El Camino Real de los Tejas

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, The Brazos Valley Museum of Natural History is pleased to present an exhibit developed by the Museum, El Camino Real de los Tejas: Gateway to Texas History, September 20, 2012 – January 12, 2013. The exhibit opening reception, free to the public, will begin at 6:00 pm, Thursday, September 20, with a fascinating presentation by Christopher Talbot about the exhibit. Christopher is an Associate Professor in the School of Art at Stephen F. Austin University and has previously exhibited his magnificent photographs about the El Camino Real de los Tejas for the National Park Service. His work is supported by Stephen F. Austin University and the National Trails Intermountain Region’s Challenge Cost Share Program. Some of his panoramic photographs are in the permanent collection at The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. His recently published book, Nacogdoches Now and Then, is a collaborative, re-photographic project that he completed with his university students.

Gallery viewing and a wine and hor d'oeuvres reception will follow giving visitors an opportunity to view this remarkable exhibit.

The exhibit showcases breathtaking images that offer a glimpse of the significance and beauty of the historic resources associated with El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail. Stunning photographs taken along the Camino Real by noted Mission photographer Chris Talbot and by Mission researcher Joel Kitchens, along with photographs of modern-day blacksmiths keeping their ancient profession alive by Dr. Wayne Smith, (Associate Professor, INA Faculty Fellow in Nautical Archaeology, Director, Archaeological Preservation Research Laboratory, and Director of the Wilder 3-Dimensional Imaging Laboratory, at Texas A&M University), will augment displays featuring materials demonstrative of early settlement and trade in Texas.

Photographs and historical documents from the Colonial Mexican Collection, Cushing Library, Texas A&M University, will accompany exquisite blacksmith artifacts and art compiled from local blacksmith artisans by Alan Lee of SteepHollow Forgeworks.

Timed to be in conjunction with the Museum’s annual fall festival, Boonville Days Living History Fair, on Saturday, October 6th, the exhibit provides historical information El Camino Real de los Tejas.  Designated as a National Historic Trail in 2004, this roadway has existed for more than 300 years, running from Natchitoches,  Louisiana through Texas to the arid lands of Old Mexico. Early outposts along this and other such highways offered travelers and settlers respite, access to supplies, and some degree of protection from the hazards of the frontier.

These mission settlements attracted a variety of skilled laborers plying trades lucrative on the frontier. Among the most indispensable of these craftsmen were blacksmiths.  So essential were they, that during much of the 19th century, the US government often included provisions in their treaties with Native Americans to employ blacksmiths at Army installations and on reservations to provide tools and services to the tribes.

Learn about Spanish and Texas Heritage through this remarkable exhibit as it examines the development along El Camino Real and the emergence of commerce there, utilizing the blacksmith’s trade as a portal to understanding aspects of each.

Photo:  Acequia San Juan, San Antonio, TX, 2010, by Chirstopher Talbot

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Mission Espada Aqueduct in San Antonio shows a historic imprint on the landscape from El Camino Real de los Tejas.