Hooper’s Trail

The reason I was so taken with Neil Brennan’s scrapbook in the first place was the quality of the photographs. They’re quite artfully composed but beyond that they are just flat out interesting. He took pictures of things that other people didn’t, he hung out windows and turned around and photographed what was behind him. Here’s one that left me slack jawed. It’s labeled “Hooper’s trail to Rice”:

New Hoopers trail to Rice Neil Brennan 1941061

I have looked at this for quite some time now and I almost think I understand it. He was not on campus when he took it, but rather across Rice Boulevard walking towards school. That’s the back of the Power House at left and the Chemistry tower at right. If you zoom in you can see what look like the roofs of two cars just to the left of where the trail disappears–that must be Rice Boulevard, no? And the line of trees are then the oaks on the south side of the street.

I had to scour a ridiculous number of aerial photos before I found one where I think you can see the path. It always seemed to be tantalizingly out of reach. This one came out of Jim Sim’s papers and it looks like it was taken in roughly the same era as Brennan’s shot–late ’30s to early ’40s, when Sims, ’41 was also a student at Rice. You can see it even without zooming in, right off the back of the power house across the street. Even the telephone poles in the first picture, which had initially bothered me, are just barely visible here if you do decide to take a closer look:

Aerial late 30s Sims Papers

So why was it called Hooper’s Trail?

I don’t have the first idea.

Bonus: For more musing about the career of Neil Brennan, try this post by my friend Patrick Kurp. It’s good.

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5 Responses to Hooper’s Trail

  1. I see. It cuts straight across the block where First Christian Church is now. It looks like it would come out in the middle of a block. Looking at the Google satellite photography, I bet it lined up with the alley that goes between Cherokee and Mandell.

  2. Melissa Kean says:

    I think that’s right. I also had another thought in the middle of the night last night. It looks like after you’d cross the street, you’d turn to your right and walk a bit west to get to the path through the hedges and onto campus. I’d bet cash money that that path is where the turnstile was located.

    https://ricehistorycorner.com/2013/10/23/where-did-that-turnstile-come-from/

  3. Mike Stavinoha says:

    I have looked at these two pictures quite a lot, and I am struck by the larger road just to the right of the line of telephone poles. It appears to me that this may be an unpaved Cherokee Street, with Hooper’s Trail being just a bit to the east of it, through the area now covered by the church.

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