November 10, 2005

At the Archives of The Big Bend, Sull Ross University, Alpine, TX

Spent a good chunk of the day at the Archives of the Big Bend at Sul Ross University in Alpine. I wasn't able to dig up much new, but I did find a few tidbits (all courtesy of the Archives of the Big Bend).

From The Marathon Eagle (which looks like it was owned by the Alpine Avalanch because the tone of the writing is the same voice as the Avalanch).
Wednesday, July 20, 1910.
No. 29. Vol 2.
"Boquillas Bouqets" (Which is a list of one to two line items listing all the things happening).

"Carlas Masee of San Antonio here on Business connected with the mine."

OK, it didn't hit me when I was reading it when I was sitting in the archives; it only now hits me now, late in the evening in my hotel room. "Carlas Masee". Duh. It's a misspelling of "Carlos Moser". This confirms the 1910 Census that says he was in Marathon. But, if he was only visiting, then he and Aimee may have still lived in San Antonio. Maybe there are San Antonio land records, if they owned their house in San Antonio...

Why can't they get his name right? It's like the Avalanch/Eagle are reluctant to write anything about the mines and Moser, but, seeing as it's such a big operation, totally ignoring it would be too tough to do. Couldn't they simply ask him how he spelled his name? Marathon's not a big town. You could just walk up to him and ask him. Isn't that what reporters do?

Then, here's the next paragraph.

"Misses Smith and Simpson of Surra Majada Mexico are here inspecting the Del Carmen Mine with a view of reopening it, we have not learned their decision."

"Surra" must be "Sierra". Doesn't seem like this reporter can spell...

"Reopening it"?!?!? Hmmm.... OK, we know, "they [the investors] gave the deal to Moser" in the Southern Hotel sometime around 1908/1909 because it's in Farmer Jennings Memoirs. We also know the US Zinc Tariff came into effects sometime around 1909/1910 and it's effect was devestating for the Mexican Zznc industry because the US bought all of Mexico's zinc. And, we know from Moser's 1911 article was that he was there for the zinc. The new piece of information is that Aimee's son told me when Aimee was Marathon, Moser traveled to NYC to secure a loan.

So, it's conceivable that Moser wasn't shipping ore. But if that's true, it didn't last for long, as the following bears out:

Alpine Avalanch
October 26, 1911
Page 1, Col 7
“Another car load of 3 inch ore from the Del Carmen mines was shipped from here this week.”

This appeared on page 1. This is the first time anything about the mines appeard on page 1 in the Avalanch, except for the previous citation on from the Marathon Eagle. Why did these two citations appear on page 1? Why was it such a big deal when in the past it wasn't?

Something's going on and I'm not quite sure what that is.

According to the Alpine Avalanch, Moser was shipping ore as early as March, 1910. You can view the citations here. In fact, Customs Officer Rutledge moved to the Ore Terminal in March, meaning everyone was preparing for this thing to work.

What may have been going on is this: the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Bill of 1909 may have gone into affect sometime after March, 1910 and that's what caused the seeming shutdown of the operation after March 1910. The bill became law in August, 1909. Maybe the bill didn't go into effect right away, or maybe it wasn't practically enforced until Rutledge moved to the Ore Terminal....I'm simply not sure what's going on here.

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November 09, 2005

Research At Big Bend National Park Headquarters

I spent the afternoon at the Big Bend National Park office. Archeologist Tom Alex very kindly spent time with me going over what the park had. I don't think he was that sure of me initially, but once we got to talking, the conversation just kept on going.

But first, I need to back up. Last week, I was double checking some facts on Leschen & Sons, the company that made the tramway. In a Google search, I found a citation from a book called For All Seasons: A Big Bend Journal by a Roland Wauer. It was a paragraph on the tramway and ore terminal and Wauer pretty much got the basic facts straight! He was the first author I found who did! What's more, he mentioned "Don Carlos Moser" by name as the man on the blueprints of the tramway.

Blueprints! No one's ever mentioned blue prints before!

Man, if I had come across his book earlier, I would have saved so much time...but then again, maybe I wouldn't have found Farmer Jenning's daughter...

Anyway, I checked out the book from the library and the citation that's online is the complete citation. Wauer's a former NPS naturalist and his book was more about botany and animals than artifacts. But, he said in his writing that he always fascinated with the tramway ruins, so he wrote about it.

As I was setting up my appointment with Tom Alex, I think I had mentioned Roland Wauer. He knew him and referred to him as "Ro". "We don't have any blueprints here," he said. "If you talk to Ro, ask him where they are."

So I did. I tracked him down and got him on the phone, a day or two before I drove out to big bend. When I asked him where he saw the blueprints, he said, "I have them." He also had a 53 page document on the tramway prepared for him by a guy that worked at the customs office in El Paso, dated 1949. I was floored.

Turns out, Wauer worked at the park in the '60's. He got interested in the tramway and did some research in the late '60's, with the hopes of some day writing a book, but he never did. "I'm more interested in butterflies, now," he told me. I had called him in the afternoon and he had just returned that morning from a butterfly collecting trip in Mexico.

I told Mr. Wauer I'd send him an inventory of what I had found at the park office so that we all knew what was where.

Now, back to Tom Alex. He takes me back to the records room and opens up a drawer, lifts up a file and says,"We don't have it is...oh, it's been sent for scanning." Meaning, it wasn't there. My heart sank. I drove all the way from Austin, took time off from work, left my family, and now it was missing. "No, that's not it." My hopes brighten. "Here's what we have."

He lifts out a thin, three hole punched, bound report. It's 53 pages of pictures and captions, one picture per page. Looking at the cover, I see it's the original of the document that Roland Wauer has! It was pictures of the mines, with miners, the tramway on both sides, the intermediate water station on the Mexican side of the Rio Grande, a photo of the water tank being transported on the tramline, etc. Wonderfully neat stuff.

So I volunteer to scan it all in the HP scanner they have. It takes me a while, but now it's electronically catalogued in the National Park system.

Tom told me a story that Ross Maxwell told him. I'm not sure if the facts are true, but here it is. All the wood for the towers came from the Mediterranean, "Cedars of Lebanon". They were shipped in by the old port and Indianola, Texas. This was particularly strong wood, apparantly.

In all, a wonderful day. Spent the evening at Ms. Tracy's cafe in Terlingua. Had a great conversation with folks at dinner. Looking forward to the talk.

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January 20, 2005

The Ore Terminal and The Glenn Springs Raid

Seeing as histories of the Glenn Springs Raid talk about the mining men that were kidnapped in Boquillas, Coahuila after the raiders retreated back into Mexico, I figured I'd find the names of these men in the Alpine Avalanch. Once I had the names, I could try to track down their children and grandchildren in order to get their stories. Because the raid took place a year after Moser died, I figured this would lead to a new chapter in the story.

So, I spent lunch at the Center for American History at UT. The May 11, 1916 edition of the Avalanch was a great find. I'll post more later, but there were two articles: one was about the raid itself and the other was about the kidnapping and escape of the mining men, with their names! All found within 20 minutes.

The kidnapped men all worked for the Porto (sic) Rico de Boquillas Mines, Texas. They were:

Carl Halter, mine superintendent
R.R. Has brouck, assayer
Dr. Homer Powers of San Angelo
W.T. Butler
Nick Postrius
N.R. McKnight
George Scott
Austan Swayze

Great leads!

So, I asked the librarian if the Center for American History had any kind of biographical index. He said, "Sure, those card catalogs over there index names in Texas newspapers. They're organized by city." He pointed to these two, big card catalogs that I always ignored as I walked past them on my way to the microfilm. I figured they were the card catalog before everything was put online, probably in the mid-80's. Boy, was I wrong. If the people I'm researching are in these indices, it will save me a lot of time as they point me directly where I need to go, instead of trolling through newspapers hoping to find something.

So, I started looking for Moser in the San Antonio Express, San Antonio Free Press, San Antonio Light, and El Paso Herald. I struck out. But, I noticed that the index wasn't just names, it was places and things as well.

I found entries for Boquillas in the El Paso Herald section of the catalog and they were all about the Glenn Springs raid and subsequent events. Paydirt! Apparently, the librarians concentrated on the big news items of the day. I found nine cards devoted to the Glenn Springs raid, from May 9th to May 24th, 1916. And, the librarians copied the first paragraph of the stories onto the index cards. While I didn't have time to retrieve the articles, I did learn three important things from those paragraphs:

1) The ore terminal was attacked AFTER the Glenn Springs raid.
2) The name of mining company after Moser died was indeed the International Mining Company. (I wasn't able to substantiate that, having come across a few mentions of it in history books, but the footnotes that referenced the name all pointed to other sources that don't say where they got the information. I bet it's a good chance they got it from these newspaper accounts.)
3) F. C. Morehouse was the president and general manager of the International Mining Company.

So, wow! NONE of the histories talk about how the ore terminal was attacked. The Glenn Springs raid looms pretty large in all the histories, but they all seem to follow the story into Mexico with Major Langhorne. Apparently, the Ore Terminal was attacked when Langhorne was most likely in La Noria, immediately before he decided to cross over into Mexico.

More wow! I now know the name of the man who replaces Moser in the story. Right now, I see three chapters in the story of the ore terminal:
Chapter 1: Moser's Dream. Building the Terminal.
Chapter 2: Running the Terminal. Moser's Death.
Chapter 3: Morehouse's Story

Broad strokes, but the outline of the story is getting clearer. I'll post specifics to the website in the future (including articles), but I wanted to share the great news for now.

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January 14, 2005

Glenn Springs Raid Connection

Once again, details escape me until I read something twice (In this case, three times).

I've been reading a couple of books I checked out of the Austin Public Library, one being "Revolution on the Rio Grande: Mexican Raids and Army Pursuits 1916-1919," by Glenn Justice.

Glenn Springs is west of Boquillas, Texas on what's now known as the River Road. In May, 1916 it was attacked by Mexican Bandits. They took hostages on the US side in Boquillas and then hostages in Boquillas, Mexico. I had read about the raid in other books and they all talk about how the US Calvary went after the bandits three days after the raid.

So I re-read this quote, "Also accompanying the expedition was a group of American newsmen, including reporters, photographers, and even a motion picture crew." Pg. 11.

Now, they probably crossed into Mexico at Boquillas. So, there's a possibility that photographs of Boquillas from that time period and even a movie!

Then, I re-read the paragraph above. "Across the Rio Grande at the International Mining Company in Boquillas, Mexico, the bandits seized seven American employees including the mine's physician and superintendent, and robbed the company store." Pg. 11

Finally, a name of the Del Carmen company after Moser died in 1915, the International Mining Company! The footnote for that sentence cites two books, Ronnie Tyler's "The Big Bend" and Clarence C. Clenden's "Blood on the Border". Now, I know Tyler's book never mentions the name of the mining company, because I've read those passages and I have an article of his on the Glenn Springs raid from the mid '70's and neither of the mention the name. So, Clenden's book must.

Also, the photographer and film crew may have filmed the spot where the crimes took place and that might have been the mine and/or terminal on the Mexican side!

Also, the newsmen were probably from an El Paso, or a San Antonio newspaper, so they would file be filing their stories. And...there's a possibilit they would name the captors. Another clue to help me track down descedents!

Lot's of work, but some interesting leads. ALl from reading the same thing over and over. Wish I was quicker.

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January 06, 2005

Looking in Other Places

Still running into a dead-end looking for descendents of Carlos and Aimee Moser. So, I've been heading down two paths.

First, I'm trying to track down descendents of freighters from the areas, based upon this quote from

"In the Boquillas area, the Gonzalez brothers of Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico, and the Ben Gallego family of Alpine Texas dominated the industry."

There's a State Representative Pete Gallego from Alpine. Related?

Second, I've been researching the Glenn Springs Raid of 1916, a year after Moser's death. Mexican banditos (and maybe Villistas), attacked Glenn Springs, which is a few miles east of Boquillas. When they went back over the river, the histories talk about how they kidnapped the Doctor and Superintendent of the Puerto Rico mine.

The Americans where forced into their truck made to drive South. They pretended there were mechanical problems so they had to drive slowly. When most of the raiding party was a few miles ahead, kidnapped men stalled the engine and acted like it had died. They asked the remaining raiders to help push the truck and when they went to the back of the truck, the driver put it in reverse, knocking them down. The Americans grabbed banditos' guns and marched them back to the US, where they were handed over to the US Marshall.

If I can find the names of the people who worked in the mine, then I might be able to track down their descendents.

The Mosers remain ellusive...

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August 23, 2004

Moser's Obituary

Spent time at the Center for American History (CAH) at UT, where I do much of my newspaper research. I figured I should be able to find obituaries of some of the people involved with the mine and maybe those obituaries would have some tidbits of information that could help me in my research.

I was going to look for the obituary for Carlos Moser and J.W. Rutledge. Both died in El Paso county. The JW Rutledge I was looking for was 89 and could have been the John Rutledge in the 1910 census who was an 18 year old customs inspector in Boquillas (his dad was 31 years older, also a John, and also a customs inspector in Boquillas).

I knew when Moser died, thanks to Liz Hicks, Genealogy editor at the German-Texas Heritage Society. (To whom I am extremely grateful for her research help.) So I tried the Alpine Avalanche. No luck, or maybe I missed it. In the winter of 1915, the Avalanche was only published once a week, or maybe that's all that was microfilmed.

Seeing as Moser died in El Paso county, I tried looking in an El Paso paper, namely, the El Paso Herald. Oddly enough, the CAH doesn't have the 1915 editions on microfilm, they have the actual papers. I figured, I'd look on the day he died (not a smart idea) and each day through Sunday, figuring the Sunday edition would pick up any death's that were missed the week prior.

To my dismay, the Herald did not employ that great invention used by time strapped modern society...the Table of Contents. So, I had to slough through stories about Pancho Villa, Germany's aggression, local El Paso happenings, and ads for various snake oil treatments. After a half hour, I was frustrated, because I hadn't found it, but that didn't mean it didn't exist. In other words, it was very easy to get a false negative, while it's impossible to get a false positive (unless I incorrectly identify the subject of the obit).

As is often the case when I'm doing research, I have to go over the same material twice--or more--to really understand what it's telling me. So it was with the El Paso Herald. This is a constant theme in my research and is probably due to my ability to be distracted easily. In general, the material is not that hard to understand. I'll read something and get some stuff out of it. Then, when I hit a brick wall, I'll go back and re-read stuff and find there's more in there to milk.

Deciding that false negatives were too easy to come by, I decided to concentrate on the two days after the day Moser died and went back and scanned each page, column by column. With great relief and a lot of surprise, I found Moser's obituary.

From the El Paso Herald
Wednesday, March 3, 1915
Pg. 3
Center for American History

Owner of Boquillas Del Carmen Mine Dies Here.

"Carlos Moser, owner of the Boquillas del Carmen and other mines in the state of Coahuila, Mex., died Monday evening at a local hospital. The Mexican mine owner was 58 years old at the time of his death and had been operating in Mexico for the past 20 years.

"Mr. Moser was a native of Stuttgart, Germany, and has a brother, Wilhelm Moser, living in Germany. His wife, Mrs. Aimee Lyon Moser, was with him at the time of his death."

OK, it's not much. But it is something. There are a few interesting facts in these two short paragraphs.

1) Clearly, Moser was ill and his wife had enough time to get him to El Paso. From what did he die? My bet would be influenza.

2) They say he was from Coahuila, Mexico (clearly the Boquillas area). Yet, the 1910 census shows him in Marathon. I think he was most likely living near the mines and most likely was the mine engineer and got down to Boquillas as soon as the tramway was operating. Mining Engineer was his profession; I bet the mines are where he wanted to be.

3) Notice they talk of "mines". Plural. Could Moser have hauled most of the ore from this area? According to Gregory's 1908 master's degree thesis, we know there was more than one mine in Boquillas, with the Puerto Rico being the richest. We also know that ASARCO had closed their smelter there by 1907 as they consolidated all their smelting operations that year. Could Moser have been the only one mine owner in Boquillas at that time? He was a freelance mining engineer. Could this have been his first time as a mine owner? If so, could he have lived his dream for the last five years of his life?

4) Notice they call it the "del Carmen Mine". According to Gregory's thesis, there is a mine named "Boquillas del Carmen." It's 51.16 "pertenencias", which is an area measurement. That's the largest mine, in terms of area, in Gregory's list and therefore, probably Boquillas. (The Puerto Rico mine, the most productive mine in Boquillas, is 18 pertencencias.) Could this have been the "del Carmen mine?" If so, is this why the tramway ended five miles away from the entrance to the Puerto Rico mine? Is the entrance to the Boquillas del Carmen mine five miles away from the Puerto Rico mine?

5) We know know where's he from: Stuttgart. Good chance his family either left Germany or perished in the Holocaust.

6) Is wife's maiden name was "Lyon", or is that her middle name? According to the 1910 census, she was from Missouri. Where did they meet? Where did she go after he died? Did she remarry? If so, to whom and where?

So, the point of all this research and conjecture is to find a living relative of Carlos and Aimee Moser. There are no children recorded in the 1910 census--or at least none living with them in Marathon. So, I'm fearful that there are no direct descendents. Direct descendents are the greatest hope for family stories because people would be more apt to know about their grandfather Carlos and grandmother Aimee than they would about their great uncle (or cousin) Carlos and great aunt Aimee.

Carlos was 23 years older than Aimee. They were married in 1908, so they had seven happy years together. Could they have met in San Antonio? If so, would there be a Lyon family in San Antonio? Was she Jewish as well? That would narrow the field. This was the first marriage for both of them.

And what was it like for Aimee to move from San Antonio to Marathon, and then probably to Boquillas? While Carlos would have been used to life in a frontier mining town, would she? In the early 1900's San Antonio was the biggest city in Texas. It was modern; it was booming. While there may have been up to 3000 people in Boquillas, west Texas and northern Mexico would still be the dry, hot and desolate country it is today.

I suspect Aimee would have gone back home after Carlos' death. Would that have been San Antonio? Or, somewhere in Missouri? 1915 is the last date I have for her, when she was 29.

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August 16, 2004

Alpine Avalanch - 1915

I went to the Center for American History to do see if I could find the obituary for Carlos J. Moser who died on March 2, 1915.

I got confused and thought the date I was looking for was March 15th, so I never looked at March 2nd. However, I did finish out the rest of 1915. I found this interesting paragraph from October 28, 1915 on pg. 2:

"The big cable across the river used to bring ore from the Boquillas mines to the American side was completed last Friday and teams will begin today hauling the ore to the railroad for shipment. More than 1000 men are employed on the Mexican side and 500 on this side of the river in getting this rock to the railroad."

Weird, because I have citations from 1910 saying the cable was working five years earlier than this article.

So what's going on? Could the reporter have made a mistake? Could this citation be the source of the confusion about the years of operation?

Another hypothesis is that some mechanical failure caused the tramway to close down and it was now fully repaired. In any event, I need more information to piece together this story. When I nail down the story, I'll post the citation to the main website.

The numbers are interesting. At its height in the late 1800's, it was estimated that Boquillas had 3,000 inhabitants. 1000 men and their families could be 3000 total, meaning that in 1915 Boquillas was still going strong. The 500 men on the US side were probably freighters, as the cable terminal itself probably took only two men to run and a one customs officer to inspect.

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August 09, 2004

Research at the General Land Office

I was at the Texas General Land Office (GLO) to see if I could determine who owned the land upon which the tramway and terminal were built.

At a suggestion of another researcher I spoke to recently, I brought photos to show the archivists. That really fired them up and it generated some good conversation. One of the people I spoke to said her family had land in Brewster county; she told me that the park service "blew up" many of the old structures. People in the area started asking, "Yeah, whatever happened to X?" because "X" was no longer there. She said that when they confronted the NPS, they admitted to destroying structures, but didn't say why. Don't know when this occured.

Could the NPS have been involved in salvaging the tramway and terminal? I'm confident that it was salvaged for scrap metal because: 1) there are no rollers to be found that once supported the traction cable (there would have been one roller per side on a tower and pictures of the tramway in operation clearly show them), 2) the big, spoked wheels that powered the traction cable looks like their spokes were individually pulled, 3) there's no evidence of an engine at the cable terminal, and 4) the tramway had two cables (a traction cable and a track cable), but you only ever see one when hiking. The salvage operation is a mystery to me.

One of the librarians escorted me to the map room and introduced to me an archivist there. They were both interested in this project. Unfortunately, we couldn't locate the exact location of the tramway on the survey maps from 1904 and 1915 because they didn't have many physical attributes marked on them. I'll need to bring in a topo map with the tramway marked so that we can superimpose it over the survey maps to determine who most likely owned the land.

The archives did give me some interesting tidbits of information. Many of the blocks were given to railroad companies, like the Galveston and Houston Railway Company, but they were required to sell the land fairly quickly. Also, the land was divided up in a checkerboard pattern, where many of the "black" blocks were given to the railway companies and the "white" blocks were kept by the state. This also made it harder for the railway companies to become land speculators.

More to come when I return to the GLO with a map showing the location of the tramway...

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July 08, 2004

Some Info on Carlos Moser

So, after returning home from San Antonio, I checked my email to find a response to my query of the German-Texan Heritage Socity.

The geneology editor did research on my behalf on the "1910 Texas Census".

According to that census, he was living in hotel run or owned by a John M. Chambers in Precinct 3, Brewster County. So, it looks to me that he moved from San Antonio to get closer to the ore terminal, once ore started being moved on a regular basis.

He was born 1857 in Germany. He emmigrated in 1881 and became a Naturalized citizen. His occupation is "Miner, works in Mines on own". He has 52 at the time of the Census, his wife, Aimee L. Moser, was 29. She was born in Missouri.

The editor couldn't find any children. I'm surprised she found anything, as I didn't find Carlos Moser in any Texas census.

Still, this is a great lead and hopefully I can find descendents of Carlos Moser.

Posted by Joelg at 08:16 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Looking In San Antonio

I decided to take a day of my vacation and spend in San Antonio to see if I could find anything about the Del Carmen Company, or its promoter, Carlos Moser.

The only thing I found, were these citations from the San Antonio phone directories, courtesy of the San Antonio Conservation Society.

From the 1908 City Directory:
Moser Carlos, r 221 Slocum Place

From the 1910 City Directory:
Del Carmen Mining Company (C Moser Pres), Alamo Bank Bldg.
Moser Carlos, pres Del Carmen Mining Co. r 106 W. Pecan. [His office was in Room 312; the phone book published tenant directory of major buildings in town.]

There was also a citation for a Thomas Palfrey. Maybe he's related to Paul Paulfrey, Farmer's boss.

From the 1912 Directory:
Palfrey, Thomas B. mgr The Medina Irrigation Co, off Swearingen-Mcrow Bldg. h 111 E Laurel (Barbara Lee); 0 1495, N 1279.

The directories published data from the previous year; so that for example, the 1910 directory is really from much of 1909.

This is cool. Now I know that Moser wasn't just the "promoter" as Farmer Jennings wrote. He was the President of the company. And, he's becoming more of real person, now that I know where he lived. 106 W. Pecan is currently a parking lot. Slocum Place didn't appear on the current map I had with me in my car.

My time spent in other libraries was a bust. No one's heard of Carlos Moser, nor the del Carmen Mining Company.

On the way back to Austin, I stopped off at the Humphries Cemetary in Martindale, near San Marcos. That's where Farmer Jennings is buried. I guess I went because I'm trying to understand the people who worked at the ore terminal as real people. While cemetaries are not my thing, it's satisfying to find the real people who make up the story.

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April 15, 2004

Talking With Authors

I've been spending free time in libraries at UT Austin, the Texas State Library, and online, trying to find out more about the people involved in the terminal and tramway. I feel like I've exhausted the easy secondary resources (many of which I've cited on the web site). So, I decided to ask for help. I've begun emailing the authors of the books I've cited to see if they would be kind enough to point me into more fruitful directions of research.

One author said yes to a phone interview! Unfortunately, he's leaving the country for a month, so I won't be able to talk to him until July.

Admittedly, this is an obscure topic and trying to find descendents to see if there are family stories is an obscure take on the research. But if what if I can put flesh on the bones of the story? At this point, I'm not sure what the bones are because of the conflicting info.

Posted by Joelg at 08:09 PM | Comments (0)

March 05, 2004

First Reading of Alpine Avalanch

Spent time at the "Center for American History" archives library at UT. They have the Alpine Avalanch on microfilm. Seeing as most guide books say the terminal was built in 1914 and ran for five years, I looked at the full year of 1914 and got as far as April 1915, hoping I would find some kind of writeup on the terminal.

No luck. I could have missed something, as I was scanning headlines and they're not that descriptive. Also, many little tidbits don't even have headlines.

Posted by Joelg at 08:49 PM | Comments (0)