Sunday, December 25, 2011

Marking Time #16 - Collin Street Bakery

Just in time for Christmas: a fruitcake themed edition of "Marking Time"!

The Collin Street Bakery in 1896 in Corsicana, TX and is known all over the world for their famous fruitcake!

They create all kinds of other confections here but it is the fruitcake that brings in the crowds. And when they stop by they can take a gander at the historical marker:

The marker reads:

Opened two blocks north of this site in 1896, by August Weidmann, an immigrant baker from Wiesbaden, Germany, and W. T. McElwee, a local cotton buyer.
Combining the talents of a baker whose pride and joy was baking a better cake with the flare of a man whose business ability had a touch of the sensational was a move that resulted in a most unusual and successful business enterprise.
One of Weidmann's few assets was an unknown cake recipe. This was to become the famous original "deluxe fruitcake," today shipped to every state in the United States and to many foreign countries.
McElwee, a lover of sports and the theatre, built a rooming house over the bakery in 1906, and invited visiting baseball players, circus performers and vaudeville troupes to stay there. Soon guests were having fruitcakes shipped to friends in remote places.
Employees at the bakery during this era recall visits from Will Rogers, Enrico Caruso, John J. McGraw, "Gentlemen Jim" Corbett and many other celebrities. They also recall the day the great circus showman, John Ringling, and many of his famous performers stopped in an ordered Christmas cakes sent to their many friends in distant lands.

So there you have it! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Marking Time #15 - "Katy" & the Red River Railroad Museum

All aboard for the next installment of "Marking Time"!

The marker near the Red River Railroad Museum in Denison, TX is all about "Katy" and it reads:

In 1865 the Union Pacific Railway southern branch was incorporated to build a railroad from the St. Louis-Kansas City area to the Gulf of Mexico. In 1870, with construction completed to the border of Indian Territory, the line was renamed the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad. This title was often shortened to M-K-T, which led to the familiar nickname by with the line is best known -- "The Katy."
Following the route of an old cattle trail, the Katy became the first railroad to cross Indian Territory, now the state of Oklahoma, and enter Texas from the north. On Christmas Day 1872, over 100 passengers rode the first Katy train into Denison, a new townsite named for M-K-T Vice President George Denison. The construction and acquisition of branch lines soon extended the Katy east to Greenville, west to Rotan and Wichita Falls, and south to Galveston and San Antonio. By 1904, the system had over 1,000 miles of track in Texas. The railroad transported cattle, cotton, and other crops to market. It also carried passengers on such trains as the "Texas Special" and the "Katy Flyer" before passenger service ended in 1965.
Today (1975) Denison is a division headquarters on the M-K-T and the home of about 600 railroad employees.

Here is some video we shot at the museum & depot:

(FUN FACT: We shot this about 30 minutes after Devin had left the emergency room after hurting his hand. We tried (and failed) to hide the bandage on his hand by having him stand behind stuff.)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Dallas Museum of Nature & Science's Origami Tree

The Dallas Museum of Natural History in (now known as the Museum of Nature & Science after merging with the science place) had a holiday tradition of putting up a tree and having their patrons decorate it with origami. We shot this a video a few years back:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Marking Time #14: Amarillo - Helium Capital of the World

We head to the Texas panhandle for the next installment of "Marking Time"...all the way to Amarillo, Texas, home of big steaks, planted Cadillacs and, yes, helium.

It's true, Amarillo is sometimes known as the "Helium Capital of the World" due to amount of halium gas produced from the area. In 1968 this monument to helium (and is meant to resemble a helium molecule) was build an now stands outside the Don Harrington Discovery Center.

The historical marker reads:

"Erected 1968, commemorating the 100th Anniversary of discovery of helium in the gaseous atmosphere surrounding the sun. (The discovery of traces of helium on earth was first announced in 1895.)
The four time columns are filled with books, documents, and various artifacts that will tell future generations about life in 1968. After the time columns were filled, the caps were welded on and the contents sealed in a helium atmosphere. In twenty-five, fifty, one-hundred, and one thousand years from the time of filling, the four individual columns are to be opened.
Helium is an element which occurs in commercial volume in natural gas produced since 1918 from wells in the Texas Panhandle. In 1929 the first of several helium processing plants began operations near Amarillo. Large quantities of helium extracted from natural gas are stored underground northwest of Amarillo, and will provide a valuable source of supply for many years. Once used only in lighter-than-air craft, helium now serves vital needs in industry, science, and the nation's military and space programs."

As mentioned on the marker, the capsule contains four time capsules. The first one was opened in 1993 and the contents are on display inside the museum. The others will be open in 2018, 2068 and 2968!

I can't wait to see what's in there!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Marking Time #13: Morris Sheppard Dam & Possum Kingdom Lake

It's been a while since we've done a "Marking Time" entry so let's head out to picturesque Possum Kingdom Lake to brush up on our local history with a side dish of geology.

Today's historical marker commemorates the impressive Morris Sheppard Dam at Possum Kingdom.

It reads:

"Built in response to disastrous Brazos River flooding, Morris Sheppard Dam and Possum Kingdom Reservoir were early attempts at water conservation and flood control in Texas. The U.S. Government funded $4,500,000 of the three-year, $8,500,000 project through the Works Progress Administration, a Depression era recovery agency. Named for U.S. Senator Morris Sheppard and completed in 1941, the dam is 2,740 feet long and 190 feet high. Nine spillway gates allow for the passage of flood waters and drift material. Power generating facilities consist of two 11,250-killowatt units which serve much of the surrounding area. The creation of Possum Kingdom Lake from the impounded waters of Morris Sheppard Dam sent bridges, roads and an entire town underwater. Recovery was initially slow, but quickly picked up after World War II with the establishment of major fishing lodges, camping areas and other recreational facilities. The growth and success of the area is a tribute to the spirit of the surrounding communities which continue to benefit from the project's original purposes of water conservation and supply, and hydroelectric power generation."

And on our last visit we shot some video about the lakes geology. Check it out:

Thursday, December 1, 2011

On Location #10 - Go West

This time we head out to the Big Bend area of west Texas to find our next filming location. Big Bend Ranch State Park contains what seems to be a deserted village but in actuality it is a completely fake movie set.

"Contrabando" was built for a film called "Uphill All the Way" but we today we'll look at it being featured in "Streets of Laredo" which was the sequel to "Lonesome Dove."

A lot of the movie takes place in "Ojinaga, Mexico" and the hovel seen in the background here:

And here we are getting some video of it:

Here's a wide shot from the film showing off more of the village:

And a similar shot with us visiting. You can see that a small church has been added to the background and other small changes but the mountains remain the same:

And you may ask, what were we shooting while we were there? I'm glad you asked. Here is the video we shot that shows off the movie set and explains some of the science behind the geology of the area and why it looks so darn cool:

Monday, November 28, 2011

On Location #9 - Small Town Double Feature

Time for another "On Location"! Crandall, TX (just southeast of Dallas) is a small town like any other where nothing ever seems to happen but it has been the filming location for at least two major motion pictures!

1967's Bonnie and Clyde tells the true story of two Texas bank robbing lovers and was filmed in and around the Lone Star State. In this scene Gene Wilder is making time with his special lady while Bonnie & Clyde steal his car:

He then jumps into action in a vain attempt to stop the robbery. You can see that the house is still there but is in bad shape. I believe it was bought by the church next door and they are making restorations.

Later on in the film the duo are on Main Street in downtown Crandall:

You can see that a lot has changed but the water tower is still in the background:

Main Street also makes an appearance in 1999's "Boys Don't Cry." The Karate School has been replaced with a Mexican restaurant but not much else has changed since then:

Saturday, November 19, 2011

On Location #8 - "Serving Sara" at Pioneer Plaza

In the interest of full disclosure, I've never actually watched this movie:

But only because it looks absolutely horrible. "Serving Sara" came out in 2002 and the other day I scanned through it to pull these stills. So, with that complimentary introduction, let's get started!

Our first stop is what I like to call "the dome thingy outside Comerica Bank Tower" in downtown Dallas. In the film it was a steak restaurant:

But the most recognizable Dallas location is Pioneer Plaza (also in downtown). It's featured in a foot chase scene with Bruce Campbell and a sweaty, bloated Matthew Perry.

Campbell then runs past the Pioneer Plaza Cemetery and the Confederate War Memorial (which is in the opposite direction that he was running in the magic!) on his way into the Convention Center.

And then some other stuff happens and then the movie ends. Roll credits!

In the interest of maintaining some educational content in the blog, here's a video segment we shot on Pioneer Plaza:

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

On Location #7 - "The Good Guys" in Fair Park

Let's have another look at some Dallas shooting locations of the unjustly canceled Fox series "The Good Guys." This time our stop is Fair Park!

In episode #4 "The Dim Knight", an out of town chemical supplier meets with his translator right outside Centennial Hall. As they talk you can see the Hall of State in the background. (Later they go get hamburgers in a part of town that is not too far from there.)

In episode #8 "Silvio's Way" a duo of incompetent thieves target pharmacies. For some reason the producers thought that the Coliseum in Fair Park would make a great pharmacy in the episode...and it seems to work. (Later in the episode the thieves try to rob Raven's Pharmacy in south Dallas.)

In episode #12 Little Things" the guys take part in training kids for the police sponsored "Juniors Officers" program. They conduct the exercises at the Leonhardt Lagoon which is behind the Museum of Nature & Science and in front of the Cotton Bowl.

All right Junior Officers, I've only got one more episode of this show to watch so we'll see if our heroes managed to visit any other famous Dallas locations.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

On Location #6 - Raven's Pharmacy

Once again we had back to the streets of Dallas to track down another filming location for the short lived Fox series "The Good Guys." This time we end up at the semi-historic Raven Pharmacy which is in south Dallas on Jefferson Street and N. Adams Ave between Llewellyn and Bishop.

In the episode the store is robbed by some would-be thieves who botch the robbery and have to flee quickly (or else get ventilated by the clerk's shotgun). When they rush out you can see a few of the other businesses across Jefferson Street.

They quickly jump in their van and make their escape by heading east toward Bishop Ave.

So there ya have...short and sweet. I'm almost out of "Good Guys" episodes so you'll only have to put up with a few more of these and then I'll switch to movies.