Archives for category: Texas

Dallas Texas

dallas-texasThis pin was a gift from Robert Wilson. I believe the first time I was in Dallas was in November 1963 when I interviewed Atlantic Richfield for a position. It was shortly after the Kennedy assassination. I walked down to the Dealey Plaza from my hotel. I could see figures standing in the shadows, observing all who came near. I suppose they were looking for “persons of interest.” It is still pop culture to consider this a conspiracy.

Dallas is a major city in the state of Texas and is the largest urban center of the fourth most populous metropolitan area in the United States. The city proper ranks ninth in the U.S. and third in Texas after Houston and San Antonio. The city’s prominence arose from its historical importance as a center for the oil and cotton industries, and its position along numerous railroad lines. The bulk of the city is in Dallas County, of which it is the county seat; however, sections of the city are located in Collin, Denton, Kaufman, and Rockwall counties. According to the 2010 United States Census, the city had a population of 1,197,816.

Located in North Texas, Dallas is the main core of the largest metropolitan area in the South and the largest inland metropolitan area in the United States that lacks any navigable link to the sea. Dallas and nearby Fort Worth were developed due to the construction of major railroad lines through the area allowing access to cotton, cattle, and later oil in North and East Texas. The construction of the Interstate Highway System reinforced Dallas’ prominence as a transportation hub with four major interstate highways converging in the city, and a fifth interstate loop around it. Dallas developed as a strong industrial and financial center, and a major inland port, due to the convergence of major railroad lines, interstate highways, and the construction of Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, one of the largest and busiest airports in the world.

Location: 9-B3

I Love Texas

Indeed, there is much to love about Texas. Robert Wilson gave me this pin.

There is much NOT to love as well. Texas can be a hateful state. Its history books distort history and report an ideological view. Texas government leaders have tried, and try earnestly to destroy the public school system, and replace it with what I consider to be madrassas, where everything is taught from an ultra-conservative, biased, biblical interpretative point of view. I did not say from a Bible point of view. To me, these folks (such as Tom Delay) want to teach ideology.

Not only that, Texas has been so gerrymandered that there is no hope of electing anyone but a Republican. Only in the general election does a Democrat have a possibility, and in 2016 that is probably not going to be realized.

Texas is a land of rivers, mountains, and a lot of very, very good people. It also has an almost Nazi group of people who want to control minds from a narrow ideological view.

Location: 9-B2

Yellow Rose of Texas

yellow-rose-of-texasI do not remember where I got this pin, a black map of Texas with the Yellow Rose on it.

Texas history is full of legend and lore. One such tale is the “Yellow Rose of Texas”—a legend commemorated in song. But is there such a rose? And if there is, which rose is it?[1]

The Song

Originally conceived as a folksong in early Colonial Texas history, the first recorded copy of the “Yellow Rose of Texas” was handwritten on a piece of plain paper circa 1836. Historical records indicate this copy was most probably transcribed either shortly before or just after General Sam Houston lead his brigade of Texas loyalists against the army of General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna at the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21, 1836.

The folksong’s lyrics [see Lyrics] tell of a black American (presumably a soldier) who left his sweetheart (a “yellow rose”) and yearns to return to her side. “Yellow” was a term given to Americans of mixed race in those days—most commonly mulattos. And “Rose” was a popular feminine nineteenth century name; frequently used in songs and poems as a symbolic glorification of young womanhood.

The original transcription was poorly made and full of spelling errors. This would indicate that the transcriber was somewhat uneducated but possibly influential, as it was signed with three embellished initials. This copy is now housed in the archives at the University of Texas in Austin.

Although no name is given as the song’s composer in any of the records, a hint may come from the fourth line in the chorus which infers the soldier is from Tennessee. Unfortunately, many men from Tennessee moved to (or were brought to) Texas during its colonization and war of independence. [Also after the Civil War, as was true of some of my family.]

In 1858, the first copyrighted edition of the song was published in New York. The cover states the song was “Composed and Arranged Expressly for Charles H. Brown by J.K.” It was common in the nineteenth century to keep “ghost” composers secretive, especially if the songs had slave folksong origins. Hence, we don’t know who “J.K.” was, nor are we certain he was even the composer. And we’re not likely to find out.

Soon after it was published, the song increased in worldwide popularity and was sung by minstrels both in this country and Europe. As the American Civil War began, it was adopted as a marching song by soldiers everywhere—most often, as you might expect, by those soldiers from Texas. But since it referred to (and was to be sung by) a black American soldier, the song’s lyrics were changed. By the early 1860’s, the term “darky”[sic] was replaced with “soldier,” and the first line of the chorus was changed to “She’s the sweetest little flower….”

Finally, in 1864 with the end of the war nearing, a fourth stanza was added to reflect the dismay and hopelessness of General John B. Hood’s retreating Texas Brigade after its disastrous Tennessee campaign. Some of his troops were so disoriented after the loss, they actually thought the war was over and started returning home—singing, of course, “Yellow Rose of Texas.”

So then, who was Yellow Rose? The answer comes from historical records which tell us the song’s original title was “Emily, the Maid of Morgan’s Point.”

The Legend

Emily of Morgan’s Point refers to an indentured servant, somewhat forgotten in history for her heroism during the Texas war of independence from Mexico. Some contend the legend is a myth—not a part of history. [Abernathy] The historical evidence, however, indicates otherwise.

The legend begins in 1830 with the immigration to Texas of one James Morgan, an entrepreneur from Philadelphia with extensive holdings. Morgan was eager to capitalize on the cheap land and business opportunities in the Mexican colony which would ultimately become Texas. He formed several partnerships with New York speculators for land deals in the fledgling colony. However, Texas did not permit slavery and Morgan had 16 he wanted to bring with him. So to circumvent the law, he converted his slaves into 99-year indentured servants.

In the years that followed, a scheme was conceived to flood Texas with non-Mexicans from the United States. To capitalize on that movement, Morgan returned to New York in 1835 to recruit more workers for his settlement. One such émigré was a twenty year old woman named Emily D. West—“an eastern import with extraordinary intelligence and sophistication.”

Emily West was mulatto and possibly from Bermuda, since Morgan brought many of his workers from this Atlantic island. According to some records, West volunteered to be indentured, most probably to escape the prejudice against her mixed race. And, as was the custom for an indentured worker at the time, she changed her last name to that of Morgan’s.

By the following year in 1836, the war for Texas’ independence from Mexico was fully engaged and led by General Sam Houston. James Morgan’s now successful settlement, New Washington, was strategically located near the mouth of the San Jacinto River. He freely gave his famous oranges, various grains and fattened cattle to Houston’s men. One particularly strategic parcel of land named Morgan’s Point (so called to this day) extended into San Jacinto Bay. From Morgan’s Point, flatboats were loaded with supplies for Houston.

Thus established as a “friend of Texas,” James Morgan was appointed a Colonel. And in March, 1836, he was assigned to the Port of Galveston (some 30 miles away) to guard Texas refugees and fugitive government officials. So that Houston’s supply line would continue, he left Emily West Morgan in charge of loading flatboats destined to feed the army.

By the afternoon of April 18, 1836, General Santa Anna had moved his men into position to attack the Texas rebels he knew to be nearby. On his approach was New Washington—now mostly deserted as its inhabitants fled before his marching army. One of those that remained behind, however, was Emily, and Santa Anna was immediately struck by her beauty.

The next morning, after his men helped themselves to the crops and cattle, Santa Anna set about securing one more “spoil of war”—Emily. He captured her and a young “yellow boy” named Turner loading yet another flatboat headed for Houston’s army. Santa Anna cajoled Turner to lead his Mexican scouts to the Houston encampment. But as they were departing, Emily convinced Turner to escape from Santa Anna’s men and rush to Houston’s camp to inform him of the Mexican general’s arrival.

General Santa Anna believed himself quite the ladies’ man. And although still married to a woman in Mexico, he remarried one of his teenaged captives from his Texas campaign. But he had been without his most recent bride for two weeks now. Emily looked like she would make a very suitable replacement.

Thus, he ordered the immediate setting up of his encampment on the plains of the San Jacinto despite protestations from his colonels who insisted the location violated all principles of wartime strategy. And they were right. Houston, upon hearing of Santa Anna’s location from Turner, moved his troops into the woods within a scant mile of the beguiled general’s headquarters.

On the morning of April 21, Houston climbed a tree to spy into the Mexican camp. There he saw Emily preparing a champagne breakfast for Santa Anna, and reportedly remarked, “I hope that slave girl makes him [Santa Anna] neglect his business and keeps him in bed all day.”

By afternoon, the great final battle for the independence of Texas was engaged. The Mexican army was caught completely by surprise, and Santa Anna was literally caught “with his pants down.” (Reports at the time said he was caught running away from the battle with his studded silk shirt opened and concealed under a dead soldier’s blue smock—hurriedly put on during his attempted escape.)

Emily West Morgan survived the battle and made her way back to New Washington. Two days later, James Morgan, who had not heard of the battle, returned from Galveston and Emily told him of her ordeal and the outcome of the last great battle. The colonel was so impressed with Emily’s heroism, he repealed her indenture and gave her a passport back to New York—the final chapter of which we have no record.

We do know, however, Morgan made certain everyone knew of Emily’s heroism. He told everyone he encountered or anyone who would listen, and recorded the story in his journals. Morgan “kept a running commentary on Texas affairs with Samuel Swartwout, one of Houston’s friends in New York City.” He also told his story to an English friend and ethnologist, William Bollaert, who recorded the story in every detail.

There are some in recent history who have suggested Emily’s efforts were made because she was attracted to the opulence and good looks of the Mexican general. But the accounts from those who were there indicate she was a loyal “Texian” who did what she could for the independence of Texas.

Today, the heroic acts of the young woman from New York are still reverently commemorated by the members of the Knights of the Yellow Rose of Texas each April 21 at San Jacinto.

The Rose

To answer the questions, “Is there a Yellow Rose of Texas?” and if so “What is it?”, the answer is there was a “Yellow Rose.” But it was not a “what” it was a “who”—Emily West Morgan.

It follows, then, that we ask “Is there a rose named in honor of Emily and her heroic act?” Although a possibility, probably not.

In rose literature, the Old Garden Rose most frequently associated with the “Yellow Rose of Texas” is Harison’s Yellow. Let’s examine the possibilities.

In the 1830’s, George Folliott Harison was a New York lawyer and amateur rose hybridizer. He (or possibly his lawyer father, Richard) crossed what is believed to be Rosa foetida persiana (“Persian Yellow”) with R. spinosissima (= R. pimpinellifolia) (“Scotch Briar Rose”). The resulting hybrid was named Rosa x. harisonii or “Harison’s Yellow.” Although once-blooming, Harison’s Yellow was renowned at the time for its vigor, hardiness, resilience and resistance to disease.

The obvious link between the woman, the song, and the rose is New York City. Although I could find no record indicating George and/or Richard Harison were business partners with James Morgan, as “men of means” this may have been a possibility.

It is almost a certainty the New York press would have picked up on the tales coming from the Battle of San Jacinto and the subsequent independence of Texas—especially since James Morgan had business ties to the city. Almost as certain would be James Morgan’s account of his former servant’s heroism—especially since he would have been a “neighbor” from Pennsylvania with numerous business dealings in New York; and she would have been considered a New Yorker who had survived a Texas adventure and returned “home” as a “free woman” to tell about it.

Although I searched the index to The New York Times in great detail, I turned up no such tales. The index itself is handscribed and annotates only important stories as they relate to national and state events and people. “Features” about roses and adventures are not recorded.

The folksong that became so popular also became the theme song for settlers as they traveled long distances in search of a new homestead. In the ensuing decades after its hybridization, both preceding and following the American Civil War, Harison’s Yellow was reportedly carried westward by settlers who planted it wherever they stopped. Even today, naturalized stands of this rose can be found as far west as New Mexico and California. But it is seldom seen naturalized in Texas.

Despite its vigor and resilience to the difficult growing conditions in northern climates, Harison’s Yellow does not grow well in Texas where the growth season is long and summer temperatures are high—most notably in the central and southern portions of the state. Likewise, it does not root well from cuttings—the preferred method of transporting roses by settlers in the nineteenth century.

And what of the comparison between the lyrics and the rose? Is it a “stretch” to connect the brilliant yellow blossoms of Harison’s Yellow with the lyrics “Her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle in the dew”? Can we compare the fruity scent of the blossoms to “She’s the sweetest rose of color….”? Dare we associate the charming but ever-so-prickly canes of this rose to the Mata Hari-like deeds performed on behalf of the fight for Texas independence?

Again, possibly. There is no way of knowing for certain. But if this rose was so nicknamed by travelers in search of long-sought goals—goals commemorated in a wonderful folksong about a Texas heroine—then indeed Harison’s Yellow may well be the “Yellow Rose of Texas.”

Location: 21-A4

[1] From the TAMU web site, downloaded October 10, 2016

Texas US Flags

Texas is really part of the US -- says this pin

Texas is really part of the US — says this pin

Where I got this pin I do not remember. Probably Galveston. In a fit of reducing clutter from my office desk, I discovered it. It’s a great pin compared to some really cheap souvenir pins. By the way, it’s 108 degrees here in West Texas today.

Location: 21-A2

Irving Texas pin with dinosaur

Irving Texas pin with dinosaur

This pin was given to me by Ron Eberhardt. He obtained the pin at a professional meeting.

Irving Texas is located in Texas within Dallas County. Irving is part of the Dallas–Plano–Irving metropolitan division of the Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington metropolitan area, designated by the U.S. Census Irving Texas MapBureau and colloquially referred to as the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.

Irving includes the Las Colinas community, one of the first master-planned developments in the United States and once the largest mixed-use development in the Southwest with a land area of more than 12,000 acres. Las Colinas is home to the Mustangs at Las Colinas, which is the largest equestrian sculpture in the world, as well as many Fortune 500 companies, such as Exxon Mobil. In January 2011 the city completed the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas and plans to develop the area into a mixed-use complex including a special entertainment district.

At first, I misidentified the logo as a dinosaur! My apologies if you saw it. I should have known it was a mustang. Mustangs at Las Colinas is a bronze sculpture by Robert Glen, that decorates Williams Square in Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. It is said to be the largest equestrian sculpture in the world. The sculpture commemorates the wild mustangs that were historically important inhabitants of much of Texas. It portrays a group at 1.5 times life size, running through a watercourse, with fountains giving the effect of water splashed by the animals’ hooves. The horses are intended to represent the drive, initiative and unfettered lifestyle that were fundamental to the state in its pioneer days. The plaza setting for the sculpture won a National Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects.

Location: 16-F4

General geological map of the DFW Metroplex

General geological map of the DFW Metroplex

San Antonio 1996 pin

San Antonio 1996 pin

This pin was given to me by Ron Eberhardt, now retired from TxDot. He acquired it at a professional meeting.

San Antonio is a city built on Texas geology. It not only is a center for geologists who make their living in the state looking for geologic resources—oil, gas, water, and minerals, but it sits astride a fundamental juncture in the state’s geology. The Balcones fault system, nearly 30 miles wide, slices northeast-southwest right through the city, separating the high. Upthrown Cretaceous limestone terrain of the Edwards Plateau and Hill Country north of town from the flat, lowland sandstone and mudstone terrain of the Coastal plain south of town.

The Balcones fault “popped up” about ten million years ago (Miocene) elevating the Edwards Plateau nearly 2,000 feet aboue sea level. The fault follows the edge of the old buried Ouchita Range, which means both the fault and the range lie along a deep-seated suture in the Earth’s crust. The fault is not a single break in the rocks around San Antonio, nor a single line of the geologic map but rather a zone of stair-stepping faults.

General Geology of Texas

Balcones Fault system near San Antonio

Balcones Fault system near San Antonio

Texas is approximately bisected by a series of faults that trend southwest to northeast across the state, from the area of Uvalde to Texarkana. South and east of these faults, the surface exposures consist mostly of Cenozoic sandstone and shale strata that grow progressively younger toward the coast, indicative of a regression that has continued from the late Mesozoic to the present. The coastal plain is underlaid by salt domes that are responsible for many of the oil traps in the region.

North and west of the faults are the Stockton, Edwards, and Comanche plateaux; these define a crustal block that was upthrown during the Neogene (29 Ma to present). This large region of central Texas, which extends from Brewster County east to Bexar, and northeast to the Red River features extensive Cretaceous shale and limestone outcrops. The limestone in particular is important, both economically for its use in cement manufacture and as a building material, as well as practically; a porous limestone formation in the Texas Hill Country is the reservoir of the Edwards Aquifer, a vital water source to millions.

Almost in the center of these Cretaceous rocks is the Llano Uplift, a geologic dome of Precambrian gneiss, schist, and granite, surrounded by Paleozoic sedimentary rocks. The granite here is quarried for construction, but it is perhaps best known to Texans through its manifestation as Enchanted Rock.

From San Saba north to Childress, and from Wichita Falls in the east to Big Spring in the west, the surface consists of late Paleozoic (Pennsylvanian—ca. 215 Ma) to early Mesozoic (Triassic—ca 228 Ma) marine sediments. These strata grow younger from east to west, until they are overlain unconformably[1] by terrigenous Ogallala sediments of Miocene and Pliocene age. These late Cenozoic deposits dominate the Texas Panhandle.

The geology of west Texas is arguably the state’s most complex, with a mix of exposed Cretaceous and Pennsylvanian strata, overlain by Quaternary conglomerates. A series of faults trend southeast to northwest across the region, from Big Bend to El Paso; there are also extensive volcanic deposits. The Marathon Mountains northeast of Big Bend National Park have long been of special interest to geologists; they are the folded and eroded remains of an ancient mountain range, created in the same orogeny that formed the Ouachita and Appalachian Mountains.

Location: 07-F6

[1] (Geological—of rock strata) consisting of a series of younger strata that do not succeed the underlying older rocks in age or in parallel position, as a result of a long period of erosion or nondeposition

Windmill characterizes Lubbock Texas

Windmill characterizes Lubbock Texas

This windmill pin was given to me by Ron Eberhardt, retired from TxDot, and one he received while attending meetings for TxDot.

Lubbock is a city in and the county seat of Lubbock County, Texas, United States. The city is located in the northwestern part of the state, a region known historically and geographically as the Llano Estacado [see below] and ecologically is part of the southern end of the Western High Plains. The city is home to Texas Tech University, and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. The city is the economic center of the Lubbock metropolitan area, which had an estimated 2013 population of 301,038.

Lubbock’s nickname is the “Hub City”, which derives from it being the economic, education, and health care hub of a multicounty region, north of the Permian Basin and south of the Texas Panhandle, commonly called the South Plains. The area is the largest contiguous cotton-growing region in the world and is heavily dependent on irrigation water drawn from the Ogallala Aquifer.

Lubbock High School has been recognized for three consecutive years by Newsweek as one of the top high schools in the United States. Lubbock High School is home to the only international baccalaureate (IB) program in the region. The IB program is one of the criteria examined by Newsweek in formulating their list of top high schools.

Region of the Ogallala formation

Region of the Ogallala formation

Llano Estacado (meaning Palisaded Plain), commonly known as the Staked Plain, is a region in the Southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas. One of the largest mesas or tablelands on the North American continent, the elevation rises from 3,000 feet (900 m) in the southeast to over 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in the northwest, sloping almost uniformly at about 10 feet per mile (1.9 m/km).

Northwest Escarpment of the Llano Estacado

Northwest Escarpment of the Llano Estacado

“The ‘Staked Plains’ tale is deeply entrenched in Texas mythology, but the real interpretation of Llano Estacado is sensible geologic: it means ‘stockaded’ or ‘palisaded’ plains —which is precisely how the edge of the plains appear when viewed from below the caprock!”

Ogallala Aquifer Region

Ogallala Aquifer Region

The Ogallala formation is a wedge of sediments built up eastward of the Rocky Mountains as they were uplifted in the Miocene, with the consequent alluvial fans referred to as the “Gangplank”. The Ogallala Aquifer is the main freshwater source for the region and consists of braided stream deposits filling in valleys during humid climatic conditions, followed by a sub-humid to arid climate and thick eolian (wind-blown) sand and silt. Caliche layers cap the Ogallala, which reflect today’s arid conditions. Pleistocene rainfall over the flat terrain caused water to pond at the surface, resulting in a High Plains characteristic, innumerable round ponds called playa lakes. Spearing[1] goes on to say,

“When the weather is dry, they are dusty, round, gray, usually unvegetated flats, as observed from the highway. But after a High Plains thunderstorm, water quickly fills the ponds, only later soaking into the underlying porous sandstones just below the surface to add to the groundwater in the Ogallala aquifer. Early pioneers depended dearly on water from these surface ponds for themselves and their livestock, considering how few streams are on the High Plains. But rains didn’t always come, and the ponds dried up frequently. The 20th century has witnessed a concerted effort to tap the more reliable Ogallala water sands. Predictably, the consequent high dependency on groundwater has removed more water than is naturally replaced, raising concern for Panhandle citizens and planners as to future water supplies.”

The Pecos and Canadian rivers have eroded the Llano Estacado region down to the Triassic and Permian redbeds resulting is a distinctive color contrast besides separating it from source rocks in the Rocky Mountains.

Location: 07-F5

[1] Spearing, D. (1991). Roadside Geology of Texas. Missoula. MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company,

Wichita Falls Texas - N. Texas dry hot city

Wichita Falls Texas – N. Texas dry hot city

The Choctaw Native Americans settled the area in the early 18th century. White settlers arrived in the 1860s to form cattle ranches. The city was officially titled Wichita Falls on September 27, 1872. On that day, a sale of town lots was held at what is now the corner of Seventh and Ohio streets—the birthplace of the city. The Fort Worth and Denver Railway arrived in 1882, the same year the city became the county seat of Wichita County. The city grew westwards from the train depot. This area is now referred to as the Depot Square Historic District, which has been declared a Texas Historic Landmark.

A flood in 1886 destroyed the original falls on the Wichita River for which the city was named. After nearly 100 years of visitors wanting to visit the non-existent falls, the city built an artificial waterfall beside the river in Lucy Park. The recreated falls are 54 feet high and recirculate at 3,500 gallons per minute.

Wichita Falls is located at 33°53′49″N 98°30′54″W. The city is about 15 miles south of the border with Oklahoma, 115 miles northwest of Fort Worth, and 140 miles southwest of Oklahoma City. The city has a total area of 70.71 square miles of which 70.69 square miles is land and 0.02 square miles (0.03%) is water.

In September 2011 Wichita Falls became the first Texas city to have 100 days of 100 °F in one year.

Sandstone channel in mudstone as exposed along Wiley Road, west of Wichita Falls. The buff colored rock preserves numerous fluvial sedimentary structures.

Sandstone channel in mudstone as exposed along Wiley Road, west of Wichita Falls. The buff colored rock preserves numerous fluvial sedimentary structures.

The exposed strata at the surface in and around Wichita Falls are the products of one ancient period of deposition with a modest amount of recent and modern alteration. In all cases, the strata are products of terrigenous (non-marine) environments dominated by fluvial depositional and erosional systems (rivers and streams).

The rocks found in and around Wichita Falls result from southwesterly-flowing Permian streams that deposited sands in channels and silts and clays on the surrounding floodplains. Calcium-carbonate rich soils concurrently developed adjacent to these streams. These were likely buried by further Permian sedimentation and then lithified. Pleistocene erosion removed the younger rocks, exposing the current strata. Exposures of sediments indicate that northeast-flowing streams locally deposited silts, clays, sands, and some gravels on the Permian rocks. These are subsequently modified by modern (Holocene) stream erosion and deposition.

In the Permian geologic period, North-Central Texas was a part of the western coastal zone of equatorial Pangea, a super-continental land mass. Nearby uplifts and mountainous regions, such as the Muenster

Arch and Red River Uplift, the Wichita, Arubckle, and Ouachita mountains developed by the end of the Pennsylvanian, providing elevated topography to the north and east during the Permian. The rocks of the Permian Basin of West Texas record a contemporaneous shallow inland sea. The resulting topography provided northeast-to-southwest gradients for stream flow and sediment movement. The sediments deposited by the Permian streams of North-Central Texas were likely reworked clastic materials from Middle Pennsylvanian stream and fan-delta sediments proximal to the Ouachita foldbelt and Muenster Highlands.

The Petrolia Formation (of the Late Wolfcampian-Leonardian systems) dominates the exposed Permian strata in Wichita falls, as mapped by the 1987 Texas Atlas of Geology. The map describes the formation as 360–400 feet of weakly or unstratified mudstone with laminated, cross-bedded sandstone lenses. The formation increases in mudstone content upsection. Sandstone lenses contain terrestrial fossils of plants, vertebrates, and footprints. The unit contains calcareous nodules of varying sizes as well as poorly indurated “conglomerate” with vertebrate fossils. In general the entire package is only weakly lithified, perhaps indicating that the region was not appreciably covered by a thick package of younger strata.

Several correlated sandstone units crop out in the immediate region. These dominate the region adjacent to the Seymour Highway, on the slopes to the south of the Wichita River (locally know as “the bluffs”). Most outcrops are buff colored medium-grained, well-sorted quartzose sandstones. These exhibit extensive cross-bedding and soft-sediment deformation features. Some deposits are friable, others well cemented. Locally, there appears to be three prominent layers of sandstone separated by mudstone. Because of variable erosion rates, each influences topography by forming ledges and benches, and in places may form mesa-like landforms. In and around the city, these occur roughly at 960, 1000, and 1060 feet above sea level.

Up to 30 feet of fluvial deposits of unconsolidated gravel, sand, and silt mapped as terrace deposition by the 1987 Texas Atlas of Geology. Gravels are granule-to-cobble size, with clasts of angular to well-rounded quartzite, quartz, and chert from distal sources and lesser fragments of local strata. The sands are orange-brown to tan, fine- to coarse-grained with preserved soils.

Structural Geology

The region is largely underlain with shallowly west-dipping strata, but a significant uplifted block is found in the subsurface immediately north of Wichita Falls. This block, locally known as the Red River uplift, may be part of an uplifted system that extends eastward, joining the Muenster Arch. The uplifts offset Pennsylvanian and older strata in the subsurface and are thought to be contemporaneous with the Ouachita and Ancestral Rocky Orogenies. These Pennsylvanian orogenies resulted from the closure of the Iapetus ocean as the Gondwana and Laurentia continents collided to form Pangea.

Petroleum resources were discovered in the region in the early 1900s, and the area remains a locus of exploration and production.

Location: 07-F4

American Traffic Safety Services Association pin

American Traffic Safety Services Association pin

This pin of Texas and the ATSSA was given to me by Ron Eberhardt, who is now retired from TxDot. He obtained it at a convention of the ATSSA convention.

ATSSA represents the road safety, traffic safety, and highway safety industry with effective legislative advocacy, traffic control safety training, and a far-reaching member partnership. Let’s move toward zero deaths on our nation’s roads.

Location: 07-E6

Forth Worth Pin

Forth Worth Pin

This pin I got from Ron Eberhardt formerly with TxDot.

Fort Worth’s motto is: “Where the West Begins”.

The fertile, game-rich land surrounding the banks of the Trinity River had long been a favorite hunting ground for Native Americans in the area, but it soon proved irresistible to settlers as well.

A settlement had been established by Jonathon Bird in the winter of 1840, three miles east of where Birdville is today. In 1843, Sam Houston came to what was then called Fort Bird or Bird’s Fort and remained more than a month, awaiting chiefs from different tribes to discuss a peace parley. Houston departed, leaving Gen. Edward H. Tarrant and George W. Terrell to meet with the chiefs. When the tribes came to the negotiating table, a treaty was made under which the Native Americans were to remain to the west of a line traced passing through the future site of Fort Worth. The line marked “Where the West Begins”—giving Fort Worth its famous slogan.

In an attempt to establish control over North Texas, the Republic of Texas attempted to set up a line of “ranger” (militia) forts on the frontier. When ranger stations proved inadequate, the U.S. Army stepped in and took over the job of watching the frontier. It adopted a “picket line” strategy of establishing forts every 100 miles or so, stretching from the Rio Grande in the south to the Red River in the north.

In the spring of 1849, Fort Graham on the Brazos River represented the northern anchor of that defensive line, leaving a 130-mile gap up the Red River that was a blind spot in the state’s defenses. To extend the line farther north and close that gap, Col. William S. Harney, acting commander of the Department of Texas after the death of Maj. Gen. Williams Jenkins Worth, on May 7 ordered Maj. Ripley Arnold up to the Trinity River.

Arnold took a small party of 2nd Dragoon troopers and proceeded to Johnson’s Station, where he hooked up with Middleton Tate Johnson and four other civilians. They rode west to a spot near the confluence of the Clear and West forks of the Trinity. There, at the end of May, they planted Old Glory on the future site of Fort Worth.

A week later, Arnold was back with his entire command, the 42 men of Company F, 2nd Dragoons. The men set to work building a fort and, by the end of August, they were ready to move in.

A small civilian community grew up in the comforting shadow of the fort. No more than 100 people lived in the vicinity, most of whom were more dependent on the garrison for economic well-being than safety. Farther out from the bluffs, the county created by the state legislature in 1849—Tarrant—also began filling up with homesteaders attracted by the rich soil and the security provided by the U.S. Army. In the next four years, the number of settlers grew to some 350 hardy souls.

On September 17, 1853, the fort was vacated. Troops were redeployed as the line marking the Western frontier made another push toward the Pacific Ocean.

Fort Worth area geological map

Fort Worth area geological map

Dallas–Fort Worth sits above Cretaceous-aged strata, dates ranging from ~145-66 Ma. These Cretaceous-aged sediments lie above the eroded Ouachita Mountains and the Fort Worth Basin, which was formed by the Ouachita Orogeny. Going from west to east in the DFW Metroplex and down towards the Gulf of Mexico, the strata gets progressively younger. The Cretaceous sediments dip very gently (about 1°) to the east.

The Cretaceous rocks in the DFW Metroplex are divided into the older Comanchean Series in the west, and the younger Gulfian Series in the east, as is displayed above.

A simulated-color satellite image of Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas, taken by NASA’s Landsat 7 satellite. Dallas makes up much of the right half of the urbanized area. Red is vegetated area surrounding DFW. Notice also the many reservoirs in the area.

The geology of the DFW Metroplex consists of gently tilted sediments of mostly Cretaceous age, which also obscures a much older geologic record. Sediments older than Cretaceous can be found only at the surface in the extreme western part of the DFW Metroplex, in the area around Weatherford, Texas. Ancient folded mountains formed by the Ouachita orogeny existed in the eastern part of the Metroplex 300 million years ago. These ancient mountains were reduced by erosion and rifting associated with the opening of the Gulf of Mexico in Jurassic time and were buried beneath younger Cretaceous sediments. Although the Ouachita Mountain roots are not visible in the DFW Metroplex since they are buried, they can still be recognized by boreholes and other data. In west Texas near Marathon, the mountain range makes an appearance to the surface, and is known as the Marathon Uplift. To the north of the DFW Metroplex, we can see the roots of these mountains in SE Oklahoma. We know of these today as the Arbuckle mountains, despite the fact that they are far from what the untrained eye would consider a former vast mountain range.

The Marathon-Ouachita-Appalachian-Variscan cordillera, which stretched through central Texas, around Arkansas, up through the Appalachian Mountains and eventually into eastern Europe, occurred when the supercontinents Pangea and Laurussia collided to form Pangea in the late Paleozoic ~300 Ma. The zone of deformation known as the Ouachitas marks a zone of weakness that was exploited when the Gulf of Mexico opened about 165 Ma, in Jurassic time.

The oldest rocks in Texas date from the Precambrian, specifically the Mesoproterozoic and are about 1,600 million years old, and mark the southern limit of the North American craton. These rocks are mostly buried beneath Phanerozoic sediments, but are exposed in the Llano area, where previous Precambrian igneous and metamorphic rocks where uplifted and exposed at the surface. These billion year old rocks can only be seen several thousand feet in the subsurface by boreholes and other data in the DFW Metroplex.

The Fort Worth Basin which lies beneath Cretaceous sediments west of Dallas formed as a foreland basin during the Ouachita orogeny. Horizontal shortening caused flexual isostasy to bend the lithosphere. The bent lithosphere to the west of the Ouachita Mountains caused a bowl shaped depression to form, known as a foreland basin, preserving the Mississippian sediments of the Barnett Shale and other Paleozoic sediments; these sediments mostly formed before the Pangeic collision. Significant deposits of hydrocarbons such as natural gas have economic importance as is seen in formations like the Barnett Shale.

Pangea started to break up during the Triassic ~225Ma. Rifting affected regions which became the central Atlantic (between North America and Africa) and the Gulf of Mexico at about the same time. This rifting created a divergent plate margin that would play an integral role of the future geologic processes to follow. Rifting which involves the stretching of pre-existing crust and mantle lithosphere was initiated by the existence of sufficient horizontal deviatoric tensional stress that broke the lithosphere. Eventually rifting gave way to sea floor spreading in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico in the mid Jurassic, around ~165 Ma. Sea floor spreading is where new oceanic lithosphere is being created by upwelling of material, unlike rifting where it only involved the stretching of the crust. Convection currents in the sub-lithospheric mantle are the driving mechanisms that caused sea floor spreading to occur. New lithosphere is made when hot material beneath ocean ridges is brought to the surface by these cells. As the new lithosphere moves horizontally away from the ridges, the new crust added to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic caused the continents of North America and South America to be moved apart. Seafloor spreading in the Gulf of Mexico ceased by the beginning of the Cretaceous and spreading shifted to the proto-Caribbean.

Around 110-85 Ma, there was world-wide oscillatory increases in ocean floor spreading rates. The increase in the amount of basalt being injected into the ocean caused a displacement of water from the ocean basins, which resulted in sea level rise, flooding the coasts of the Texas margin and other bordering continents around the world. The major sea level rise that took place due to an occurrence of an oscillation is known as the Cenomanian transgression, which is the most well known and last major transgression in the Cretaceous. The dispersal of extra magma warmed the water in the ocean, and was a conducive environment for calcareous-shelled organisms, which eventually died and sunk to the bottom of the ocean floor creating thick deposits of limestone. In addition to the displacement of water, an increase in injected magma raised CO₂ levels to around 2-6 times the current level. The increase in CO₂ levels along with the extra production of crust caused global temperatures to rise, which would also play an integral role in the future development of different Cretaceous formations. When the sea floor spreading rates slowed around ~85 Ma, so did the amount of basaltic material being thrown into the ocean which caused the initial water displacement. As seen around the DFW Metroplex, the Cretaceous rocks deposited during this time were directly influenced by increased sea floor spreading rates.

Location: 07-E5