The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Thursday, August 21, 2014


18th-Century Texas Mission Ranch Buried in Funding Limbo
Archaeologist Cyndi Dickey works to protect a wall at Rancho de las Cabras, a birthplace of Texas' ranching industry dating back roughly 250, in Floresville, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009. Archaeologists say the 100-acre site is the last remaining link to the original ranches and cowboys that shaped Texas, but it remains mostly hidden, waiting for preservation and development that would allow visitors to enjoy it. AP Photo/Eric Gay.

By: Michelle Roberts, Associated Press Writer

FLORESVILLE, TX (AP).- Ruins that archeologists call one of the last links to the original ranches and cowboys that shaped Texas have been kept behind a gate, literally buried, for more than two decades — awaiting the funding that would allow people to see them.

The 18th-century Rancho de las Cabras complex, with its stone building remains, was a birthplace of the large commercial ranching operations that would help define the state. Preservationists have long hoped it could be fully excavated and opened to the public, but so far, the site has been unable to attract the money it would need from Congress or the National Park Service's stretched budget.

"It's one of these kind of once-in-a-lifetime sites. You're not going to be able to see something like this anywhere in the world," said National Park Service Archaeologist Susan Snow. "The mission ranches brought what we know today as the modern cattle industry."

The 100-acre site about 30 miles southeast of San Antonio was donated 32 years ago to the state, which handed it to the National Park Service nearly 15 years ago as an addition to the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park.

Texas park officials realized in the 1980s that they couldn't afford to protect the ruins, so they covered the walls with sand in an effort to prevent them from disintegrating before archaeologists could fully document and shore up the site. Until a month ago, no one had seen them since.

Archaeologists from the National Park Service and the University of Texas-San Antonio removed some of the sand to see how the walls were holding up and found them — some several feet high with their mortar disintegrated — still standing.

There is still no money to preserve the site, so the park service reburied the walls to protect them from the elements and the feral hogs that roam the area.

Park Superintendent Scott Bentley estimates it would take $3 million to $4 million to preserve and open the site to the public. It would cost $300,000 to $400,000 annually to operate it. Plans were drawn up a decade ago and missions park officials hoped their request would soon be funded.

But the site is in a queue with other proposed projects, and so far Rancho de las Cabras has received funding only for relatively modest road improvements or maintenance. Otherwise, it needs a congressional appropriation — something National Park Service employees are barred from directly lobbying for.

Rancho de las Cabras, like other mission ranches in south Texas, was built by the Spaniards as a source of wealth for its mission community, Mission Espada.

The missions were founded to turn indigenous tribes into Spanish citizens, and the communities were built with farms and ranches to offer financial support and protection from the raiding Apache and Comanche Indians. Each mission had a prominent church, since the native residents had to convert to Catholicism to become Spanish citizens.

The ranches were used to graze cattle, goats and sheep. The Spanish transplants and Indian converts who drove herds to the mission compounds for slaughter every 10 days were Texas' first cowboys, Snow said.

Each of the five missions clustered along the San Antonio River, including the Alamo, had its own ranch. Rancho de las Cabras, or "goat ranch," had 1,272 head of cattle and 4,000 sheep and goats at its peak in 1762. It supported about 170 people at Mission Espada.

As the ranches became part of larger tracts in Texas' flourishing ranching industry, the remnants of most mission ranch buildings and artifacts vanished to the elements and looters.

But Rancho de las Cabras had more than simple adobe or wooden structures for shelter. It had permanent buildings including a chapel and four adjoining rooms started in the 1750s with sandstone quarried at the site. The chapel, which the archaeologists did not uncover last month, is believed to have been plastered — a mark of a more sophisticated development.

Archaeologists have also found remnants of some unexpected items at the site, including decorated ceramics and rings with gems — "things you wouldn't expect a cowboy to have," Snow said. There is also a packed clay floor in the compound, like a patio, another relative luxury for a ranching outpost, she said.

That has led to suggestions that the ranch, which sits 25 miles from Espada and at the confluence of the San Antonio River and Pecosa Creek, could have served passing travelers or had another use in addition to providing food for its mission community, Snow said.

"This was an extraordinary operation," Bentley said, looking at the remnants of the stone walls that were being covered again. "It's one of those hidden treasures."


Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.


Rancho de las Cabras | San Antonio Missions National Historical Park | Susan Snow | Scott Bentley | National Park Service |


Today's News

December 28, 2009

Stolen Painting by Leonardo Goes Back on View at the National Galleries in Scotland

Tate Modern's Pop Life to Travel to Hamburger Kunsthalle in February

18th-Century Texas Mission Ranch Buried in Funding Limbo

Center for Fine Arts in Brussels Announces El Greco Exhibition

Kunsthal Charlottenborg Shows the Consequences of Globalization

Laurent Delaye Presents Waseem Ahmed's First Solo Exhibition in the UK

Exhibition of Prints by Artist Wayne Thiebaud at Greenfield Sacks Gallery

Photographers Offer their Vision of the Urban Landscape at Foam

The Huarte Center Holds the "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity" Exhibition

Photograph by Fashion Photographer Robert Voltaire Fetched $22,000.00

Pascale Marthine Tayou Invited by lille3000 to Present a Monumental Exhibition

Artium Presents Works by Winners of the 20th Edition of the Gure Artea Awards

"Hobby Life" by Sarah Baker, Galen Riley, Covadonga Valdes at Carter Presents

Michelle Hinebrook & Nicki Stager Exhibit at Like the Spice Gallery in Brooklyn

Lisa Viaene from Sijsele Wins the Sculpture by Clemens Briels

Michener Art Museum Takes Part in Greater Philadelphia Printmaking Celebration

Taiwanese Artist's Works Capture the Energy Flow of the Traditional Chinese Concept of "qi'

USC Fisher Museum to Highlight Works from Its Collection in Exhibition

Metropolitan Announces Exhibition of Drawings from the Tobey Collection

Cinema Latino Spotlights Best New and Classic Latin Films

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Mystery over massive Alexander the Great-era tomb unearthed in northern Greece

2.- An ancient money box containing a large rare hoard of coins found in Israel

3.- Robin Williams' portrait installed today at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington

4.- The Baltimore Museum of Art announces three new contemporary exhibitions in fall

5.- New Aspen Art Museum designed by architect Shigeru Ban opens to the public

6.- New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art launches 82nd & Fifth app in 12 languages

7.- MoMA online-only publication features new research on Pablo Picasso and Cubism

8.- Volunteers needed for massive Smithsonian digitization project

9.- Tate Britain welcomes home John Everett Millais's Ophelia and Rossetti’s The Beloved

10.- Bogart estate: Hollywood golden age icon Lauren Bacall dead at 89 in New York



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Rmz. - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site