South by Southwest: A Tour of Plantations and Ranches of the Columbia Bottoms
This day trip will explore the historic landscapes of the sugar plantation and cattle ranching country of the lower Brazos and Colorado rivers, southwest of Houston. Before the Civil War, this area was the epicenter of plantation agriculture in Texas, with African-American slave labor an essential component. After the Civil War, the economy shifted toward cattle, and huge ranching empires were amassed.
Archaeologists Kenneth Brown and Carol McDavid of the University of Houston will tell us about social, economic, and racial aspects of the region’s history; and architectural historian Stephen Fox will comment on the historic buildings found in rural sites and also in such towns as Columbia, Matagorda,Wharton and Egypt.
We will visit the Levi Jordan Plantation headquarters, recently acquired by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and other privately owned historic ranch and plantation homes. Lunch will be a catered outdoor picnic at the Shanghai Pierce Ranch.