Every Thursday morning I get up early and make ready for the drive to Lubbock to teach my 4300 photography class at Texas Tech University. Some people might think that it’s a drive to dread but on the contrary I consider it my weekly historical tour, viewing the landmarks and remembering passages written by pioneers, explorers and cavalry officers who traveled along and across the paved 125 mile trail known today as Highway 114.
I was raised on a ranch in Knox County and whose borders meandered alongside Highway 114 for a distance of some 11 miles, ending just south of my hometown of Benjamin. As a young boy growing up on the ranch I developed an interest in paleontology and archeology, riding horseback along the arroyos and ridgelines searching for evidence of ancient man or the remains of those great beasts that roamed the Texas plains over the 12,000 years before our time. Flint points, fire hearths, and an occasional bison skull hinted of another time when life was fleeting, with the land a challenge to man or beast at every turn. In my horse back forays in search of things from a bygone era, I would often stumble upon items of a younger age such as empty rifle casings from the late 19th century and an occasional deformed slug in a buffalo hunters camp. I did not appreciate these century old artifacts until my adult years when I began to consider the significance of the plains region and its historical heritage relating to early day life and pioneer excursions across the land.
I believe that in knowing our past is to better understand the present and perhaps foresee to some extent, our path into the future. In my quest to accumulate knowledge about our Texas history I have collected a fine reference library where, by reading the written account of others, I can travel in the days of a younger land and experience vicariously, the adventures of those pioneers such as Kendall, Cook and Carter.
What say lets take a trip from Benjamin to Lubbock and view the land through the written words of those men who lived and experienced a time we can hardly fathom today. Quite honestly, your future trips down Hwy 114 may never be the same again.