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We Got Mooned in Teague, Texas!

After a four plus hour drive to Livingston, Texas on Friday April 5 we arrived at the Escapees Rainbow's End RV Park for the week. We have an action packed agenda for our visit back to our official Texas domicile. Our first official act was to get our annual Texas vehicle inspection out of the way. It worked out that we were back in April when our registration come up for renewal. We stopped by Kyle's shop on the way to the RV Park, got the inspection done and paid the $14 charge ($7 each vehicle) and were on the road again in thirty minutes.

The big event that brought us to this part of the state was the upcoming total solar eclipse on Monday, April 8. Our plan was to drive to the path of totality in Teague, Texas, about two hours north, early on Monday and view this unique cosmic phenomenon. The weather was looking questionable with morning fog leading to cloudy skies and thunderstorms predicted for after 3 pm. There was a small window of partly cloudy sky from about 11 am to 2pm during the scheduled eclipse so we took the chance and headed northwest.

We arrived early for the eclipse so we drove over to the Teague Volunteer Fire Department to see if we could meet some of the staff and get a tour of their facilities. The Teague Volunteer Fire Department was organized in 1907. Teague VFD is a not-for-profit volunteer organization consisting of 30 members. The Fire Department provides fire and rescue services to the City of Teague and its surrounding community. TVFD Lt. Ron Stewart was kind enough to show us around and it was a pleasure meeting a couple other members of the department. Their VFD is a well equipped with two engines, a "Quint" ladder truck, a heavy rescue squad truck, a water tender, 3 brush trucks and a utility/command vehicle, They respond to about 400 calls a year including traffic collisions, wildland fires, structure fires not including medicals. Ron explained to us the majority of medical calls are handled by the local EMS ambulance company.

According to Lt. Stewart, the town's Chamber of Commerce was meeting out at Booker T. Washington Park on the east side of town for the "eclipse event". We arrived in time to set up our zero-gravity recliners, mingle with the locals and eat our picnic lunch. Fortunately, almost miraculously the clouds parted to afford us our view of the solar eclipse from beginning to end. John and Karen got "Totally" mooned in Teague, Texas on April 8 at 1:38 pm for two and a half minutes...WOW!

Teague, Texas is at the junction of U.S. Highway 84, State Highway 179, and Farm Roads 80 and 145, nine miles southwest of Fairfield in western Freestone County. The area was first settled around the time of the Civil War. During the latter half of the nineteenth century a small community known as Brewer, grew up at the site. When the Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway was built through the county in 1906, it located its machine and car shops at this site. The town of Brewer was renamed Teague by railroad magnate Benjamin Franklin Yoakum in honor of his mother Narcissus Teague and her parents James and Jane Fowler Teague, who were early pioneers in Freestone County. The town incorporated in 1906. The community served as a shipping center for area cotton farmers and grew rapidly. By 1914 it had Baptist, Catholic, Disciples of Christ, Methodist, Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal, and Presbyterian churches, as well as public schools, waterworks, an electric light plant, an ice plant, three banks, two cotton gins, a cottonseed oil mill, a cotton compress, the Teague Daily News, two weekly newspapers, and a population of 3,300. Teague continued to prosper during the 1920s.

The onset of the Great Depression and plummeting cotton prices however began a slow decline that continued until the 1980s. The number of businesses dropped from 140 in 1931 to 100 in 1936. After World War II many other stores and businesses closed, and by the early 1980s only forty-six rated businesses remained. The town also witnessed a decline in population during the same period; it reached a low of some 2,800 in 1975. After the mid-1980s, however, the population grew steadily, and in 1990 Teague had 3,268 residents. The population was 4,557 in 2000. The area has large coal, lignite, sand, and clay deposits. In recent years natural gas production has become an important industry.

The exhibits in the Teague Museum include a 1925 Baldwin locomotive donated by W. T. Carter and Brother of Camden, a railroad motor car, a baggage wagon, photographs, timetables, and other memorabilia. Other artifacts of local history are also preserved in the museum, including items pertaining to churches, schools, doctors and hospitals, merchants and business firms, clubs and organizations (including a Boy Scout room), civic leaders, and city officials. The Teague Volunteer Fire Department, which dates back to 1907, developed its own exhibit, which includes the department's first motorized pumper engine, a 1920s Seagraves with dual ignition. The local newspaper, the Teague Chronicle, published since 1906, has its own display, which features the Cottrell printing press used by the paper from 1906 to 1976, in addition to a copy of its first issue, dated July 27, 1906, which contains a report on the arrival of Teague's first passenger train. A Veterans' Room displays exhibits of all wars; special memorial cases honor those killed in action.

After the eclipse we traveled over to the Teague Train Depot and Museum to take a tour. Normally closed during the week, the chamber president called a volunteer and arranged a personal tour for us! How nice was that!

The Burlington-Rock Island Railroad Museum, in Teague, was officially opened on October 4, 1970, and is housed in the original Trinity and Brazos Valley Railway depot and office building. The depot was built in 1906–07 and designed by C. H. Page, Jr., an Austin architect, whose father had worked as a stone mason on the state Capitol. The two-story building combines the round arches and arcades of Romanesque styling with an asymmetrical Italianate tower. Its bichrome façade features red-brick trim on a buff-colored, pressed-brick background. The hipped roof is covered in red tile. When built, the depot was considered one of the most handsome stations in Texas.

The railway itself, the "Boll Weevil," belonged to the Burlington-Rock Island system for most of its existence and continues freight service to Teague. After a new railroad office was constructed in the 1960s, local historians, led by Llewellyn Notley, retired Teague school superintendent, and P. F. Thomas, retired railroad superintendent, acquired the building for the city of Teague from the Fort Worth and Denver Railway and the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroads for one dollar. The Burlington-Rock Island Railroad Museum Association of Teague was organized and incorporated by the Texas secretary of state in 1969. The museum opened on October 4, 1970, with United States congressman Olin E. Teague delivering the dedicatory address. Two state historical markers were unveiled at the program.

After our day in the city of Teague, we drove the backroads to Livingston in a massive thunderstorm. At one point the downpour got so bad we needed to pull over into a parking lot, but we got home safely and hunkered down for some heavy weather in the forecast for the next two days. All in all, it was a great day; a once in a lifetime experience to see the total eclipse of the sun.


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1 Comment

Apr 13

Glad you got to see the eclipse and were able to hunker down during the storm! Crazy weather!

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