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Legends Letter

March, 2011


Fort Alexander after the Blizzard of 11We may have lost an hour this weekend, but we're that much closer to being done with Winter!  Kathy and I aren't known for being fond of lots of snow, so we made plans this year to head south for a month in hopes of avoiding it. Kathy wanted to leave in early January, but I insisted we wait until closer to February, convincing her it would likely be the worst month of the season.


Mother Nature started to worry me there for a while, as January turned out pretty darn snowy and cold here in Warsaw, Missouri. By the time we left for Texas on January 28th we had already burned through half our wood stock and I had shoveled the sidewalks no less than three times. I began to think I would be eating my words, but only a few days after our departure, Warsaw received the worse blizzard in decades, dumping an initial 17 inches of snow, followed by additional storms bringing it up to around 26 inches. So we were all smiles as we reached our temporary home in Del Rio Texas, despite the fact that they too were seeing unusual freezing temps for several days in a row.


Enough about that stuff though, we had an incredible time in West Texas. Along the way there, we stopped to see our good Route 66 friend Ken "The Landrunner" Turmel in Oklahoma City and picked up some of his incredible Postmark Art. This unique art work features postmarks from all along the Mother Road, and you will soon find it in the Rocky Mountain Store. We also took time to stop in Austin, Texas to get a personal tour of the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. Big thanks to Legends reader Linda Pybus Glover for the wonderful tour and assistance in writing our story.


There is so much to show and tell about the incredible history and beauty we found on our trip, the best way is to let you see for yourself. Check out our Facebook Page Photo Albums. Don't worry, you do not have to have a Facebook account to see them, simply click on the following links and take a trip in pictures with us.

I think my two personal favorites were Langtry and San Antonio. Langtry mainly for the raw beauty of the Rio Grande and the quirky history of its founder, Judge Roy Bean. As far as San Antonio, although we tend not to focus that much on the larger cities, this town is a must for history lovers. The Mission Trail provided a great look at the early Spanish missions, some of which are still in use today.

I also got a kick out of Kathy and how her thrifty ways landed us in a hotel only three blocks from the River Walk and the Alamo. Amazing how such a short distance can make a big difference in the quality of your stay. Our room featured a busted out window covered in insulation, one bed that almost fell to the floor and the other I could have broke a rock on, along with some unique views of downtown San Antonio when walking to the Alamo. We probably would have taken one of the buses had we known we would be coming back to the hotel so late from the River Walk. If your planning to stay in the Downtown area, I recommend spending the extra dollars for a room closer to the action. We had a blast, and despite the accommodations, it was a wonderful stay.


After our journey to south and west Texas, we will be working from home for a while. However, we've been traveling and collecting photographs for many years before we were Facebooking. So, while we're not on the road, we will be bringing you a number of "virtual tours" of our past travels. Kathy put together a "taste" of what's to come in our Facebook album A Taste of the American West. We will include links to these virtual tours here in the newsletter as well.


Dave Alexander

Driving Miss Kathy - Walker of Dog

Legends Of America








In this Edition: 


New Additions & Feature Stories


Featured Travel Destination - Terlingua - Texas' Favorite Ghost Town


Route 66 - Oatman, A Living Ghost Town


Notes From Legends' General Store


Exclusive Newsletter Special - Discount Coupon


Featured Product: Nostalgic Tin Signs




More to See:


Facebook Fan Page - Daily posts and photos.


Flicker Photo Page - A growing gallery of our travel photos.


Legends of America Hits the Highway - Our blog when we travel.




Kathy Weiser Alexander at the Pecos River Bridge
Kathy Weiser Alexander ponders what adventure lies beyond the Pecos River Bridge near Langtry, Texas.


Dave Alexander at the Pecos River Bridge
Dave Alexander ponders what the hell Kathy's getting him into next.




New Additions and Feature Stories


Funeral Creek Copper Mine, CaliforniaOne thing about it being real cold outside, Kathy gets lots of writing done. We haven't done a newsletter since early December, so there is a LOT of new additions to be aware of. Continuing on with Kathy's obsession of the places and history of Death Valley, California, which is very likely to be a future winter's destination, you'll find lots of new material on this subject. Check out Laws, California - An Outdoor Museum. When the Southern Pacific Railroad closed its line to Laws, the town was destined to be a true ghost town. Instead; however, the City of Bishop and Inyo County established a railroad museum at the site and later moved various buildings to Laws. It now serves as a museum that typifies a typical turn of the century town. You'll also find interesting history on the Furnace Creek Ranch and Furnace Creek Inn, both of which were once the properties of the Pacific Coast Borax Company. Today, they continue to stand as part of the Furnace Creek Resort.


You'll find lots of interesting Characters of Early Death Valley who were the first to develop many of the mines and towns. Meet William Tell Coleman  who made a fortune operating the Harmony Borax Works and the first to operate the the famous 20-Mule-Teams in Death Valley. He would later lose his entire fortune, and his properties fell to Francis "Borax" Marion Smith - The Borax King of Death Valley. Smith owned the Pacific Coast Borax Company and aggressively promoted the 20-Mule-Team Borax brand and trademark. And, of course, you will find dozens of ghost towns caused by the rise and fall of the mining industry. We can't wait to visit some of these places such as Skidoo, Harrisburg, Arrastre Spring, Cartago, Claire Camp, Dublin Gulch, and lots more.


TrappersFinally, giving Death Valley a rest, Kathy moved on to Montana Forts and fur traders. We've got a large expansion to our Montana Fort summaries, including numerous trading posts. Includes places such as Cantonment Jordan, Fort Chardon, Fort Dauphin, Fort Janeaux, Fort Pease, Fort Van Buren, Reed's Fort, and dozens more. Plus, full articles on Fort Benton, the Birthplace of Montana Fort Yellowstone. This led to Trading Posts of the Fur Trade, an article which describes the hundreds of trading posts of the west. In these old places, we uncovered lots of new Explorers, Trappers, & Traders, including two shady characters. See these boys: The Treachery of Mike Fink and Alexander Harvey - Desperado of the Fur Trade.


Eleanor Dumont, Madame MustacheAnother interesting person we've added is the infamous Eleanore Dumont, better known as Madame Mustache. Shewas one of the first known professional blackjack players in American history and, for over three decades, made her name famous across the mining camps of the American West.


And, on to Texas. Check out the Pecos Heritage Trail. This 1,356 heritage trail includes sand dunes, underground caverns, spring-fed pools, seven state parks, dozens of towns, and hundreds of historical, cultural, natural, and recreational destinations. You'll also see a new article on the San Antonio-El Paso Road. Also known as the Lower Emigrant Road or Military Road, was an economically important trade route between the Texas cities of San Antonio and El Paso between 1849 and 1882.


And it wouldn't be frontier Texas without a few shady characters. Meet A.J. Royal - One Bad Pecos County Sheriff and Barney Riggs - Infamous West Texas Gunfighter


That just brings us up to February, when we added stories on the many places in Texas we visited on our trip.  Including Salado, Texas - Frontier College Town - Long before the village of Salado was ever formed, the area had long been known to Native Americans for Salado Creek and the multiple springs in the area. D'Hanis, Texas - French Colony of the Republic - A small unincorporated community in central Medina County, Texas, this tiny burg is rich in history.


Fort Clark, TexasFort Clark, Texas  - Unlike many other forts prominent in the Indian Wars, this fort in south-central Texas remained an active post through World War II.


Del Rio, Texas - Rio Grande River City - Legends' temporary home during February, has a  history that goes back thousands of years before, when the area was first settled by prehistoric Indians.


And our favorite Texas Ghost Town Terlingua - Located between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park in southwest Texas, Terlingua is Texas’ most visited ghost town. The name “Terlingua” actually applies to a mining district, and there were three different settlements located here in southwestern Brewster County.


The Alamo at nightOf course you will also find new material on San Antonio Missions National Historic Park - Beginning in the 16th century, missionaries, accompanied by a few soldiers, moved north out of the Valley of Mexico, founding missions and presidios. Including it's most famous Mission San Antonio de Valero - The Alamo - Originally known as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, the Alamo, began as a Catholic mission and compound in 1718, one of many Catholic missions organized as part of the official Spanish plan to Christianize Native Americans and colonize northern New Spain.



There's plenty new additions to come, so be sure to watch our What's New page for more.


Until next month ...



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Featured Travel Destination


Terlingua Texas CemeteryTerlingua - Best Ghost Town in the Lone Star State Located between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park in southwest Texas, Terlingua is Texas' most visited ghost town. The name "Terlingua" actually applies to a mining district, and there were three different settlements located here in southwestern Brewster County. The name derives from two Spanish words, tres and lenguas, meaning "three tongues," called such for one of two reasons. Still debated today, some say "three tongues" refer to the three languages spoken in the area long ago - English, Spanish, and Native American. The second reason refers to the three forks of Terlingua Creek.


The first settlement in the area was a Mexican village located on Terlingua Creek three miles above its confluence with the Rio Grande River. In the mid-1880's, cinnabar, from which the metal mercury is extracted, was discovered, which would slowly change the region from a single sleepy village into a mining district. 


The local Indians had long known about the cinnabar, which they prized for its brilliant red color for body pigment. Later, other Mexican and American prospectors also found it, but the remoteness of the area, lack of water and hostile Indians deterred any mining.


However, with the Indian threat past, several locals began small mining operations by the late 1880's and began to produce mercury - usually called quick-silver at the time. The earliest commercial production was primitive, easily taking out the surface outcroppings of ore and utilizing burro-drawn carts to haul the ore to collecting points where it was hand sorted. It was then placed in simple furnaces and heated until the mercury was condensed into its liquid form. These first surface ores were so rich that these primitive methods were enough to produce commercially salable amounts.


In 1884, a local man by the name of Juan Acosta found more cinnabar in the area and worked with an investor named Klein to develop his claim. However, they sold out to a group of California men, who would later start one of the first major mining operations, calling their claim "California Hill".


Still, there would be no major mining operations until later as the land had not been properly surveyed. After that occurred in the summer of 1898, the Marfa and Mariposa Mining Company erected the first large furnace in the district.


By the turn of the century, word was out that the region was rich in mercury and by the spring of 1900 about 1,000 flasks of the liquid metal had been extracted by four major producers - Marfa and Mariposa, California Hill, Lindheim & Dewees, and the Excelsior Company.


By that time, a new town had sprung up around the Marfa and Mariposa Mine. It too, became known as Terlingua and the first village was then referred to as Terlingua Abaja, or lower Terlingua. It gained a post office in 1899.


More ...


Featured Product: Route 66 Books and Maps - Prepare for the summer trip down the Mother Road, or just take a tour through Photos with our wide selection of Books and All 8 State Maps of Route 66!





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That you can see daily stories, from the Old West to Route 66, on our Legends Facebook Page?  With our Good Guy and Bad Guy of the week spotlights, travel destinations and Quirky Saturday , it's a daily dose of Legends sure to please!  



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Route 66


So, it appears I'm putting together this Newsletter while I'm hungry, because I just couldn't resist featuring one of the delicious recipes from our Flavors of the Mother Road


It's Not Your Mother's Meatloaf from the Bagdad Cafe

The Bagdad Cafe is in Newberry Spring, California.

Seasoning Mix:

1 whole bay leaf
Pinch cayenne pepper
3/4 t. black pepper
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. nutmeg



3 T. butter
3/4 C. chopped onions
1/2 C. chopped celery

1/2 C. chopped green bell pepper
1/4 C. chopped scallions
2 to 5 cloves of garlic minced (depending on preference)


Hot Sauce to Taste:

1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 C. milk
1/4 C. ketchup
11/4 lbs. ground beef
3/4 lb. ground pork or sausage
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 C. very fine dry bread crumbs, with Italian seasoning

Combine seasoning mix and set aside. Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, bell peppers, scallions, garlic, hot sauce, Worcestershire and seasoning mix. Saute 5 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mixture will begin sticking to bottom of pan, scrape bottom as you stir. Add milk and ketchup. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature (remove bay leaves).


In a bowl, place the ground beef, pork, eggs, cooked vegetable mixture and bread crumbs. Thoroughly mix by hand. Shape into a loaf and place in the middle of a 9- by 13-inch baking pan.


Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then raise heat to 400 degrees and continue cooking until done (about 30 minutes longer).


And there are plenty more Route 66 Recipes, from Cafe Peach Cobler to Roy's Route 66 Double Cheeseburger.  Find them all on our Flavors of the Mother Road pages HERE








What our readers are saying about Legends of America:


Today was my first visit. I see that I will be spending a lot of time here. Larry Smith Salem, Illinois


Virginia City started my love for Ghost Towns. My first visit there I was only 6. I have been in love with exploring Ghost Towns and Cemetery's ever since! Your website has provided some valuable reading.  Thank You! Connie, Las Vegas, Nevada

Thanks for the tips on hunting mines. Recently bought two metal detectors and am anxious to explore. Been rock hounding here in Nipomo for a few years now. William, Nipomo, California


A wonderful in site to our past ancestors and the way they lived there lives in very hard and tough times, where the answer to many questions was harsh and at times lethal. To the wonderful people who put there time, effort and patience into the research of these hard men and women....Well done. You do your country proud. Rex, Mildura, Victoria, Australia


I enjoyed looking at this website so much it made me lose track of time. I signed up for the newsletter. I plan on traveling out west this spring and will use this site for a great reference to plan my trip! Great job, thank you!!! Al, Holt, Florida


There is hardly a day that goes by without me looking up some interesting fact, or person, on your website. Many times I will just get on the site and browse. It is a great asset to the wonderful times past. Keep up the good work and thanks a bunch, Jack, Kentucky

I was looking for Indian costumes, came across this site and that was it, three hours later I am still reading . Brilliant. Kornelia, Cheshire England


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Notes From Dave and Legends' General Store

We're doing our best to find and offer more products you like, which is why we've added the Legends Art Store. Here you can hang up a piece of American History for as low as $6.99.  And we have a huge selection of Frames to choose from, or you can put it on Canvass.  You add the options you want and we'll take care of the rest.

In addition to the Art Store, we are working hard to add almost 1,000 True West and Frontier Times
Vintage Magazines to our already bulging collection.  We are also considering additional Route 66 clothing items, and may just pick up an even larger line of Postcards.  It's enough to keep both Kathy and I busy for the next year just getting things up on the website, so bear with us.

If you are one of our Facebook followers, we've added a special collection of items to LOA's Legends' General Store on Facebook.  Here you will find some special deals on signs, books, dvd's and more, as well as special discounts for being a fan of our Facebook Page.  Just go to our page and look for the store in our tabs on the left under our profile picture.  At this time shipping is limited to the US on our Facebook store, but we hope to expand that soon.

We continue to strive for top notch customer service and quality products. Here's what some of our customers are saying:

My order was handled quickly, and I received my order in a few days. I was very pleased with the product, and the kind thank you note enclosed with it. -- Yolanda, Illinois

 I love "Legends of America", and so enjoy reading it. It is so easy to buy from them, and I was very pleased with every aspect of my ordering. -- Patricia, Arizona

Excellent website, friendly service, item arrived quickly and in perfect condition. I will order from Legends of America again. -- Lynn, North Dakota

I love that there was a handwritten note in with my order. Just goes to show you how genuinely nice these people are. Definitely would buy from them again. -- Alto, Illinois

Quick and competitively priced. -- Paul, Pennsylvania


Legends' General Store Guarantee:  Your satisfaction is always guaranteed at the Legends' General Store!  If you're not happy with our  products, just send them back within 30 days and we will happily refund your money, no questions asked!

March in American History


March 1 1692 - Salem, Massachusetts authorities interrogated Sarah Good, Sarah Osborne, and an Indian slave, Tituba, to determine if they indeed practiced witchcraft.

March 2 1899 - President William McKinley signed legislation creating Mount Rainier National Park in Washington.

March 4 1861 - Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administered the presidential oath of office, inaugurating Abraham Lincoln as the sixteenth president.

March 5 1770 - A Boston crowd skirmished with British troops quartered in the city in what was later known as the Boston Massacre.

March 6 1836 - Mexican General Antonio López de Santa Anna recaptured the Alamo, a former mission in the Mexican town of San Antonio.

March 7 1850 - Senator Daniel Webster delivered his famous Seventh of March speech attempting to narrow the widening gap between North and South.

March 10 1876 - Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone.


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Legends of America


A Travel Guide for the

Nostalgic & Historic Minded


28926 Cedar Hill Loop

Warsaw, MO 65355


Kathy Weiser





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