Hidden Treasures of the Trinity
The story of the Trinity River is well-known to many Texans, but there are stories that are yet to be told. Angela Kilpatrick, manager of watershed science and grants, knows the river backward and forward. In her 19 years with the Trinity River Authority, she has explored the river countless times, yet she continues to uncover objects in and along the river that teach her something new about the life that exists around it.
Kilpatrick has been collecting unique items that she finds since she began her career in 1999. It wasn’t until 2016 that she figured out what to do with her treasures.
The idea of making a mobile struck when she unearthed a Mason sewing machine leg. She found the antique item in the Clear Fork of the Trinity River near Aledo in 2014. “I was going to do something for my husband with it because he is a Mason but then I was looking at it one day and thought it would make a great base for a mobile,” commented Kilpatrick.
Several hagstones, bottles, keys and pieces of colored glass hang from the mobile, making it sound much like a wind chime.
Hagstones, which she collects from Village Creek, are rocks with holes that some believe are magical.
“Some get holes because of water dripping on them, but a lot of times there is a type of clam or mussel that backs its way into the rock and will eventually dig a hole completely through the rock,” said Kilpatrick. “There is a whole lore behind hagstones; some believe if you look through the hole you can see another world.”
Her favorite item hangs near the bottom of the nearly
three-foot-long mobile. Found in October 2017 in the middle Trinity around Oakwood, the Hutchinson bottle is in pristine condition and still clearly reads “A.C. Woodyard. Hearne, Texas.” The bottle has a rubber stopper still lodged in the top and would have likely been used for carbonated drinks or mineral water.
“I think it dates back anywhere from 1890 to 1920,” stated Kilpatrick.
She has even reached out to the Hearne Chamber of Commerce and Hearne City Council to learn more about the bottle but to no avail.
Kilpatrick continues to collect artifacts, providing her with a growing and diverse collection. However, the current mobile is getting heavy, so she is on the hunt for a base to begin a new one.
These little hidden treasures of the Trinity River tell a story that goes beyond its banks. With each new discovery a new narrative unfolds, and the river’s history comes to life.