Ruins in the Park

The search for remnants of Houston's past

SPACED CITY

Ruins in Memorial Park
Searchers hunt for remains of Camp Logan

By Brittanie Shey

A hidden part of Houston history resides in the underbrush at Memorial Park, and every year a group of amateur urban archeologists sets out to see as much of it as they can find. Recently the group, led by Louis Aulbach, found the foundation of latrines and bathhouses built in 1917 for the 130th Infantry at Camp Logan, the World War I-era Army training facility after which Memorial Park is named.

Aulbach is a publisher of Texas River Guides and has a personal Web site that's an excellent resource for stories about Houston's history. The group was joined by Aulbach's writing and research consultant Linda Gorski and J.R. Gonzales, who writes the Houston Chronicle blog Bayou City History, plus a handful of history buffs.

Finding remnants of Camp Logan is not hard, thanks to a map drawn by Paul B. Hendrickson, a soldier stationed there whose extensive letters home shed light on life at the camp.

The railroad line just west of Memorial Park was completed in 1885 and shows up on Hendrickson's map. By lining his drawing up with modern maps of the area using the railroad as a guide, researchers have been able to find exactly where parts of the camp once stood. Ruins also exist on the south side of Memorial Drive.

Aulbach has led a group into the park's brush pretty much every year for the last five or six. Late winter is the perfect time, he said, because the usually thick undergrowth is dead and the weather is the right temperature. Last week's trek was fruitful. Among the ruins seen by the group were foundations and drains from latrines and bathhouses, including ceramic piping, as well as four outdoor ovens used to bake bread and other foods.

"I can't tell you how many times I've been out here and haven't found anything," he said.

There has been talk of the Memorial Park Arboretum cleaning up the area and turning it into an interpretive walk with informational signs detailing the history of the park and camp, which was the site of one of Houston's worst race riots during its construction and the location of a deadly Spanish flu outbreak in 1918. It's a project Aulbach supports, if it ever gets off the ground.

"You can't really do history until you get out and see it," he said.
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POLITICAL ANIMALS

Houston's Biggest Delinquents: An Appraisal

By Richard Connelly

Mayor Annise Parker has announced a coming crackdown on the almost $1 billion in fees and fines owed to the City of Houston by various business entities and people.

So pay up if you owe. They're talking about suing, slapping boots on cars, etc.

The city also released a list of the major delinquents in various categories. Among the things we learned:

5. No rental-car driver gives a shit about red-light cameras

Among the owners of cars with the biggest backlog of red-light camera fines: Hertz, Enterprise, Alamo and PV Holding. Also Lashonda Pierce.

4. "Xzvier Conley"

This one worries us. Because our name is Richard Francis Xavier Connelly, and no one ever spells "Connelly" correctly (to be fair, they do usually ace the "Xavier" part), and we have a teenaged son whose nuanced understanding of parking regulations doesn't always comport with The Man's. Still, we'd be hard-pressed to see him coming up with $11,115 in tickets and fines in only a couple years of driving. Right? Right?

3. Wu Shu Kung Fu Federation

They owe $5,625 in past-due rent for convention facilities, the city says. You wanna go get it from them? Didn't think so.

2. The Houston Symphony Society

The Houston Symphony Society, on the other hand, owes $4,961 in the same type of fees. Surely you can intimidate those dudes.

1. Parking: What Brown Can't Do for You

UPS has almost a thousand parking citations totaling almost $120,000. FedEx? A measly 267 for $22,000. Whether FedEx is more conscientious about parking — or paying its tickets — is difficult to determine. Of course, $22K is still a pretty impressive total.
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DOING IT DAILY

There’s tons of stuff each day on the Houston Press blogs; you’re only getting a taste of it here in the print edition. Head to blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs (or “/rocks” or “/eating” or “/artattack”).

Political Animals

As Texas Southern University began a yearlong 75th birthday celebration of its most famous alumna, we provided five video clips showing Barbara Jordan's political (and entertainment) career. http://blogs.houstonpress.com/hairballs/2011/02/chris_baker_ksev.php>Obnoxious blowhard Chris Baker is returning to the Houston airwaves, ready to preach to the tiny but fanatical right-wing choir at KSEV. State Rep Leo Berman took time off from his fight for a birther bill to sponsor a rally on the capitol steps calling for Texas to secede from the Union. And with Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords's recovery proceeding nicely through the use of singing, we offered a critique of her setlist.

Spaced City

Two years later, a Houstonian is still trying to sell Hitler's desk. Rhode Island wants to build a Medical Center like ours, whether or not that will leave enough room in the state for anything else being an open question. Metro CEO George Greanias says he's out to persuade people that the agency is neither "evil" nor "stupid," which is a start, we guess. And Houston will be among the leading early adopters, sort of, of plug-in electric vehicles.

Whatever

With the coming introduction of Call to Juarez: The Cartel, we came up with five video games that would be even more tasteless. For North Korea dictator Kim Jung-Il's birthday, we offered a selection of the ten best photographs of him looking at something. And for YouTube's sixth anniversary, we examined just what people were posting to entertain the World Wide Web way back in 2005.

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