Sunday, July 21, 2013

Ghosts of Goliad

When I need to get away I hop in my car and drive.  Texas country roads are full of breathtaking scenery, mysterious landscapes, and sudden surprises.  Miles and miles and miles of twisty turns and straight shots from one ghost town to another.  There is so much pasture land and forgotten space in Texas that when one gets out of the car under the massive Texas sky the sound of the wind is sweet melody ripe for losing oneself.
 On a 30 mile stretch of road between Tivoli and Goliad I passed only two cars, and no one was ever in front of or behind me. I can't help but imagine I am lost in one of those "end of the world" scenarios where the population has died off  in an urban science experiment and I am left like a peaceful Mad Max roaming the countryside seeking other survivors. The falcons high in the sky swirling close to the sun add credibility as I push the petal to 80 mph.  After all, I need to get to Goliad before the Mission Espirtu Santo Zuniga and the Presidio La Bahia lock their doors for the day.
Goliad immediately joins the ranks of my top 10 Texas towns!  A key player in the War for Texas Independence, this tiny town packs volumes of history in a very short distance.  With tragic battles, a game changing massacre, and a famous hanging tree in the town square, Goliad was prime pickins for a ghostly explore. 
First stop was the Mission Espiritu Santo; a beautiful restoration of the original structure on the grounds of Goliad State Park.  A docent in Monk attire explains how the Mission was moved several times due to Indian raids before settling on the San Antonio River. 
A comprehensive museum shows the recovered artifacts and illustrates how artists replicated the works that had been destroyed by nature or locals who sourced the stones in construction of their homes.  Thanks to the WPA and progressive efforts of community leaders in the 1930's, the Mission was granted protection and preservation funds. 
Less than a 1/4 mile up the road is the Presidio La Bahia, an 18th century fort and Mission that became the end point for as many as 400 Texan soldiers massacred by Santa Ana's troops in the Texas War for Independence.
 Though I didn't encounter the wailing woman ghost or hear any mournfully departed cries, here I fell in love with the early Texan flags and found inspiration for a future needlework project.  Both the Mission and the Presidio were history buff bargains with the entrance price for both setting me back $7.  A small price to pay for the privilege. 
Goliad's town square is lined with picturesque shops, many named to playfully reflect the dark ghost on the courthouse lawn: the hanging tree.  After Texas won independence from Mexico, the towns were in shambles from the battles.  Looting and lawlessness abound.  The crime spree came to a sudden end with the decree that these criminals be captured and hung.  And so they were. 
I am pretty sure the "orb" is just a sun spot, but perhaps the figure in the lower left right window isn't so natural.  (Insert eerie music here.)
Like a specter itself, Goliad rises from the dead at dawn and closes back into herself at 5 p.m. Rumor has it Goliad's ghosts prefer the night. But that explore will have to wait for another day.
As evening hours settle in not a soul is seen on the streets and again I am back in my "end of the world" scenario.  Having learned what I could from Goliad, it was time for me to leave town, pack up my Mad Max Honda Element and speed on under the wide open Texas sky, to chase the sunset and find the next glimpse of civilization. 

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