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  • The AlamoThe Alamo San Antonio, Texas
    The Alamo, remember the Alamo, it was originally called Mission San Antonio de Valero, and was at one time a Roman Catholic mission, then a fortress compound and finally, aptly, it is a museum; in San Antonio, Texas. The compound was constructed by the Spanish empire in the 18th century to educate the local Native Americans, after they became Christians. It was just a sanctuary and outer buildings, and in 1793, it was secularized and abandoned. In 1803, it became a fortress for the Second Flying Company of San Carlos de Parras, a Mexican army group, and most likely the ones that gave the fort the name of Alamo. The Mexicans occupied the fort until December, 1835, when it was surrendered to the Texian army after the siege of Bexar. It then became occupied by a small group of Texian soldiers, when General Sam Houston ordered Colonel James Bowie to destroy the fortress since he knew that he didn't have enough troops to hold it in case of attack. Bowie decided not to listen to Houston, and began working with Colonel James C. Neill to fortify the compound. Then, in February, on the 23rd day, General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna brought a large army into San Antonio de Bexar and began a siege, which ended on March 6, after numerous attacks against the fort, it finally fell by sheer numbers of soldiers, with almost every defender killed. When this army left the territory, when the Texas Revolution was won for the Texians, these cowardly people tore down many of the walls of the Alamo and burned buildings. During the following five years, the Alamo was used to house soldiers, both Texian and Mexican, but eventually abandoned. Some years after Texas was annexed into the United States, in 1849, the US army rented the remnants to house a quartermaster's depot. In 1876, when Fort Sam Houston had been built nearby, it was finally abandoned, with the chapel being sold to the state, allowing tours, but not bothering to do any repairs. Those buildings that were in decent shape were rented out to a mercantile company that used them for wholesale groceries. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas was started in 1892, and started trying to save the Alamo. Adina de Zavala and Clara Driscoll were able to convince the legislature to let the DRT buy the remaining buildings and make the DRT the custodians of the site, in 1905. Over the following six years, these two women argued about the best way to restore the compound, and after a court battle between the two DRT factions, Governor Oscar B. Colquitt put the Alamo under state control and started restoring it in 1912; and then given back to the DRT later in the year. In 1988 and again in 1994, the legislature tried to regain control of the compound to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, but couldn't since then Governor George W. Bush said he would veto any bill that took the control from the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, DRT.

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  • Natural Bridge CavernsNatural Bridge Caverns San Antonio, Texas
    The natural bridge caverns are the biggest commercial caves in the state of Texas, with the name coming from the 65 foot natural limestone slab bridge that crosses the amphitheater type setting that is located at the front of the entrance. The bridge was what was left after a sinkhole collapsed below it. These beautiful caverns showcase numerous special speleothems and other fantastic geological formations, with a constant 70 degree temperature and the deepest area is 211 feet down. These caves are still actively growing as the water continues to flow and drip all through the caverns which have created a waxy luster that isn't seen in caves usually. They were found in 1960, when four students attending St. Mary's University in nearby San Antonio, discovered the main passageway into the caverns. On their first trip inside, the men were able to go about a mile, and after more trips to the caves, they found a 2 miles stretch that was to become known as the North Cavern. Orion Knox Jr. one of the four that found the caverns helped the owners to get information and suggestions to develop the caverns. Mrs. Clara Wuest owned the caverns and wanted to show the world her cave, so Orion went to the National Park Service and the Texas Park System in hopes of getting funds to help with the development, but neither could help. Clara thought that she could and would raise the money herself and develop it. Orion decided to drop out of college and help. He went to Jack Burch, who had recently finished opening the Caverns of Sonora, in Sonora, Texas, to see if he would be interested in helping, which he would. They began the development in early 1963, with Mrs. Wuest-Heideman, who had just remarried Harry Heidemann, a retired Texas Highway Patrolman, Jack Burch, Orion, Harry and Reggie Wuest, Clara's son. When they started clearing the front entrance, they found arrowheads and spearheads that dated back to 5000 BC. and the jawbone and femur of a black bear species that became extinct over 8000 years ago. They put in lights and trails, continuing to work until it opened for tours on July 3, 1964; running continuously ever since, with the family still operating and owning it.

January 11, 2011