Archaeology in Houston? Uncovering Memorial Park’s History

Did you know that the US Army set up camp on the banks of Buffalo Bayou — where Houston’s beloved Memorial Park is today?

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Yes, Camp Logan was built as an emergency training center in World War I built in 1917 with the capacity to house 44,899 troops at a time.

“As you walk or run through Memorial Park now, it’s hard to imagine a huge sprawling military base on its grounds, but historic photographs of the camp depict row after row of tens on raised wooden platforms along graded streets near mess halls and latrines – and many of those foundation features are still visible in the wooded areas of the park,” comments historian and archaeologist Louis Aulbach.

The streets in Camp Logan were unpaved or surfaced with oyster shell or cinders. A 600-ton deep water well south of Washington Avenue serviced the camp, producing over 1 million gallons of water per day.

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“The thing that surprises us is how little you will hear or read about Camp Logan in any of the books dedicated to Houston’s history,” says Linda Gorski of Houston Archeological Society, “Most of the residents of River Oaks have no idea that Camp Logan extended across Buffalo Bayou and that horses and men paraded on grounds that are now their front yards.”

Little was recorded about Camp Logan so historians and archaeologists Louis Aulbach and Linda Gorski have been piecing the history back together from archaeology work conducted in Memorial Park, postcards from soldiers and maps.

They will present this unique story of Houston history at the Houston Museum of Natural Science on November 4 at 6:30 p.m. This lecture is sponsored by the Houston Archeological Society. Following the lecture Aulbach and Gorski will sign copies of their newly published book “Camp Logan: Houston, Texas 1917-1919.”

This presentation will be a tribute to the soldiers who trained at Camp Logan—including nine Medal of Honor winners and seventy one African American soldiers who won the French Croix de Guerre. Visit www.hmns.org/lectures for more information. Advance tickets are available online and at 713.639.4629.

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Historians Linda Gorski and Louis Aulbach on Buffalo Bayou near Memorial Park.

Attention Movie Lovers: Now you too can spend a “Night at the Museum” with overnights at HMNS!

Editor’s note: This post was written by Julia Russell, HMNS Overnight Program Coordinator and Curator of Education Collections.

Movies have the power to entertain and transport us, and yes, maybe even teach us a thing or two. We laugh, we cry, we… go to museums?

Over the past decade, movies have increasingly inspired moviegoers to follow their intellectual curiosity out of the theater and into the museum. With the release of movies like Lincoln, National Treasure, Night at the Museum, and Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, museums across the country have seen a fairly dramatic increase in attendance over the past 10 years.

The Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois had a 7.7% increase in visitorship following the release of Spielberg’s Oscar-winning movie Lincoln. The National Archives saw an increase of 200,000 visitors after National Treasure hit theaters in 2004. Though, I would bet that a good number of those visitors were probably trying to get ahold of the Declaration of Independence. (There’s a treasure map on the back, you know! Or maybe there’s not…) The American Museum of Natural History in New York City had a 20% increase in attendance after the release of the first Night at the Museum movie in 2006 as did the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. after the second Museum movie came out in 2009.

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These movies have reignited an interest in history, science, and culture in the American public. They’ve also resulted in museum staff hearing questions like “Okay, so when does everything in this museum come to life?” on a daily basis. Audiences across the country are leaving movie theaters wanting to know more about the political savviness of Abraham Lincoln, the secrets of the Declaration of Independence, the ferocity of Tyrannosaurus rex, and the wisdom of Theodore Roosevelt. And where are they turning for the answers? Their local museums, historic houses, aquariums, and zoos! Zoos and aquariums certainly aren’t immune to the “movie bump” that’s happening across the country. Dolphin Tale increased visitorship to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium almost tenfold after its release in 2011!

Museum goers can satisfy their movie-induced curiosity by visiting a museum to see Lincoln’s original stovetop hat or dinosaur skeletons in the flesh…well, sort of, maybe it’s more like seeing dinosaurs in the fossil. These Hollywood blockbusters have also given museums a chance to provide some unique opportunities for their visitors. Many museums across the country are letting visitors get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of their institutions after hours. Lucky for you, HMNS is one of them

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The Overnight program at HMNS actually started back in 2004 even before Ben Stiller saw the treasures at the Museum of Natural History come to life for the first time. Since the start of this program, we’ve had thousands of children and adults spend a night at the museum. This program gives people an opportunity to see one of their favorite Houston landmarks in a new light (or in a new dark, actually)!

For more information about HMNS’ Overnight program and how you and your group can see HMNS after hours, click here or email overnights@hmns.org. Maybe you can spend a night at the museum and finally answer the question, “Does everything come to life at night?” You never know, our objects could speak to you in a whole new way.

Howdy, Y’all! Meet some cool critters in the new Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife

Looking for a fun way to explore the new Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife?! Check out our Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife Scavenger Hunt!

Whether you’re bringing students on a field trip or you’re just a kid at heart, visitors to the new hall will be astounded by the amazing natural diversity on display. With over 200 species on display and over 400 specimens, this is the most species-rich collection of Texas wildlife in the world!

Dan Brooks, HMNS Curator of Vertebrate Zoology in the new Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife.

Want to learn more about the Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife at HMNS?

Check out this video from My Fox Houston:

FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

 

 

 

Quick, To The Bat Cave: Four Reasons to Celebrate Bats This Week

This week is an important week for the winged mammals!

  1. The Rafinesque’s big-eared bat is making its debut in the new Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife at HMNS (Hint: you have to look up to find it)
  2. Houston’s Batgirl Dr. Cullen Geiselman is speaking at HMNS about what makes bats so important on October 27 (More info below.)
  3. Halloween is the battiest holiday around!
  4. An epic move to help conserve the world’s largest bat colony will also take place on October 31.

Over 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats make their summer home at the Bracken Cave outside of San Antonio—making Bracken Cave the largest concentration of mammals on Earth.

Bracken Cave Bat Emergence video: 

The City of San Antonio, Bat Conservation International (BatCon) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) partnered to protect the habitat Bracken’s bats have used for thousands of years from land developers. Read more about the conservation plan from the San Antonio News and BatCon.

Dr. Cullen Geiselman has studied various species of bats all over the world. She is Vice Chair of the BatCon board and a former staff member. To help celebrate these mosquito-eating machines, join us on Monday at HMNS for Dr. Geiselman’s bat talk.

Amy Bats

Bats: The Night Shift
Cullen Geiselman, Ph.D., Bat Conservation International
Houston Museum of Natural Science, Wortham Giant Screen Theatre
Monday, October 27, 6:30 p.m.

Bats have radiated into almost every habitat on Earth, bringing with them their important ecological responsibilities. Their great diversity of feeding strategies is a testament to the adaptability of these nocturnal animals and reveals their important roles they play within ecosystems. Bat researcher Dr. Cullen Geiselman will discuss the great variety of bats, including the 38 species in Texas of which eight call Houston home.

For more information and tickets, visit www.hmns.org/lectures.

This lecture is cosponsored by Rice University’s Glasscock School of Continuing Studies, and included in their course Biodiversity: A Wildlife and Ecosystem Necessity.

Learn more about Dr. Geiselman in “Adventures of Cullen Geiselman, Batgirl” by Lisa Gray, Houston Chronicle, July 26.