Static: Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Big Bang Theory

A hundred years ago, it wasn’t unusual for cowboys, boozers, and gamblers to yank pistols out of their holsters and start blasting away in the Stockyards. Gunpowder and bullets were part of that rowdy district’s heritage. Cannons, on the other hand, probably belonged a few miles south, up on the bluff where the “fort” in Fort Worth once stood. Still, it’s not so much of a stretch to provide a home in one of Cowtown’s most historic districts for a couple of historic artillery pieces. Both are Spanish-made, from around the early 1800s, and salvaged from the bed of the San Antonio River in 1939. While nobody can say for sure that the cannons were used during a certain historic battle, “one could think that, since they were found in the river next to the Alamo,” Fort Worth historian Clara Ruddell said.
Historians note that Santa Anna commanded his army to destroy all cannons being left behind after the battle at the Alamo so that they couldn’t be used against him in future battles. The Mexican army spiked the cannons by jamming oversized balls into their barrels, then chucked them into the river.
Shortly after these two cannons were retrieved from the river, they were sold to a San Antonio scrap iron business, which in turn sold them to W.O. Clark, an Alamo buff who now lives in Dallas. After persistent pressure from Ruddell, the cannons’ owner recently agreed to let them be permanently displayed at the Cowtown Coliseum’s front entrance. For now, they are lying in storage behind the rodeo arena while concrete bases are being prepared.
The person hired to build the bases called Stockyards property owner Steve Murrin recently to ask how much the artillery pieces weighed. Murrin said he’d find out and call him back.
“I tried to pick up one end of a cannon and reported back to him, ‘They are heavier than hell,’ ” he said. (Real answer: They weigh about 700 pounds each.)
The cannons will be unveiled on Dec. 19.
Keeping It Public
Bob Mhoon has given a whole new meaning to the term “citizen watchdog.” The Arlington resident, part-time professor, and retired U.S. Navy officer has doggedly pursued the facts surrounding the ongoing drama of the Tarrant County College District’s four-year failed attempt to build a downtown campus. Now, Mhoon has not one but two web pages dedicated to his quest to hold accountable those who are responsible for the humongous riverside boondoggle.
To read what this modern day tilter-at-windmills has discovered through his relentless requests for public documents, go to his web page,, or his blog, Using official e-mails and other public materials, Mhoon lays out a roadmap of four years of incompetence, mismanagement, and arrogance that have cost the taxpayers nearly half a billion dollars, with nary a classroom door yet open. As he explains in a letter to the editor (page 6), he also has a petition drive going to get the guv to hold TCCD’s feet to the fire. Check it out.

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