Hello fellow travelers,
Do you like maps? I love them; in fact, studying maps as a youngster is a cornerstone of Texas Unknown. As a child I had a fascination with maps, so one year for Christmas my parents gave me a Rand McNally road atlas. I used to pore over the Texas map; looking for oddly named towns and studying the roads that led from my hometown to far away places. We had an elderly neighbor that I often visited, and once as she was talking about her life she casually mentioned that she had grown up in Hamilton. I remember hustling home and looking up Hamilton in my atlas. Just seeing the name on the map lit a fire under me. I had a strong desire to see the town for myself; to find what was special about it, what was hidden. This is a habit that has stayed with me.
Along the way, after a lot of life had happened, I had just about forgotten my childhood dream of visiting every county in Texas. I no longer paid mind to signs pointing to places away from the highway, didn’t stop to read the markers, and didn’t do anything but get from A to B. Then one day, I decided to take a drive down a familiar back road to clear my head. I had learned to drive as a young teen in a sky blue 1955 Ford pickup truck on those roads.
Just riding around alone on a freezing cold day passing old houses, rolling hills, and ancient oaks jarred something loose in me that day in early December. I didn’t have my camera that day, so I made a second trip the same route a week later. That was the day I encountered the Hell Hounds.
In my experience, when you go out with purpose, ready to accept what the world gives you, it never disappoints. Every chance I got after that I went out to get back to my roots, the place I grew up, and likely the place I will be buried someday. Every time was a new adventure, new discovery, new experience mixed with old memories flooding back when faced with familiar scenes. It was sometime around then I realized that there was still so much to see.
This blog started as a way to catalog my findings. I was doing Christmas portraits at the time, and while that was all fine and good all I could think about was capturing something I hadn’t seen before, something obscure, forgotten, unknown. That’s how Texas Unknown was born; as a culmination of who I am mixed with all that Texas is outside of the touristy and crowded bits. Strip away the stereotypes and tropes and you’ll find that Texas is unlike anything on earth; and incredibly deep well of rich secrets waiting to be plumbed by the curious. Which is how we’ve gotten here.
Anyway, I recently stumbled upon this fun tool courtesy of the Texas General Land Office. With it, you can use the viewer to compare current maps to old ones of some major Texas cities; like Abilene, DFW, Houston, and El Paso. There’s also a state map from 1849 that you can play with. The link is down below the image. Check out your area and let me know what you find!