Historic Images from the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas

The photo archive of historic images from the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas  (NFGT) has been digitized, and the images are available for download under a Creative Commons License in ScholarWorks – https://scholarworks.sfasu.edu/nfgt_general/

Using modern tools, a composite image of the grounds where the current NFGT Supervisor’s Office resides was assembled, providing a view of that landscape from 1938 (below and header). By using the embedded Google Map, and clicking on show satellite imagery at the bottom left of that map, you can see just how much this site has changed through the years.


There are some important images associated with regional history that are included in the gallery. A great example of this an image of the El Camino Real that passed through the Sabine National Forest (click on the images below to learn more, including the option to download them at multiple resolutions).


El Camino Real – Sabine National Forest.
Photographer: Unknown

Another important moment in history for the NFGT was the introduction of prescribed burns. There are a few great images of prescribed fires included in the gallery; however, it appears that they may have a photograph of the first prescribed fire on the Angelina National Forest, along with some of the Civilian Conservation Corps volunteers who were learning how to conduct the burns.

Controlled burn – Fire #1 – Angelina National Forest.
Photographer: Erwin A. Heers
Hose Fire CCC – Angelina National Forest.
Photographer: Unknown

Another noteworthy image is of the first house that was built in Shelby County, Texas. There are several other images of local architecture that are included in the gallery, to include the interior of the first Protestant Church in East Texas, examples of special use cabins, and some images of the Aldridge Saw Mill ruins in 1935.

The first house to be built in Shelby County, Texas – Built about 150 years ago [before the image was taken in 1938]. Photo shows present tenant and her youngest child – Close to Sabine National Forest.
Photographer: Muir, Bluford

For the archaeologists and historians, there is even an early (ca. 1938) image of Mound C at the George C. Davis site included in the gallery, which is not restricted only to the forests, but also includes additional historic images from the surrounding area.

Davis Site – Mound C- An Indian Mound of the Neches [Caddo] Indians. This mound is located close to Kings Highway, Route 21, and is just outside the boundary of Davy Crockett National Forest. Recreational Assistant Heers is standing on top of the mound. The Indians were expelled from here in 1839 – Near Davy Crockett National Forest.
Photographer: Muir, Bluford

In total, there are over 1500 images included in the digital gallery. The images are organized chronologically (earliest images will be in the last pages), and those images without a date appear in the first few pages. I encourage you to browse the gallery, and share or download some of these important records of local regional heritage.

This project was funded through Participating Agreement 15-PA-11081300-32 between the Center for Regional Heritage Research at Stephen F. Austin State University, and the National Forests and Grasslands in Texas. All images are available for download on ScholarWorks, and are distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.






3D Scanning Workshop at SMU

I recently visited the Department of Anthropology at SMU to teach a 3D scanning workshop. The repository is host to some very important Caddo vessels from the Sam Kaufman (or Roitsch) site, so we (working with Dr. Sunday Eiselt and her students) documented the vessels in 3D. We thought that this would be a great opportunity for her undergraduate and graduate students to get some hands-on experience with a wide range of scanners, and it worked out very well (more here).

In addition to the 3D documentation, we collected high-resolution photos for each vessel with a standard suite of qualitative attributes (temper, firing core, decorative motif, etc.). These data will augment the results of the upcoming asymmetry and geometric morphometric analyses.

(this is a 3D figure-activate it by clicking on the “play” button, then click/drag to rotate)

Dr. Eiselt’s students caught on quickly (more here), and were soon learning how to edit and process their own scans. While I had previously scanned a few of the vessels, I used the workshop to test a new project-driven workflow that ended up working better for the students. In the image below, you can see one of Dr. Eiselt’s students scanning a vessel with the Creaform scanner, there is an active scan running with the Konica-Minolta Vivid 9i in the light box, and another scanner (NextEngineHD) running on the other side. We also worked through some of the same vessels with the ZScanner700CX.


By the end of the first day, everyone had the basics. On the second day, a selected group of students worked through a set of standard post-processing protocols for scans generated the day before (and a few surprise anomalies that I brought with me). In this exercise, we learned why some scanning strategies work better than others, and why it is important to know that information before starting a new scanning project. We spent some extra time with the NextEngineHD, since they are hoping to purchase one for the lab at SMU.

In addition to the laser scanners, we also learned how to make 3D models using 123D Catch, the free photogrammetry software provided by Autodesk, of Woodmen of the World headstones at a local cemetery. I look forward to seeing some of their new models posted in the near future (see their first model of a headstone here).


robert z selden jr, geometric morphometric, reverse engineer, 3d, 3d scan, 3d model

RevEng/Grave Markers

This article discusses how to create (using free software) 3D models of historic grave markers, which can be used to explore the effects of various preservation treatments, tracking slope in markers that may soon become unstable, and reverse-engineering elements that may have been lost or damaged. This is the first in a series of articles that will focus on grave markers from the Oak Grove Cemetery in Nacogdoches, Texas. Many thanks to those that offered comments on this manuscript while in prep. Additionally, I would like to thank Ben Ford and the folks at the Society for Historical Archaeology’s Technical Briefs in Historical Archaeology for their willingness to push the boundaries of traditional publication by including 3D figures.

To download the article, simply click on the image of the first page below. To activate the 3D content, you will need to save it to your computer, then open it in Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader.


There are a variety of how-to videos distributed by Autodesk that highlight how to make your own 3D models (see below). I encourage you to get out and give it a try!

123D Catch – Create your first project –> click here

123D Catch – Create Your Own 3D Model: Planning your shoot –> click here 

123D Catch – Shooting and Image Upload –> click here 

123D Catch – Navigating your model –> click here 

123D Catch – Manual Stitching –> click here

123D Catch – Creating Animations –> click here 

123D Catch – Mesh Details –> click here 

123D Catch – Reference Points –> click here 

123D Catch – Custom Coordinate System –> click here 

123D Catch – Custom Scene Scale –> click here

Autodesk 123D – 3D Printing your 123D Catch with a MakerBot –> click here





3D Headstones from Oak Grove Cemetery in Nacogdoches, Texas

This is a preview of selected grave markers from Oak Grove Cemetery in Nacogdoches, Texas. As we continue to complete additional models, we will post those for your perusal. I have slowed the animation on some of these, and all can be viewed and manipulated on our Autodesk project website.


robert z selden jr, geometric morphometric, reverse engineer, 3d, 3d scan, 3d model

Using Photogrammetry to Reverse-Engineer a Headstone

While we employ Design X for our work with morphometrics, its primary use is for reverse-engineering parts (components or whole machines) based on 3D scan data. We are doing this with some of our ceramic scans, and it is providing us with a means to further isolate elements (lip, rim, body, neck, etc.) of Caddo ceramic design so that we might view the evolution of each, as well as their contribution to the whole (at various scales; assemblage, 25-mile increments from point of discovery, etc).

This model began as 70 images, which were subsequently processed through Autodesk 123D Catch to create the 3D model (non-invasive/non-destructive). Once uploaded and published to our gallery of markers from the Oak Grove Cemetery in Nacogdoches, Texas, we downloaded the .stl, unzipped the file, then imported it into Design X.


We used planes as a basis for several mesh sketches that were then extruded as solids. Once extruded, each piece was merged with the other parts of the whole. For the sphere atop the marker, we opted to extract a primitive solid. The body of the marker has a draft of 1.5%, meaning that it gets smaller near the top.


The model includes a variety of fillets at varying angles, lengths, and orientations. Using the 3D mesh as baseline data, we inferred these measurements for areas of the marker that had degraded over time. This is particularly true for the base of the marker, which has endured the business end of weed-eaters and projectiles from mowers over the last century.


Once completed, we used the Live Transfer feature in Design X to shift to Autodesk Inventor Pro 2015, where we made a few final changes. The transfer is my favorite part of the process – since Design X is a history-based modeling software, it “builds” your model in Illustrator (or SolidWorks, or AutoCAD) while you watch.


As you may have noticed, the photogrammetry model was not scaled (see the bottom left for any of the Design X images), so the models were subsequently scaled to the appropriate dimensions in post. The utility of this approach can contribute to conservation and preservation dialogues, while yielding accurate (+/-0.3mm in this case) models for a variety of applications. More to come on this line of inquiry soon.