinating vintage Texas photographs? Send copies or ideas to [email protected].

Photo: The Texas Basket Company in the 1930s

April 30, 2019 | By

This undated photo of a Crystal City farmer driving a truck packed with spinach baskets hangs on an office wall at the Texas Basket Company in Jacksonville, which celebrates its 100th year of operation in 2019 (see “A Century of Baskets,” Page 22). Crystal City, the seat of Zavala County, is a hub of South Texas’ Winter Garden Region, where winter conditions are prime for growing spinach, onions, carrots, and broccoli. Before the introduction of plastic bushels, regional spinach farmers were big customers of Jacksonville wooden-basket factories. Zavala County remains Texas’ top producer of spinach, and Crystal City celebrates the harvest every November with its Spinach Festival.

The Surrender of Santa Anna

March 28, 2019 | By

In 1886, 50 years after the Battle of San Jacinto, Austin painter William Henry Huddle set out to interpret a critical scene from the conflict with his painting, The Surrender of Santa Anna. Huddle’s oil-on-canvas work, which has hung in the South Foyer of the Texas Capitol since 1891, depicts the morning after the April 21, 1836, clash as Texian fighters presented Mexican Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna, dressed in the white pants of a private, to Texas Gen. Sam Houston, who is reclined with a battle wound to his leg. The decisive victory secured the rebels’ independence from Mexico, a turning point Texas honors annually on April 21, known as San Jacinto Day. Huddle’s painting includes more than 30 historical figures, among them scout Erastus “Deaf” Smith (seated on a log), Secretary of War Thomas Jefferson Rusk (to the rear left of Houston), and Col. Mirabeau B. Lamar (left of Rusk).

The 50th Anniversary of LBJ’s Return to his Texas Hill Country Ranch

February 28, 2019 | By

A 1930s Photograph Shows CCC’s Role in Building Big Bend National Park

January 29, 2019 | By

Big Bend National Park was little more than a hopeful idea when about 200 young men arrived in the Chisos Mountains in 1934 on deployment with the Civilian Conservation Corps. Hungry for work amid the hardship of the Great Depression, the workers, ages 18 to 25 and mostly Hispanic, toiled in isolated, harsh conditions to construct infrastructure for what was then Big Bend State Park. The CCC established a camp in the shadow of Casa Grande peak—still the location of the Chisos Basin campground—and blasted 10,000 truckloads of rock to build Green Gulch Road from the desert floor into the basin. A second CCC crew stationed in Big Bend from 1940 to 1942 built the popular Lost Mine Trail, a store, and four cottages that have been used for lodging since the national park opened in 1944.

Remembering Texas Highways Founding Editor Frank Lively

December 18, 2018 | By Jill Lawless, editor emeritus

We lost a true Texas treasure on Nov. 18 with the passing of travel industry titan and Texas Highways founder Frank Lively at age 90. In May 1974, Frank repurposed an internal highway department publication into a travel magazine—in his words, a “showpiece for Texas.” Within a year, the Texas Legislature had named the 33-page monthly “The Official Travel Magazine of Texas,” declaring that “every effort be made to enlarge its growing family of readers.”

Downtown Christmas Lights in the Capital City in 1947

November 28, 2018 | By

Austin had a population of about 115,000 when photographer Neal Douglass took this picture of Congress Avenue looking north to the Texas State Capitol on New Year’s Day 1947. The streetscape has changed over the past 71 years, and Austin has grown 10-fold to about 1 million people. But the electric Paramount Theatre sign, which was replaced in 2015, and the State Capitol building, which was completed in 1888, still anchor the storied strip.

On the West Texas Frontier, Judge Roy Bean Doled Out Justice as the ‘Law West of the Pecos’

October 24, 2018 | By

Perched on a dusty ridge overlooking the Rio Grande, the tiny town of Langtry lies in the thick of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands, about 60 miles west of Del Rio. Langtry sprang up in 1882 as a railroad camp during the construction of the Southern Pacific line. Among the profiteers following the railroad was Roy Bean, a tent-saloon operator who became Langtry’s justice of the peace.

Signs of the Past

July 17, 2015 | By Eric W. Pohl

Right around dusk, it happens all across Texas. A couple of flickers. A buzz. And then the illumination of vibrant colors clicks on, emanating a hum as electrified gases dance within their glass conduits.

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