As we continue our travels through Texas, we stopped in at the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park sites. Yes, sites. We started off at the Visitors Center in Johnson City.
Somewhat similar to Hot Springs, in that there is more than one part of the park, this particular visitors center has a small gallery of information on the former president and his wife, Lady Bird. They each have their own videos that explain the different good works they did during their time in the White House and beyond.
He pushed through a lot of wonderful things while he was President, including Medicare and Medicaid and numerous National Parks, monuments and historic areas. But, he also was in the White House during the Vietnam War.
From there, we drove 14 miles down the road to the LBJ Ranch District. This is where the Texas White House is located. In 1952, LBJ bought the house and land where his aunt used to live and had it remodeled and expanded.
He had grown up in a dog trot cabin down the road, living just on the edge of poverty, while his father worked for the State of Texas. In his early 20’s, he moved to Washington, DC to work for a Senator as an aide, when he met and a short while later, married, Lady Bird. While still just a State Representative, he purchased the house for $10 and the 250 acres accompanying it for $20,000, with a stipend so that his aunt could live in town. The house was run down when purchased, but Lady Bird brought in an architect from Austin to turn it in to the showcase it became. He even put in an airstrip so that when he wanted to escape D.C., he could fly directly home.
The house overlooks the Pedernales River and is surrounded by live oaks.
Two live oaks in the front yard of the Texas White House were recently found to have root rot, due to the St. Augustine grass that had been put in to keep the lawn green and beautiful. The NPS has taken out the grass, treated the roots, put down mulch and fertilizer and are working hard to bring them back from the brink. These two trees saw history in the making as LBJ and his contemporaries sat under them, discussing such things as the Tet Offensive.
Now, the ranch wasn’t just a nice place to visit. It was and is a working ranch. There is a herd of bison in one part of the ranch.
There are also numerous head of Hereford cattle roaming the fields, many of which are descendants of the original cattle that LBJ ranched.
There are more than just the domesticated animals roaming the fields as well.
It was a beautiful drive and politics aside, its an interesting glimpse into the man who was the 36th President of the United States of America.