History

Old Rip: Did This Texas Horned Toad Survive 31 Years In a Time Capsule?

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Texas history is full of legends. Naturally, there’s Stephen F. Austin (the veritable “Father of Texas”), Davy Crockett, and the other fierce defenders of the Alamo; as well as various and sundry other important pillars of our rich culture and heritage. However, one legend that many don’t know about is Old Rip, a Texas horned toad who was entombed in a cornerstone of the Eastland, Texas, courthouse in 1897, and who allegedly appeared unscathed (and very much alive) when the cornerstone was opened again in 1928. That’s 31 years without food, water, or air, if you’re following along at home.

Horned Toad Tall Tale or Truth?

Old Rip

Photo: Facebook/Russ Ezell

This possible tall tale, which many believe to be true, begins during the construction of the Eastland courthouse in 1897. Four-year-old Will Wood captured an unassuming horned toad and named him “Blinky.” Wood’s father thought it would be fun to conduct an experiment on the horned toad to test the widely-held theory that horned toads (which are actually lizards) can hibernate for 100 years. So, poor Blinky was sealed up, along with other time capsule items in the courthouse’s structure.

Blinky, the horned toad, was promptly forgotten until the demolition of the courthouse began in 1928. Three thousand people gathered to watch the re-opening of the cornerstone, perhaps in the hopes of seeing what 31 years of entombment might do to a horned toad. Well, you can imagine the shock and awe the people of Eastland felt when the 31-year-old horned toad, crouching flat and covered in a thick layer of dust, emerged alive!

R.I.P, Rip

Old Rip

Photo: flickr/QuesterMark

Blinky was abruptly re-named “Old Rip,” after the legendary character, Rip Van Winkle, (who famously took a 20-year nap). Old Rip became a national sensation after his resurrection. He was escorted around the country on tour and even traveled to Washington D.C. to visit President Calvin Coolidge. Sadly, in 1929, 11 months after resurfacing, Old Rip died of pneumonia. However, if you’re thinking that this is where Old Rip’s story, ends, you would be wrong.

The Plot Thickens…

Old Rip
Photo: Facebook/Kelsie Jackson

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