a jet at 24,000 feet, Webb County looks like a patchwork of mesquite-covered squares,
rectangles and trapezoids, ranchland crisscrossed with unpaved roads of varying
quality called senderos.|
Some of these cuts - made for moving oilfield
equipment or for the benefit of deer hunters -- look like giant pale X's scratched
across the brush to passengers aboard the commercial flight approaching Laredo's
busy international airport. Other senderos extend from a central clearing like
spokes on a wagon wheel. Still others look like random hash marks across the face
of the land.
Though laid out in varying angles and with no discernible
pattern to their intersections or parallels, in some way, these senderos always
connect. Follow one and you always will find at least another road. So, too, is
there a sendero-like link between Toronto attorney David Fasken Sr.'s purchase
of 353 sections (a section is 640 acres) of land west of Midland
in 1913 and the building of a new high school in downtown Laredo
Almost 80 years later, those two disparate developments came
to connect in a venture that altered the urban landscape and social life of the
But that's getting ahead of the story.
acquired his vast holdings in West Texas
from the estate of Nelson Morris, a Chicago meat packing baron, for $325,000.
Proving the verity of the old "buy low, sell high" adage, the original owner had
paid the State of Texas $113,000 for the land in 1883.
on his new property, the Canadian attorney created a company called the Midland
Farms Co. As the name of his company suggests, Fasken intended to sell the land
in small parcels to farmers. However, he soon realized West
Texas wasn't quite the Garden of Eden. Like his more savvy neighbors, he turned
to cattle raising on what by then was called the C Ranch.
in 1929, just as the nation was entering what came to be known as the Great Depression.
To pay the estate taxes, his heirs had to sell 90 sections of their land in 1932.
They lopped the property in half, leaving a large "fairway" down the better while
disposing of the flanks.
Not long after that, new owner Joe Mabee brought
in an oil field on one portion of the former Fasken land. Then the North Cowden
field and Humble pool came in to the west and north, respectively, and the Fasken
family decided it was time to explore what was left of their own land.
The Midland Farms Field developed in 1944 and the family started making a lot
more money in oil than they ever did in farming or cattle.
companies started eyeing Webb County, the Fasken family bought land there and
enjoyed further success in the energy business.
Fasken, the ranking family member following the death of David Fasken Jr., spent
a lot of time in Laredo.
She lived downtown, just across from San Agustine Plaza, in an old house that
once had been home to the city's first telephone exchange.
liked Laredo, but
she didn't like that her friends and those who came to Laredo
to do business with her family company did not have a first-class hotel to stay
She was delighted when the old Laredo High School was transformed
in 1961 into the La Posada Hotel. Eventually, the Fasken family bought the historic
property, the city's only remaining downtown hotel.
week, Laredo city
officials and other VIPs cut the ribbon marking the completion of a $14 million
renovation to the 208-room hotel, which sits on the foundation of a government
building dating to Spanish colonial times. In addition to the old high school,
the hotel incorporates another structure that had been a convent.|
"This investment in the hotel reflects our belief in the community and continued
prosperity of Laredo,"
said Norbert Dickman, general manager and since 1982 a co-trustee of the Fasken
estate, now known as Fasken Oil and Ranch, Ltd. "Barbara Fasken, who was instrumental
in buying La Posada, loved Laredo
and spent a lot of her time her. Her legacy is making a large and lasting impact
on the city's hospitality industry and commercial and residential development."
hotel also plays an important part in the city's cultural life, from spicing up
its history with a ghost story (a restless Nun supposedly haunts the historic
hostelry) to hosting weddings, quinceaneras and most of the events associated
with the annual George Washington's Birthday celebration, an event begun in 1898.
Roberto Garcia Junior's 1990 statue of George Washington
| La Posada is also
one of the few hotels anywhere in the nation with two built-in museums. One, dedicated
to the annual February birthday bash for the father of our country, has a collection
of the ornate 100-pound gowns worn by various "Martha Washingtons" as well as
the long coats and knee pants worn by generations of "George Washingtons."|
The other museum, located in an 1830s-vintage structure that once served
as the capital of the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande, features exhibits
and artifacts related to the 250-plus-year history of Laredo.
© Mike Cox
November 16, 2006 column
with a Past |
| Columns | Texas
Towns | Texas
Posada Hotel > Book Here
Books by Mike Cox - Order Now|
|Book Hotel Here