Sunday, November 27, 2011

Texas Cannon Rolling Thunder Rolls On With New Wheels

On November 12, Rolling Thunder, the cannon of the Lone Star Volunteers, came home with a new set of wheels.  The Lone Star Volunteers attend Texas historic events all over the State of Texas demonstrating Rolling Thunder.  Rolling Thunder is a three-quarter scale replica of an 1841 Mississippi field cannon and is similar in size to the 6 pound Twin Sisters cannons used by the Texians to win their independence from Mexico in the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.  As you can see in the photograph above, Rolling Thunder is a real firing cannon.  The picture above is a picture of Rolling Thunder taken at the Texian Navy Day Celebration held at the Battleship Texas in the San Jacinto State Park near LaPorte on September 17, 2011.

It looks scary since that is about 2500 degrees of fire coming out of the end of the barrel and also the primer hole at the rear. That is the reason all the gun crew members are wearing heavy gloves and ear protection. On this occasion, the Lone Star Volunteers were firing directly into the wind and the burnt powder was blown back on them. That is one of the reasons the gun crew wears the red shirts made of 100% wool, which is a requirement for outerwear for this type of gun handling. Their ever-ready water bucket is in front, and they were joined by four other cannons from the Texas Army.

Recently the Lone Star Volunteers discovered that Rolling Thunder's 160 year-old wagon wheels were coming apart at the seams from the dryness of our recent Texas drought and the summer heat. It was customary during the Revolutionary and Civil War eras to pull the cannons down into a creek to let the water soak into the hubs and spokes of the wheels, so the cracks in the wood would swell and close up.

Rolling Thunder was machined from a solid billet of steel about 25 years ago by a local oil field worker as a hobby project, and the wood carriage that supports it was handmade to fit. Rolling Thunder's wheels came from a 160 year old wagon.  Rolling Thunder It has been hauled around, fired and shown off all around Texas making appearances in many places. When they discovered there might be a problem with the 160 year old antique wheels, they asked a wagon manufacturer to take a look to see what could be done to repair them. It was decided that the wheels had deteriorated too far for repairs, and the decision was made to have new wheels made. It took three months to have the new wheels made from scratch. Yes, The wheels were made in Texas.

However, 2011 is the 175th anniversary of Texas independence from Mexico, and the whole time the wheels were being fabricated, the Lone Star Volunteers were still taking Rolling Thunder to historical events all over Texas, firing it and showing it…but being very careful whenever they had to move it. But they never held back. The only time they had to draw the line was when it was suggested that they put Rolling Thunder on the bow of the Battleship Texas using a helicopter since there is no passageway wide enough to allow for it to roll onto the Battleship Texas. Consequently they fired salutes to the Texian Navy beside the bow as shown in the picture above.

New Wheels on Rolling Thunder Cannon (Click to Enlarge)
 On Saturday, November 19, Rolling Thunder showed off its new wheels at the Tomball Holiday Parade in Tomball, Texas.  The cannon has been attending this parade for 11 years…it hasn’t missed one yet and doesn’t plan to miss one in the future. May Rolling Thunder roll on for another 160 years on her new wheels and continue to preserve Texas history.

New Wheels on Rolling Thunder Cannon (Click to Enlarge)

Article and photographs courtesy of Fred Mead.

1 comment:

Robert Langham said...

Where is Rolling Thunder based and how do you contact them?