I have been loaned a SPOT (tracking device) good for “help” “911” and also for anyone wanting to see and know the roads we have been on or are on. The unit is turned off at night and should be back on every morning while traveling. Click on this link for the tracking page.
The night is young, for the first time I realized the lengthening of the day when arriving back from our little 300 mile ride. These are the days I live for, cold mornings when it takes about half an hour just to suit up, warmer noons when the layers slowly come off, an average amount of miles with a destination, the wind blowing only to enhance the thoughts while the blue ribbon beneath me passes by as a fast forward movie. Mother Nature or remnants of an old town, my senses and vision’s extension were happy today with many photos to share, many photos maybe some day to look back at when in that rocking chair in motion, some years future at “The Oasis”.
This above is what keeps me here throughout these cold months of winter. As much as I look forward to truly being back on the road full time, versus shorter trips as today, I know that when that time comes and the days pass away from here, I will miss everything this space represents, including “The Oasis”. I will have to think hard about it then knowing the summer temperatures here, to willingly be forced to stay away. It is mystifying, it is still a mystery to me every time these sights appear around the curves leading here.
I have been planning for a while now to visit the Ghost Town of Shafter as curiosity always drives me to those desolate areas where once thriving a slice of society lived within. There are still a dozen families on site, Marfa and Presidio being near by. The town goes back to 1880 when John W. Spender discovered silver ore. Spencer showed a sample to a Colonel William R. Shafter, at the time a commander of Fort Davis who had it assayed. As Shafter shared the information with two other fellow officers, they managed to convinced the State to allow them to buy huge tracts of school land around the site in 1880. The three of them turned around and made Spender a partner, but although they now owned the land, they lacked the capital to mine the silver!
In 1882, they leased some of their holdings to a California Mining group from which a new company was formed “The Presidio Mining Company”. Machinery was then installed and the town of Shafter was born in 1884. The post office was granted in 1885. One partner sued when the company started mining on land deeded under his wife’s name. The case went to the Texas Supreme Court who ruled in favor of the mine over the disgruntled partner in 1887. Operations increased and Shafter became a full-fledged “company town” with the miners totally dependent on the company. Shafter only had 110 people around 1900. The mine closed and reopened several times throughout the 20s and 30s.
By 1943 Shafter’s population had grown to 1,500 with the economy buoyed by nearby Cavalry Fort D. A. Russell and Marfa Army Air Field. When the posts were closed at the end of WWII, the population shrank to only 20. There is also the fact that the town was called “Bews” when Shafter was a siding for the Nevada Northern Railway which was established in 1906. Lots were sold in the town. About 40 people lived here and a school opened in 1909 that did not close until 1932. By 1959 the office was closed and the town died, renamed previously Shafter.
We arrived in warm weather, jacket and all came off as I knew we would be there for a while, moving only a few feet at the time. It always happens in Ghost Towns, standing still in the middle of the unpaved road which was once Main Street, quiet with then not a soul around, I could however hear the past voices of the locals and sounds of carriages coming and going throughout an era we ourselves will never experience. Where they good times? where they bad times? They were just another time, maybe with more of a human facet, more of a personal touch compared to today’s experiences as “words” where of an importance said to each other face instead of words send out through the waves of space as we do today. Not better, not worse, just a slice of the reality for the time as today also has its advantages being able to stay in touch as never done before.
For some reason our first stop at the end of town after crossing a shallow creek was the old cemetery. The end of a Journey for so many that laid in front of us. Names, dates, crosses and much thoughts. How strange when one truly thinks about it all. Birth, growing pains, daily lessons which never know the time of the day or the year, everyone one way or another with such a full Life, joys and sadness all combined as finally the body will rest once done their time on Earth. The souls where of many as I walked around within my own at times asking questions, sometimes feeling the answers throughout the quiet and peaceful space.
It was then next the Memorial Historical Site which seems to be always open. I could tell it was being worked on as besides all the photos of past occupants of the town on the walls, many were still laying on the floor waiting to be put up. A guest book I signed surprised me to see so many visitors have been from as far as Alaska, the East Coast, all over the country really, and yet we were alone for that day. So many stories up on the walls tastefully adorned, so many that suddenly while reading them one can become part of it so easily and feel even more profoundly the richness of the past years.
Not a bad ride! Not a bad place to visit, ponder a bit, a taste unlike others… who said Texas was ever boring and flat! I have two weeks before my next Dr’s appointment, another check up to make sure of all this medicine working as I think they are, feeling a bit better every day. Texas Hills call me, a place called Coopers for BBQ I was told is one of the best, that itself sounds like a good excuse for some getting away. So I am packing again today, my mystery tire and a couple extra tubes have arrived, oil is changed and I can only hope that the weather will be kind to us as we will be camping most of the way. It is an area we never have been through, maybe not the best time of the year, but it is time to experience new roads, maybe witness new sunsets as the one last night when returning to “The Oasis” after stopping, surprised to see… some camels!!!
Two years of Photography is finally in order on SmugMug… In “Your Favorites”, in “States”, some labeled “first year” and second year”, now also “Texas the third year”. Feel free to browse, you can even use the slide show mode and have fun.
Merchandise is also available through SmugMug. If you like to order a print all sizes are available as I store the originals myself considering the huge bandwidth needed to upload on the Gallery.
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Ara & Spirit