Sunday, April 18, 2010

When Cotton Was KING

This past weekend was a trip to central Texas for The Cotton Gin Festival in Burton, TX. Above is a picture of the old Gin today. We originally found this last summer when our friends from France were with us. When Pierre requested a tour I inwardly groaned & thought "oh great". I planned to sit in the car & read a magazine. But, we were a tad late & the 10 AM tour had started so we went to eat lunch. At 2 PM it was too hot to sit in the car so I went on the tour. IT WAS SOOOOOOOOOOOO INTERESTING! We found out that there would be a festival on April 17th where they would actually bail ONE bail of cotton from this old gin. Hubby HAD to be there & we made our plans & off we went to enjoy all the fun.
This is an old wagon that is loaded with cotton straight from the field. The brown pipe is a vacuum that would suck the cotton up into the gin above to start being processed. Cotton grows in the HEAT of the Texas summer. It is a HARD way to make a living. Texas still is the biggest producer of cotton in the United States although this area of Texas no longer produces any (the land has become very valuable cattle farming land).
This was the BIG DRAW for my hubby. The Bessemer Engine that runs this whole operation. The Cotton Gin was a Co-Op Gin & everyone owned a share in the gin (no one could own any more than one share keeping it owned equally by all). When they bought this HUGE engine they used man & horse power to drag it into place (using huge pieces of wood to wedge & shim it into place). Now they only fire this beast up once a year... for The Festival.
The huge pulley that ran the power to the shaft above. HUGE & POWERFUL! You had to be impressed when you stop & think of the time this was made.
Here the guys are letting the engine warm up. See the two pipes with fire shooting out to warm the metal before "firing" it up. Once they got that big beast going it pumped & whirled those belts & pulleys. She sang the most beautiful purring song. Much like the sound of an old treadle sewing machine(louder of course but, for the size it really was not as loud as I thought it would be). And the exhaust was pumped UNDERGROUND about 25 yards outside of the building & bellowed out of these two pipes with the funniest POP POP POP sound.
Below is a 1936 truck that was driven by The Gin manager. They just refinished this little jewel. It had been stored in an old shed for years waiting for the money & to find someone that COULD do the work. After thousands of dollars a 1938 engine was installed & it has been overhauled into wonderful condition. This truck would haul the seed that was recovered from the mill into the closest large town which happened to be Brenham, TX (home of Bluebell Ice Cream).
You can see two big bales of cotton put into the back of the old wooden bed of this truck.
Below you can see another shot of The Gin with a lot of folks sitting on the side of the gentle hill waiting for the Tractor PULL to begin. That was a first for me. Actually, it was pretty interesting for awhile and then, it was time for a Burton Sausage on a Stick & a COLD beer.
Here is a couple of shots of what was below the hill side... some cars (some new but decorated & some vintage) that had been in the parade down Main Street.
And some of the vintage tractors. In the far distance you can see the track where they had the TRACTOR PULL & some of the tractors (or some similar to those in the pull).
Now, I know this is not very girly... but, it was interesting. And you know sometimes we girls have to go with our guys to things that interest them (remember I leave next week for YET ANOTHER ART EVENT while he stays here to keep the home fires burning so, it was time for an event he wanted) But, have faith... I took some photos of things that I think some of you girls will like from this Cotton Theme. Stay tuned & come back soon to see what I found interesting from this era for us. Until then... HUGS!


Inspired-Simplicity said...

Thanks for the great tour. I really enjoyed it.I have been out of town for 3 days. It's good to be back home checking out my blog friends.

Anonymous said...

Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it....................................................... said...

I think that looks like a blast Charlene.
I'm a real US History buff tho. I love any kind of museum or old Fort. I think it's cool that you guys still enjoying being together so much. And yeah, ya do gotta pay the piper sometimes lol!
PS I got my dates mixed up as you've already figured out.

Julie said...

How fascinating, Charlene! Don't you just love surprises like that...something you think you'll have no interest in that completely grabs you?! Thanks for sharing that bit of living history today! (I'm a historian at heart, so I loved it!)

Hope you're having a wonderful day, my friend--enjoy every second!

Nan said...

Well that's a first for me I've never seen a cotton gin, very interesting I need to show Bob this post.

Rose H (UK) said...

What a facinating post Charlene. We often take the things we wear for granted without thinking of their history. I'll certainly look at cotton in a different way/
Thank you for leaving such sweet comments on my blog.

Sandy said...

Wow, Charlene - I just got caught up on your beautiful blog!

I really loved the cotton gin tour, and the necklace you're making is to die for!

Congrats on having such a pretty Lady Banks rose in bloom - I've only ever seen it in pictures!


Sandy @ My Shabby Streamside Studio

Ingrid DeVilliers said...

Thank you for all the interesting info...... What a lovely post!

Kim-Fille de Fleur said...

Hi Charlene, I am so sad that you will not be able to come to Glitterfest! I would have loved to have met you! I am sure that you will have lots of fun at your event however and I will look forward to lots of pictures.

No I am not ready for the show, but I am trying to get there. I have been preparing and have lots of display ideas but I need to finish many more Fleurs and I want to add some feathers for some of the younger crowd. They seem to love em!
Thanks for the visit I love hearing from you and finding out all you are up to!

Heidi Meyer said...

Hi sweet friend! So neat that you are headed to the former cotton brokerage town. Your cotton tour will be full circle! See you soon ~ Heidi

Lisa said...

Really cool! I love visiting places like this. It is nice to know where we can from.
Big Hugs!

cindy said...

I find all of the Cotton Gin history so fascinating because it did play such a huge part in many of our Texas towns (like 'Hachie too). Glad it turned out to be a great day for you, looks like it was fun!


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