Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Legend of Old Rip

For a small Texas town, Eastland sure has its share of shenanigans.  If you're not familiar with Eastland, it's along I-20 about halfway between Fort Worth and Abilene.

 

A little background info from a helpful historical marker:

     "County seat, Eastland County. Named for William M. Eastland--Texas War for Independence hero who was in Mier Expedition against Mexico, and was executed in "Black Bean" lottery at Rancho Salado in 1842.
      Most noted early local people were Comanches, who resisted occupation of area by white settlers. The last recorded Indian raid in county was in 1874.
Eastland was named county seat in an election on Aug. 2, 1875. With 250 people it was incorporated on June 6, 1891, and W.Q. Connellee was elected as mayor.
      After a discovery in 1917, one of the fabled oil booms of Texas occurred nearby, with Eastland center for legal matters. With oil priced $2.60 a barrel, many wells flowed at 10,000 barrels a day. The city quickly grew to 25,000 people; 5 banks prospered.
      Coming here to seek "black gold" were celebrities, including evangelist Billy Sunday, circus owner John Ringling, sports figures Jess Willard, Tex Rickard.
      An international wonder-story happened here: the old courthouse cornerstone was opened (on this site) in 1928 to reveal survival of "Old Rip", a horned toad placed there with other mementoes on July 19, 1897.
      Continuing oil production, agricultural processing and clay products bolster the present economy. "

You may have noted the bold part of the text which mentions "Old Rip" the world famous horny toad.  His story is a true Texas tall tale.


Yes, Old Rip was quite the celebrity during his life but his fame continued after his death.  Like any Texas icon his final resting place is constantly visited by people from all over the world who want to pay their respects.  His coffin resides in the Eastland County Courthouse:


His unique story caught the attention of the folks at Ripley's Believe it of Not and Old Rip made it into the comic strip:


And the TV show (yes, that's Jack Palance in front of the steps of the Eastland County Courthouse):


The story also captured the imagination of Warner Brothers animation and they created the famous animated short "One Froggy Evening" which was loosely based on Old Rip's story:


About ten years ago we shot a we shot a documentary about the life and times of Old Rip.  It had a decent run at film festivals and now we've posted it online, in it's entirety, for the first time ever!  So sit back and enjoy the Legend of Old Rip:



Eastland's other claim to fame like the 6-ft. x 10-ft. mural made from over 11,000 stamps at the post office.  Sure it lives in Old Rip's shadow but it's still worth a mention (and a visit if you're in town):
 

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