Renaissance Man Robert Runyon, Pioneer Aviator P.A. Newman, and Entrepreneurship in the Borderlands
By Doug Perkins
From La Rama Press
Journey's Reward Traces The Legacy of Innovation in South Texas and Northeast Mexico
Each year close to 400,000 ecotourists travel to the borderlands between Texas and Mexico to observe, conserve, and photograph the region's native plant life and the wildlife it supports.
Other visitors seek to monitor activities of modern entrepreneurs who test rocket technology on the border's coastline--including rocket ships that someday may transport humans to Mars.
The values that made possible this heritage of the borderlands' unique flora diversity and advanced space flight have their origins more than a century before with separate arrivals in Brownsville, Texas, of two individual entrepreneurs . Over the next six decades, these men took turns introducing science and technology innovations during a dynamic era marked by personal, political, and military turmoil.
Journey's Reward presents a fast-paced, captivating examination of these two men who lived entrepreneurial lives of risk and reward in the borderlands as masters of innovation.
producing his own line of postcards
earning fame as one of America's first war photojournalists
becaming recognized as a highly successful commercial/portrait photographer
identified more than two dozen rare plants
championed preservation of Texas' only native palm
saved from extinction Texas' rarest tree
spearheaded beautification efforts in borderlands' parks, resacas, and homes
built a world-renowned herbarium and botanical library.
the first motorized flight in the Southwest U.S.
architecture and construction of America's first monoplane
Kentucky native Robert Runyon became a self-taught creative master in photography soon after
Beginning in 1918, Runyon branched out into a new intellectual area and taught himself the science of botany. He set out to catalog all native flora in
Native Texan Prentice Alexander Newman on January 3, 1909, in San Antonio became the first person south of Kitty Hawk, NC,
arrriving in Brownsville. His accomplishments included:
the Texas-Mexico borderlands. Fifty years later, he had:
to fly a heavier-than-air machine. Three weeks later, he moved to the lower Rio Grande Valley, convinced a pool of Brownsville investors to finance his challenge to the Wright brothers, and proceeded to make aviation history during a year of intense personal turmoil. His borderlands' aviation accomplishments in 1909 included:
Photo Credits: Sabal texana photo by Robert Runyon; Runyon 1909 portrait by Charles Gilhousen, Echinocactus setispinus photo by Robert Runyon, all from Runyon Family Papers, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin; P.A. Newman portrait circa 1900, Lorraine Owens Family Papers; Newman aeroplane in flight photograph by Charles Gilhousen, 1909, The Brownsville Historical Association.
Although Newman and Runyon followed independent entrepreneurial paths, their careers merged briefly during the height of Mexican Revolution's entry in Tamaulipas.
Journey's Reward tells how the two innovators in November 1913 collaborated on a week-long entrepreneurial assignment during critical juncture of the Revolution.
On this dangerous journey, Runyon and Newman relied upon unique entrepreneurial skills to complete a battle-zone mission filled with danger.
Robert Runyon took this photograph of a Carrancista military convoy in November 1913 en route to the conflict near Ciudad Victoria. P.A. Newman, a driver on the trip, is in the front row, second from right. Photo credit: RUN00065, Robert Runyon Collection, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, The University of Texas at Austin.