History Old, History New

By Jimmy (March 4, 2018)

While at Gun Barrel City, we did get a day of sunshine (Feb 25) that allowed us the ability to take a trip. Angela and I decided to travel to Waco as there were a couple of historical sites of interest to visit.

History Old – The first site we went to visit was the Waco Mammoth National Monument. Back in the 70s two guys were looking for arrowheads and found what turned out to be a mammoth femur. Archeologists have been exploring this site ever since. To date, they have found 24 Columbian mammoths, a sabertooth cat, a camel, and other small animals. It is the biggest mammoth herd, and first nursery herd, ever found. Most likely, the herd was killed by a single event, which the scientists think was probably a flash flood.

Angela and I started at the Welcome Center, where I got my National Park stamp. Then, we walked to the Mammoth Site, led by a young lady who was taking only her second group on her own. She did an excellent job. In the Mammoth building we were able to see the dig site. Digs were continuing but were on and off due to budget. The following are some pictures of the tour. Angela asked about the camel. We learned that camels began in the Americas. It seems that the camel was used by the mammoths as a guard dog. The mammoths could not see very well, and the camel would freak in time of danger. That would alert the mammoths. In turn, the mammoths offered camels protection. We wondered if they ever found any written contract.

Our Tour Group

Tour guide on the right; dig site building behind

Inside Dig Site; actual size of a Columbian Mammoth

Dig site, just below picture of actual size Mammoth

Replica of bone found in 1972; kids doing their Jr. Park Ranger books

History New – After leaving the Mammoth Site, we headed to the site of the Branch Davidian Compound. When we arrived, we were met at the gate by Alexa, a Branch Davidian. She said we could go see the site, but they didn’t want cars back there because it was muddy, and they didn’t want the roads messed up.

Entrance Sign

Me and Ms. Alexa

There was a monument identifying the 82 members who died (including 23 children). We knew it was nearly 25 years since it happened, but when we got there, we realized that we were 3 days shy of the 25th anniversary of the initial ATF encounter (where 4 ATF agents were killed) and FBI 51-day siege. If you are not familiar with the David Koresh story, there is a documentary that has just come out on Netflix that covers the events.

Monument for the dead Branch Davidian in the 1993 encounter.

Currently, a small Branch Davidian Church sits on part of where the compound was. Angela and I found out that the Branch Davidian Church is an off shoot of the Seventh Day Adventists. We had always thought that the church was made up in David Koresh’s mind. This is why we love to go to historical sites; we learn details that we didn’t know before.

Church that currently sits on the compound Site

Map of the compound the current church sits where the two double doors and chapel were

The compound had burned to the ground and all of the debris had been bulldozed long ago, but a lot of the foundation still remained. As I walked around the grounds, I remembered that I watched the tanks hitting the walls and the fire starting while I was working at Southeast Missouri Hospital. It was a memory unique to me, but standing at the site gave me a better understanding of what I was seeing then and the history that happened there.

Foundation of part of the compound.

Whether it’s a site where 24 mammoths died or a site of a human confrontation resulting in nearly 100 deaths, it’s history. Prehistoric or contemporary, good or bad, uplifting or disturbing –  it’s the American experience. Let’s never forget our history.

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