Thursday, August 26, 2004

A Trail Through History...

this is an audio post - click to play

Imagine if you can, a weathered old cowboy on the Western Trail around 1880, driving a herd of Texas longhorns to Dodge City, Kan. His Stetson is pulled low over his eyes and his wet bandana is tied tight over his mouth and nose to keep out the swirling dust kicked up by the cattle.

His men are strung out the length of the indifferent herd - just over 2,500 head. The men have a sixth sense about this innocent summer day, and they are on edge. They know the dust can turn to mud in a minute. They know that the docile animals they're driving can, with a flash of lightning, turn into raging beasts in less time than that. It is an uneasy ride.

They've been here before. The prairie has been open range, without fence or farm, since they left Ft. Griffin. Day is drawing to a close. Whatever the night brings, they will face alone.

Now fast-forward to 2004. The trail boss reaches into her shirt pocket for a Cingular wireless phone. She turns it on its side and takes a picture of the fenced pastures up ahead that used to be part of the old trail. She clicks a button and checks the picture she just snapped. Now she dials a phone number to and presents her username and password and downloads the picture to, which is the official blog, or web log, of Celebrate the Western Trail.

She keys in another number and tells the story of today's ride in her Texas drawl. When she is finished with her five-minute report, she keys the cell phone and her voice is placed on the On the Trail Blog, along with the earlier photo.

Children in China will access the website of the blog to read and see progress up the historic cattle trail. Students in Poland can see the same post and discuss how life must have been in the American West of earlier days. The lesson is learning English-as-a-Second-Language, the history of the American Frontier and the uses of technology, all brought about by a review of the blog.

When the trail ride comes to rest by the campfire at the next town on their itinerary, someone will present our trail boss with a set of questions gathered from the day's e-mails and she will decide which ones to answer by e-mail and which ones to answer on the blog.

Tomorrow, when the kid in Nebraska checks the automatic posting of the On the Trail Blog, he'll find out from the trail boss that the batteries are recharged each night and that at least two sets of fresh batteries are always on hand.

Bandera Regional Comm-unity Foundation sponsors the On The Trail Blog, one of the educational components of Celebrate the Western Trail. The foundation organized the Friends of the Western Trail in 2003, whose purpose is to support the trail ride, and to preserve the history and heritage of the American West. The trail ride will leave Bandera on Sept. 6, Labor Day, and follow the Western Trail to Dodge City, Kan.

The blogging, the brainchild of Elderbob Brannan, ( will occur daily for the duration of the trail drive. The On the Trail Blog will also contain a historical narrative that relates to actual sites on the trail, described by Brock Jones III, a professor at Sul Ross University. Jones is blind and will use a voice-assisted computer device to write his post.

Please join the trail ride electronically on the Internet. You are welcome to point your browser to, the On the Trail Blog, for a daily update on the progress of Celebrate the Western Trail.

Celebrate the Western Trail is part of Celebrate Bandera, the annual Labor Day weekend celebration of Bandera's frontier heritage. Celebrate Bandera is also sponsored by the Bandera Regional Community Foundation. The purpose of both events is to raise money for the Bandera County Disaster Relief Fund and to help finance the cost of marking the Western Trail in Texas.



Anonymous said...

I am on the computer every evening to get your up dates of the trail ride. I have a friend enjoying the trail ride and he will check in once a week as he will be able to get to a phone. But I want to keep up with all that is happening everyday. Thanks for your good work.

Anonymous said...

For a daily journal entry about the Mustangs, on the the western trail, go to then scroll down to september 6, 2004.

Mustang Bob