Our Huff Wagon Train Diary
Friday, January 14, 2005

Crane to Horsehead Crossing

From the diary of William P. Huff, June 24, 1849: ...That portion of the road next to the river passes over beds of sand and loose cement in may places, presenting the appearance of sifted flour but of a more yellow color...The Pecos River at this place, which is known as the Horsehead Crossing is narrow and deep, the water of a reddish tinge, very muddy, rapid and impregnated with salt.

From Amanda, Cody, Drew, Kyle, Mandie

Today was our first day with the wagon train. We joined the California students at the community center. We are from Crane, McCamey and Rankin schools. We were a little nervous, a little anxious and excited. We met Mr. Coate and helped highlight maps of our route while the California students got their gear packed up. We all got to play outside for a little while. One of the students fell off the see-saw and we thought she might be hurt. Drew and Cody gave her their coats for pillows. Fortunately she was all right.

We motored to camp. It looks like any place in west Texas -- fruitful of mesquite and pretty flat. We met the California students through a special activity. We got paired up and had to find a quiet spot and tell each other about ourselves. We were supposed to introduce our partner to the group. Mr. Coate passed around his cane to use as a talking stick (only the person holding the stick can talk). It was fun and it wasn't that hard. It helped a little bit to get over our nervousness, since we had a friend to talk to.

The muleskinners taught us how to hitch the mules to the wagon. Kyle and Drew got to drive wagons today. We went to Horsehead Crossing on the Pecos River. Mr. Joe Allen briefed us about the history of the old days and Horsehead Crossing and told us the story behind the name. When people went there they found horse and mule skulls along the bank and hence the name, Horsehead Crossing. Mr. Allen put up flags to show us the route that Huff took. The owner of this ranch told a story of getting stuck in the Pecos River and almost drowning. The bottom of the river is like quicksand and the water is salty. He got out safely and so did his horse after struggling for a long time. The ride back to camp was fun and bumpy. When we got back we helped unhitch the wagons and put the mules in the pen.

The ranchers that let us use their property came by and we thanked them for their generosity. Mr. came and while he was walking around, found an iron powder flask from before the Civil War! They will put this in the museum. Everyone was surprised. Some of us also got roping lessons! We tried to rope an orange cone.

In camp, we discussed and studied the diary about Horsehead Crossing and the Pecos. Mr. Coate taught us a game and if we won he would give us $100! No one beat him. Drew says he got close and he developed a new strategy he's going to try on Mr. Coate the next time. He's keeping it a secret. The game is an old Indian rock game. (We didn't have enough rocks so we used coins.)

We're going to sleep in the big tent tonight a.k.a. THE TENT. Some of us are excited, and some are a little nervous!

Amanda: Today was fun.

Cody: I like riding in the wagons.

Drew: It was an awesome experience driving the wagon and I can't wait for tomorrow.

Kyle: It was like the best thing ever to drive the wagon. Ditto to Drew.

Mandie: Today was extremely interesting.


The following is a photo gallery from the trip. If you have questions, please contact us at education@tpwd.state.tx.us


Credits

This educational project is a partnership venture of Madera Unified School District, Madera, California; the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department; the Texas Historical Commission; and the many generous and gracious communities along the route.

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