Following the Texas Mountain Trail

Sunrise in Van Horn, Texas; Texas Mountain Trail’s  Facebook page

Yesterday we welcomed Beth Nobles onto our site as one of what we’re calling our Rural Correspondents–folks who are working on the ground level to foster the arts in our rural communities. Beth is a visual artist and the executive Director of the Texas Mountain Trail, a non-profit organization working on community development and tourism marketing for Far West Texas.

Especially after considering the argument for regional collaboration within Grant Wood’s essay Revolt Against the City, the Texas Mountain Trail organization seems to have their finger on a vision of the kinds of partnerships for which a number of rural regions could avail themselves. All of the pieces are here: broad cooperation amongst businesses, organizations and artists–and, importantly, an attractive and informative website with a social media component. As a sidebar on the site tells us, The Texas Mountain Trail is connected, through a program of the Texas Historical Commission, to the nine other Heritage Trail Regions of the state.

One feature of the site that fascinated us was the story of Van Horn’s Clark Hotel, which hosts, every five years, an all-town reunion. Photographers were on hand at the last gathering to document, in portraiture, all of the returning families–a visual model of a town’s family tree. 

A collection of 500 photographs contained in the Clark Hotel has also been digitized and included on the University of North Texas’s Portal to Texas History archive. Just as our site is beginning to consider forms of vernacular architecture and art, this is a wonderful discovery, and it’s in keeping with other such archives we’ve discussed at the Library of Congress and the Florida Memory Archives.

Here’s one of our favorites: Costumed Ladies. Though the photograph contains no information on the occasion for such costuming, we are informed that the participants consist of “Clara Bean, Neva Harrell, Mrs. Wylie, Pansy Durrill Cleg, Mrs. D.B. Jackson, Mrs. Daisy Rowe, Mrs. Jack Price:”