Collections from Texas National Parks

National Park Service, Centennial One Object Exhibit

In celebration of the National Park Service Centennial in 2016, this exhibit showcases one object from every national park museum collection in Texas. We invite you to explore museum collections from Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, Amistad National Recreation Area, Big Bend National Park, Big Thicket National Preserve, Chamizal National Memorial, Fort  Davis National Historic Site, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site, Padre Island National Seashore, and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

This object is a large complete biface with a symmetrical leaf shape. It has slightly convex lateral edges, a pointed distal end, and a rounded base. There is flat marginal retouch on both faces along both lateral edges. This basic form provided for a variety of uses, including both light scraping and cutting, as well as the ability to switch hands when the blade dulled or when both functions were needed simultaneously. Variations of this form include a more diamond-shaped outline caused by resharpening individual segments of the blade edges at different times. Also characteristic is beveling the blade edge segments, often on alternate faces. The material from which it made is made has it source in the Canadian River Valley of the Texas Panhandle. It is hard, distinctly colored, and was utilized by prehistoric peoples for 13,000 years.

Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, ALFL 325/24748

Modern fishing tackle may look different from that of the hunter-gatherer peoples who once lived in the Lower Pecos Canyon lands of southwest Texas, but these deep canyons and clear waters have been popular with anglers for millennia. This bundle of naturally curved fishhook cactus spines is probably part of an ancient fishing lure. Tufts of fine fibers may have been tied to it, and the individual hooks angled outward in different directions, as with a treble hook. In other examples the hooks are oriented in the same direction to reinforce each other. In a recent experiment, archeologists caught a fish using a replica fishhook cactus spine lure.

Amistad National Recreation Area, AMIS 21646

This regionally specific projectile point is primarily encountered in the lower Pecos region of Texas. Found near a rock shelter during a park trail survey in 1994, it is composed of a distinctive lithic material from prehistoric quarries on Burro Mesa, located about 30 miles away from the site where the artifact was found. The Burro Mesa quarries are part of a National Register Archeological District within the park, and the rock was used for chipped stone artifacts throughout prehistory, from Paleo-Indian through Late Prehistoric time periods.

Big Bend National Park, BIBE 46566

As European colonization of the Big Thicket area in southeast Texas began, timber harvest operations began to spring up. Using methods such as two-wheeled oxcarts, floating log booms down the waterways, and eventually loading harvested logs on railroad cars, many new sawmills supplied with timber as early as the 1830s. Longleaf pine, mixed hardwoods, and eventually the cypress Swamps were all heavily logged and impacted in the ensuing 100 years. With a long growing season and ample precipitation, the forests regrew only to be cut a second and third time.

This portion of a large sawmill blade added to the Big Thicket National Preserve's museum collections represents just one of the tools used to tame the Big Thicket. This sawmill blade collected from the Voth Sawmill Site. Voth Mill was a logging and milling plant established in 1902. It was sold to the Kirby Lumber Company in 1922. A hardwood mill was added in 1924, and then dismantled in 1930. Pine continued to be harvested until the mill was closed in 1952.

Big Thicket National Preserve, BITH 1

“The medal-like our meeting symbolizes more that the settlement of a boundary dispute. It commemorates the meeting of two people, in freedom and in understanding, to celebrate an act of reason and justice...”� Lyndon B. Johnson

This medallion commemorates the formal transfer of lands between the United States and the United Mexico States on October 28, 1967. The medal features an international boundary marker in the center. It was awarded to Joseph Friedkin, the former commissioner of the International Boundary and Water Commission, in recognition of his work on the Chamizal Settlement.

Chamizal National Memorial, CHAM 2758

This dress helmet was owned and worn by Captain Mason M. Maxon. Maxon served with the 10th US Cavalry Regiment at Fort Davis from 1882-1885. Attached to the helmet are the ornate brass eagle, gold braid cord, and buffalo hair plume typically worn by an officer in dress uniform. All of the enlisted men in the 10th US Cavalry Regiment were of African American descent and later became known as the Buffalo Soldiers. While stationed at Fort Davis, the primary role of the troops was to safeguard the west Texas frontier against Comanche and Apache. They protected travelers, emigrants, freighters, and mail carriers along the San Antonio-El Paso Road.

The Buffalo Soldiers and their officers have become synonymous with the Indian Wars and westward expansion. Without their service, cities like El Paso, Texas and Tucson, Arizona would not be the same today. With the eagle seal of the United States proudly displayed, this item embodies the dedication the 10th US Cavalry had to our nation.

Fort Davis National Historic Site, FODA 54

The point was collected during archeological monitoring during construction of a utility line. The point style is from the Late Archaic (1200 B.C.E to 200/900 A.D.) Guadalupe Mountains National Park lies in the Trans-Pecos region of west Texas. During the Late Archaic, increased settlement and use of the area by people occurred in the west portion of the park. Artifacts like this projectile point can tell scientist when people live here, what they hunted, where they hunted, and where they gathered the raw materials, the stone, to make their tools. This point can tell a story about the past and the artist who fashioned it.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park, GUMO 40716

President Lyndon Johnson drove this convertible Lincoln Continental on his ranch and while visiting neighbors in the Texas Hill Country. The automobile was fitted year round with mud and snow tires on the rear drive axle in order to provide better performance on dirt roads and open fields.

Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Site, LYJO 4428

Palo Alto Battlefield and Resaca de la Palma Battlefield are two of a handful of American battlefields where solid copper cannonballs were used. Copper was a surplus material coming out of the Mexican silver mines during the 1800s. Mexico found many uses for the copper, including making munitions to equip their army. Archeological investigations at Palo Alto have revealed that the Mexican Army used copper for both cannonballs and canister shot, in addition to the more conventional iron cannonballs and shot.

Palo Alto Battlefield National Historical Park, PAAL 961

The Real, or Royal, was a form of currency used by the Kingdom of Spain from the 1300s through the 1800s. This coin is associated with the shipwrecks of the Santa Maria de Yciar, the Esipritu Santo and the San Esteban. A storm drove these three ships aground off the coast of Texas in April,1554 while traveling from Mexico to Cuba. The location of these shipwrecks is now part of the Mansfield Cut Underwater Archeological District.

Padre Island National Seashore, PAIS 1745

These glass jeweled crosses and rings were found in the midden for Rancho de las Cabras, the ranch site for Mission Espada. The ranch was located approximately 25 miles south of Mission Espada on the San Antonio River. Young neophyte Mission Indians would have lived at the site while herding goats, sheep, cattle, and horses for the mission. These items are unusual because neophyte ranch hands would not normally have been associated with decorative, high status items like these. Perhaps these objects suggest other inhabitants and different uses for Rancho de las Cabras.

San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, SAAN 35915, 35916, 35947, and 35946

Credits: Story

Park museum staff from: Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, Amistad National Recreation Area, Big Bend National Park, Big Thicket National Preserve, Chamizal National Memorial, Fort Davis National Historic Site, Guadalupe Mountains National Park, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Palo Alto Battlefield National Historic Site, Padre Island National Seashore, and San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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