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Past Adventures

Gem Trails of Texas : South Texas 2005 - Part II

The sights include :  The Palmito Ranch Battlefield Site, Hidalgo's Giant Killer Bee, the Los Ebanos Hand Pulled Ferry, Rock Hunting in Sullivan City, Bob's Nob Campgrounds, the Falcon Reservoir, South and North Laredo, Freer, Tilden, Choke Canyon, Three Rivers, Campbellton, Falls City and Devine, TX, the Giant Rattle Snake of Freer, the Giant Peanut of Floresville, Giant Strawberries in Poteet, another Giant Peanut in Pearsall, Popeye the Sailor in Crystal City and the Metal Art Sculpture Oil Pumps in Luling .

Forward : (As always, click on the picture for for a larger image and click on the links for photos surprises.)

     We will continue with our adventure.  At least we finally start to find some rocks this time!  If you hit this page before reading Part I of the adventure, then click here :

Gem Trails of Texas : South Texas 2005 - Part I

Star Date 05/10/2005 - Tuesday

     After our freebie continental breakfast, we gassed up, and headed back out of town on east on Hwy 4 towards Boca Chica.  After passing a Border Patrol check point, we  arrived at the Palmito Ranch Battlefield.  One of the last battles of the Civil War was fought here.  In fact, it was fought after Lee had surrendered his army.  The fighting Irish Texas Confederates and the Union North duked it out here.  But now, this area is another game preserve for you bird people!

     We then arrived back into town after passing inspection at the border checkpoint, and took Hwy 281 west to our first stop in Hidalgo, TX.  There in Hidalgo, we found the famous giant Killer Bee!   Apparently, this area reported the first sightings of the African Killer Bees migrating into the US.  From the tourist literature, the people of Hidalgo are also proud of their old pump house which was used to irrigate the fields around here and also their old courthouse.  The drive between Brownsville and Hidalgo were literally the smells of your produce section at your local super market with the Border Patrol stationed at every mile or so apart.  We pulled over to one area where the migrant workers were harvesting in an onion patch and told the foreman where he could find some really cheap labor.  Then he told us to buzz off!

     From Hidalgo, we took Hwy 115 north to McAllen and then Hwy 83 west to our next stop in Sullivan City.  "Finally Chad", We're going to hunt for rocks!"  In the Gem Trails of Texas Book by Brad Cross, the site is Sullivan Agate, pp. 142-143. We followed his map by taking FM 886 south until we got to a road that parallel some railroad tracks.  We took the dirt road southeast a little ways and began our hunt for agate along the side of the dirt road.  Though not the greatest, we did find a some agate.  Some of it was banded or fortified.  The quality of what we found was really not that great and is only suitable for a tumbler polisher.  Although I forgot to take down the GPS coordinates of the site, thanks to MAPTEC.Com, I was able to approximate the coordinates which are :

26 15.329 North & 98 33.425 W

     We went back to  FM 886 and continued south to Los Ebanos, home to the hand pulled ferry across the Rio Grande River.  No joke!  There is even a US border check point here.  Here the prices for boarding their sea worthy vessel.  There was quite a line-up to get across.  We then backtracked to Hwy 83 and decided not to give the La Grulla site a try and simply move on.

     We continued northwest on Hwy 83 and arrived in Rio Grande City which is also the county seat of Starr County

     A little past the city of Lopeno, we took FM 2686 west to Bob's Nob campgrounds as described on pp. 140-141 of Brad's book and the illustrated map.  This dirt road was way too rough for my car.  We did make it to one of the signs showing the way to the campgrounds and a little beyond.  Unfortunately, the road is also a maze and we were also worried about trying to find our way back out!  However, we stopped and picked up agate around the road.  There was plenty to be found, but, you had to keep your eyes to the ground to find anything decent to take home.  I would come back and try to find this place again, but only if I were in a truck with a heavy duty suspension.  Sorry, no GPS coordinates since we really never made it there.  But, there are plenty of agate, jasper and wood along the road!  But then again, we only found "tumbler quality" of material.

     We then backtracked to Hwy 83 and continued north to Zapata.  Zapata is also the county seat of Zapata County. This time, we followed one of Melinda Crow's sites in her book, "Rock Hounding Texas."  On pp. 160-162, "Site 75 - Falcon Reservoir Agate and Wood" describes a location off of the Flacon Reservoir for finding more of those Texas gems.  In, Zapata, we took FM 496 west to FM 3074 and turned left.  We headed all the way down until the road dead-ended near the lake.  Melinda describes a set of boulders and just beyond that to the lake is the area in which to hunt.  Well, we found the boulders but the lake level must have really dropped since the book was written.  Where the water once was, is now just dirt with a lot of rocks in it.  We found quite a bit  of agate, jasper and some wood.  But again, it was only tumbler quality stuff.  Here are the GPS coordinates :

26 51.842 N &99 16.971 W

      We backtracked to Zapata and continued northwest on Hwy 83.  Just before we reached Laredo, We stopped at a rest stop.  The GPS coordinates were :

 27 25.272 N & 99 28.926 W

This site is "Site 72 - South Laredo Agate" as described in Melinda's book on pp. 156-157.  The picking were pretty good here as well.  It seems all the agate, jaspers and wood are hidden and mixed in with the brown dirt.  But again, it was only tumbler quality agate and wood.

     We then continued into Laredo.  On the way in, we saw the world's biggest six pack of Pepsi, not!  Well, I'm sure you have heard and seen drive-in beer barns.  Same thing, but the structure resembles a six pack of Pepsi sodas and yes, they do sell beer in there.  We also found out that Laredo is the county seat of Web County.  We made to our lodgings for the night.  However, there might still be enough light!

     On pp 153-154 of Melinda's book, "Site 71 - North Laredo Agate", describes another location for rock hunting.  We unloaded at the motel and headed north out of town on FM 1472 and about 10.5 miles out we stop at two road cuts at the following GPS coordinates :

27 39.467 N & 99 34.342 W

and

27 39.694 N & 99 35.214 W

The first site was not so productive, however, the second site proved quite productive.  We picked up several handfuls of agate and jasper before night fell.  Again, tumble quality only.   While we were collecting at the second site, about 3/4's of Laredo's law enforcement sped by us heading out of town with sirens blowing full blast.  Something was obviously up.  By the time we headed back into town, we past another accident and they had to borrow the Border Patrol to direct traffic around the accident

Star Date 05/11/2005 - Wednesday (Rock hounding - Day 2)

     Another day of rock hunting.  We got ourselves ready for the morning and decided that we might go into Mexico for a while and check things out.  Unfortunately, we could not afford the Mexican auto insurance and the taxis there looked like they could break down at any moment.  So, we decided to checked out the old Fort McIntosh near the Laredo Community College Campus.  We arrived at the school only to learn through all the various historic markers around the campus that yeas this was the site of the old fort and many of the old fort's structures were now gone.  A few did remain and were turned into administrative and other offices for the school. 

     So we took off and headed out of town on Hwy 359 east to Hebbronville, TX.  Hebbronville is the county seat of Jim Hogg County.  We then headed north on Hwy 16 to a site that Melinda calls in her book, Site 73, "Freer Agate" on pp. 158-159.  The road cut we chose was just passed the FM 2295 intersection at GPS coordinates :

27 36.034 N & 98 39.381 W

This location was almost as good as the North Laredo location.  Agate of black, red and white were found here with some inclusions.  Just across the road we observed some type of mining activity.

     We then continued north on Hwy 15 until we reached Freer, TX.  In Freer, we found a sculpture of the biggest rattle snake in Texas if not the world.  Unfortunately, I learned the hard way about using my cell phone while driving.  But, eventually, we were back on the road again.

     We continued north on Hwy 16 and then in Tilden, TX, just north of town, Melinda describes in her book her "Site 70 - Tilden Agate" as another place for investigation.  We stopped at a bridge over the Frio river but found it too difficult to hike down to the banks.  So we returned to Tilden and continued west on Hwy 72.

     Hwy 72 runs south of Choke Canyon State Park.  Brad describes a site here in which he calls "Wood & Agate - Choke Canyon Reservoir" on pp. 152-153.  The mileages on his map did not make much sense to us, however, we took Park Road 7 towards the lake and stopped at a road cut with the following coordinates :

28 27.845 N & 98 24.329 W

This was surprising a good site.  Some unusual white petrified wood was found.  Most of it was quite brittle, however, some of it was quite hard with a high silica content.  Other types of petrified wood was also found with darker colors.  Black agate, red jasper and agate were also found.  We then followed the road all the way to the public boat ramp area.  There, we found plenty of rocks, under the water though

     We backtracked to Hwy 72 and continued east.  In Melinda's book, on pp. 149-150, "Site 68 - Three Rivers Agate", she describes several road cuts along Hwy 72.  Near the Park Road 8 intersection, we stopped at a road cut with the following GPS coordinates :

 28 27.035 N & 98 22.224 W

More agate, jasper, petrified wood and some pieces of pink and black petrified palm wood were found mixed in with the soil.  But be careful crossing the road to the other road cut.  This little guy didn't make it!  Seriously, be careful!

     We continued to the city of Three Rivers and noticed on Brads map of a site south of town.  Again, his map was awful.  We tried searching CR 317 and 376 but found nothing.  Don't waste your time here. 

     From Three Rivers, we continued north on Hwy 37/281 and took 281 Alt. north towards Campbellton. In Melinda's book, on pp. 147-148, "Site 67 - Campbellton Selenite", describes some road cuts where Selenite, much like that found around the Lake McKenzie area in the Texas Panhandle can be found.  We stopped at one road cut at GPS coordinates :

 28 40.046 N & 098 17.244 W

and only found some interesting banded sandstone that looked much like wonderstone.  However, further north, we found a road cut at GPS coordinates :

28 41.534 N & 98 17.526 W

in which we did find some Selenite.  Unfortunately, it was not near as nice as the samples found around Lake McKenzie.  However, we also found some petrified palm wood, agate and some red jasper.

     We continued north on Hwy 281 Alt until we finally reached Campbellton.  From Campbellton, we traveled east on FM 791 towards Falls City.  We found an interesting road cut at GPS coordinates :

 28 50.518 N & 98 10.689 W

where we found tons of good Selenite.  We collected some and continued east.  Melinda states in her book on pp. 145-146, "Site 66 - Falls City Agate and Wood" an area 2-5 miles outside of town where agate, wood and onyx can be found.  We never saw any road cuts in this area.  However, we did stop at GPS coordinates :

 28 57.135 N & 98 3.789 W

and found a few pieces of agate along the roadside.  We declared this site a big fat dud!

      We made it to Falls City and then headed north on Hwy 181 through Poth and stopped in Floresville to see their Giant peanut!  Floresville is also the county seat of Wilson County.  They do have a neat little jail house museum worthy of investigation.

     From Floresville, we headed west on Hwy 97 to Pleasanton and then north on FM 476 to Poteet.  In Poteet, the city's water tower is painted like a big strawberry and in front of the fire department sits the world's biggest strawberry.  Apparently they are know for growing strawberries here.

     From Poteet, we headed north west out of town to FM 2504 and followed it south west to Hwy 173.  We then traveled on Hwy 173 through Devine, TX and another 4.2 miles to a site that Melinda describes in her book on pp. 143-144, "Site 65 - Devine Chocolate Agate" for you guessed it, chocolate agate.  We never found the road cut or hill described in her book.  However, we did take a left at the FM 1343 intersection, drove up to the top of a hill and found the chocolate agate at GPS coordinates :

 29 11.212 & 98 58.185.

 It did look more like brown flint than agate.  We grabbed a couple of handfuls and backtracked to Devine.

     From Devine, we headed north on I-35 to Lytle, TX where we lodged at a local Days Inn for the night.

Star Date 05/12/2005 - Thursday

     Well, that's it for the rock hunting in the South Texas area.  Though we missed a few spots in the Texas rock hunting books, we did make a good haul and it was time to head for home the long way.

     We traveled south on I-35 to Pearsall, TX, the county seat of Frio County.  Pearsall is also home to another giant peanut.  They too have a jail house museum and are mighty proud of it since they guard it with a canon!

     We continued south on I-35 to Cotulla, TX, which is the county seat of La Salle County.  I could tell Chad was getting a little worried when he saw the mileage signs to Laredo stating only another 80 miles or so.  Heck when are we going to turn around?  We were just in Laredo yesterday and I don't want to go back!".  'Don't worry, were turning west now!" I exclaimed!  "Have some more beef jerky for breakfast or zip up your lips."

     From Cotulla, we headed west on FM 468, then west on Hwy 85 to Carrizo Springs.  "But we're heading west, home is back east."  "I know", I said, "I need more courthouse pictures.  It may be a long time before I'm ever out this way again!".  Carrizo Springs is the county seat of Dimmit County.

     From Carrizo Springs, we then headed north on Hwy 83 to Crystal City.  Not only is Crystal City the county seat of Zavala County, but , also home to the big Popeye statue sitting in front of one of the city's Administrative buildings.  From what I understand, they once grew a lot of spinach here.  The statue dated back to 1937.

     From Crystal City, we continued north on Hwy 83 to Uvalde, TX.  Uvalde is the county seat of Uvalde County.

     From Uvalde, we then continued east on Hwy 90 to Hondo, TX.  I hope Chad is happy now.  Hondo is the county seat of Medina County.  Hondo is suppose to have an interesting billboard sign warning drivers to slow down.  Unfortunately, we never found it.

     We continued east on Hwy 90 as it turned into I-10 in San Antonio and continued east to Luling, TX.  Although I reported on Luling's interesting water tower painted like a watermelon in my Thanksgiving Road Trip of 2003 story, I wanted to return this time to check out their decorated oil pumps in town.  We were able to find a few of them :

Butterfly Oil Pump

Cow Over the Moon Oil Pump

Santa in his Sleigh Oil Pump

and

The Football Player Oil Pump

Some of these pumps were still operational.  Lunch was at the Luling BBQ.  My Uncle Bob from California once read about this restaurant in one of those airliner magazines you get to read while flying.  So he made my Uncle Tom in San Antonio take him there when visiting one year.  Well Bob, its good stuff, but not worth the drive all the way from San Antonio!  At this point, I very cautiously phoned home to tell the parental units we would be arriving back in another hour and a half.

     From Luling, we continued east on I-10 and then took Hwy 36 back south to Brazoria and Hwy 288 back south to Lake Jackson. 

     Wow, what a trip!  I guess you might want to see some of the rocks now?  Well, here they are :

Click on the picture for a larger image .....

     Banded fine white granite.  Found near the Bob's Knob site area, the Falcon Reservoir site and the North and South Laredo sites.

 

     Banded sandstone found at a road cut where Campbellton Selenite should have been found.

 

 

     Black agate found at the Bob's Nob site area, the Falcon Reservoir site and the North and South Laredo sites.

 

     Agate found near the Bob's Nob agate site.

 

 

     Samples found at the 2nd Campbellton site.  Top row : Selenite, Second row : Petrified Wood and Agate, Bottom row : Petrified Palm Wood.

 

     Chocolate agate or flint found at the Devine agate site.

 

     Agate found at the North and South Laredo sites.

 

 

     Weird white agate and pink petrified palm wood found at the Three Rivers Site.

 

     Red jasper found at the Falcon reservoir site.

 

 

     White agate found at the North and South Laredo sites.

 

 

     White and dark petrified wood found at the Choke Canyon site.

 

     A box of rocks found on this trip.

     Granted, I admit we may have missed a few places, however, if you are on out the door to hunt in some of these areas, them I hope you find the information useful.   I guess its time for me to write up this story!

       So, until next time, take care and I'll  See you... on the road, or in the workshop, (which is really just my garage) !!!!

                                                     Francis                        

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