Texas – The Summerland of Wintertime

Thirty or forty years ago, Texas was the dream-objective of every American boy. For him, a seemingly endless plain stretched away from the wooded river bottoms of the East to the mountains of the western border. It was bathed in sunshine and swept by glorious breezes from the Gulf. And its four-hundred-mile fringe of bay-indented coast was full of shallow inlets and countless swimmin’ holes.

It was the old cow country land of lariats and spurs, of sombreros and chaps, of spirited horses and cattle herds innumerable.

In its history, the keen bowie knife and forbidding six-shooter had figured prominently. It had owed its allegiance to four flags before it had come finally to the protecting folds of the Stars and Stripes. The early Spaniards had planted their missions; the French had followed, lending their quaint customs to the romance of the land; later the Mexicans; then Davy Crockett at the Alamo, the fore-unner of the Lone Star Republic. All these had left their stamp upon the country.

Texas: A big state

But it was the bigness of Texas, more than anything else, that appealed to the young imagination of the late [18]70s — the wide out-of-doors ending in the limitless horizon, that gave real freedom beneath an open southern sky.

And it is the same bigness, with its consequent freedom, that appeals to the grown-ups of today. For Texas, although the days of romance and the open range have been left behind, is none the less a land of magnificent distances.

Elbow-room is the birthright of the Texan. The expression “as far as the East is from the West,” may be applied wholly to Texas and still retain its full force. It is as far from Texarkana on the East to El Paso on the West, as it is from Texarkana to Milwaukee, Wis., to Columbus, Ohio, or to Savannah, Georgia.

In area, the state is equal to four New Englands, to six New Yorks, and it is larger than France. If the entire population of the United States were to settle within its boundaries, there would be no more congestion than there is at present in Massachusetts.

>> Building modern El Paso (1914)

The heritage of elbow-room like this is a year ’round asset, but it is to be appreciated particularly in the winter time. While people of the North, hemmed in by four walls, are hovering over steam-coils and fireplaces, Texas and her visitors are out in the open picking oranges, oleanders and roses, or bathing in the surf of the Gulf; for the region which includes Texas, New Mexico and Arizona enjoys a higher percentage of days of sunshine than any other part of the United States.

The surf along the Gulf Coast of Texas is never too cold for a dip

It is a wonderful privilege to be able thus to live all winter not only in the out-of- doors, but in the most expansive out-of-doors there is. Physical bigness begets mental bigness. The vastness of a boundless plain or a huge body of water enlarges the viewpoint and contents the soul. Whether fishing for silver tarpon or gamy mackerel, or riding the range which has been for years the delight of the hardy cow-man, the spell of Texas is upon the visitor.

And it may now be enjoyed in tenderfoot comfort. Railroads leading from every point of the compass and operating through Pullman service from many of the principal commercial centers of the country, criss-cross the state. Throughout the winter resort regions and in other sections of Texas, there are magnificent hostelries which offer not only the comforts, but all the luxuries obtainable at the best metropolitan and resort hotels of the country. The cities of Texas are of special interest to tourists, typifying as they do the hustle and enterprise of the Southwest.

Most of the resort hotels are adjacent to playgrounds devoted to various winter sports. Some of the golf links are equal to the best in the country. They are kept in condition for use and are used every day in the year.

For those who enjoy yachting, the land-locked bays of the coast offer ideal courses. Surf, bathing and fishing — the most exciting to be found anywhere a– 0re to be enjoyed all winter. Millions of game birds, wild geese and ducks, quail and snipe make their winter homes here.

The country is gridironed by a system of well built public roads, which together with the firm, sandy beaches, are unusually attractive for the automobilist.

And for those who prefer that greatest of all health-giving exercises horseback riding Texas, the original cow country of the West and the home of the horse, holds an irresistible lure.

Agricultural and industrial interests

The agricultural and industrial interests of the state contribute not a little to the enjoyment of the visitor. Roadways which are flanked by grapefruit, orange groves, peach orchards and broad wheat ranches or cotton plantations, add much to the pleasure of a motor or horse-back jaunt, and a view of the oil fields is one of the most entertaining features of an expedition to the Texas winter resort region.

The story of oil in Texas is like a page from the Arabian Nights, in which the wildest dreams of wealth come true. For little more than a year, it has been in the writing, and it is still far from complete, but in number of people involved, and in the amount of wealth realized, it has been many times greater and more spectacular than was the romantic gold rush of ’49.

>> Landmark Texas ranch homes disappearing (1920)

From Burkburnett, near the extreme northern boundary, straight down through the center of the state, and on to the great Tampico oil fields in Mexico, extends a geological formation known as the Pennsylvania stratum. Here thousands of men and women have grown rich over night many among their number having visited Texas for the first time a year ago for the sole purpose of enjoying the mild climate and the winter sports.

Many and varied as are the pleasures of the day, the climax is reached when the evening shadows have gathered. Then there are the social gayeties of the ball-room or Casino, accompanied by the music of the hotel orchestras; out on the beaches, groups of carefree night-bathers view the myriads of stars reflected back by the restless waves; or, in contrast to their merry voices, is the silence of the range camp, where a silvery southern moon looks down upon and illumines the white tent of a hunter or a roving auto-wanderer.

Below: See more from this vintage book, including photographs

About this story

Source publication: Texas Winter Resorts, by the United States Railroad Administration

Source publication date: c1919

Filed under: 1910s, Photos & photography, Places

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