A Landing a Day

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Breckenridge, Texas

Posted by graywacke on April 18, 2014

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now more-or-less a twice a week blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Landing number 2095; A Landing A Day blog post number 523.

 Dan –  For the third time in the last 12 landings, I find myself in . . . TX; 154/184; 6/10; 148.3.  Here’s my regional landing map:


My local landing map shows that I landed near Breckenridge:


Zooming back a little, you can see that I landed very close to a previous landing (landing 2018, my Ft. Griffin post of April 2013).  I’ve decided to ignore Ft. Griffin and concentration instead on Breckenridge.


Here’s my Google Earth (GE) shot, showing a ill-defined, semi-arid, rural landscape:


My streams-only map shows a fairly straightforward watershed analysis:


This was my 5th landing in the Clear Fork of the Brazos River watershed (making it the 153rd river on my list of rivers with five or more hits); on to the Brazos (29th hit).  As shown here, the Brazos goes by Waco, but by no other major cities on its way to the Gulf:

 landing5 regional streams

 From Wiki, about the Brazos:

The Brazos River, called the Rio de los Brazos de Dios by early Spanish explorers (translated as “The River of the Arms of God”), is the longest river in Texas and the 11th longest river in the United States with a length of 1,280 miles.

There seems to be no definitive word on why the river was called “Arms of God,” but I like it and am sorry the name was shortened to “Arms.”

 Moving along to Breckenridge, this from Wiki:

 Breckenridge was a major oil producer in the early 1920s. The population jumped from a thousand to fifty thousand in under five years.

This was one of those genuine Texas Oil Boom Towns.

After checking out Google images, I quickly found that one of Breckenridge’s favorite sons was one Basil Clemons.  From the University of Texas, Arlington libraries (which published a guide to the Basil Clemons photograph collection) I learned that Basil was born in 1887 in Alabama; lived in California where he learned the art of photography; spent time in Alaska taking pictures, but ended up in Breckenridge Texas. 

 basil clemons photo

Here’s a quote from the webpage:

While traveling with a circus in 1919, he returned to Texas. After receiving word that his studio in Seattle was destroyed by fire, he headed toward the oil boom town of Breckenridge in Stephens County, Texas. There he photographed the oil fields, the town, and its surrounding communities, until blindness and other health problems ended his career in 1949.

Clemons lived and developed his photographs in a gypsy wagon without benefit of running water or electricity. Unfortunately, there are no photos in the collection of this wagon other than small portions of the interior or exterior in an occasional print. His photographs epitomize small town America, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s.

This will be a simple post, featuring back-in-the-day shots of Breckenridge by Mr. Clemons.  I’ll start with this one (with Clemon’s own caption below):

car and horse uta.edu

Down In Breckenridge, Texas Where Horses Ride in Fords

 Here’s a shot of a 1929 high school football game:

 1929 football breckenridge 26-0 over abilene

Final score:  Breckenridge 26, Abilene 0.

 Here’s a unique shot!  That’s a rattlesnake being cooked for dinner at the campsite:

 Camp_Ladies rattlesnake roast

The circus came to Breckenridge.  Here’s a featured act:

 elephant trick

A shot of the Breckenridge fire chief on the job:


Here are some shots that might not be from Clemons.  Here’s an oil derrick on Main Street from NY Times archives)

 oil rig 1920 ny times

Speaking of oil derricks, here’s a sea of oil derricks just outside of Breckenridge:

 texas tech old oil field shot

From TXRRHistory.com, here’s a shot of the train station:

 txrrhistory.com old depot

And the elegant Regal Theater (cinematreasures.com):

 regal theater cinematreasures.org

 Going back to Basil, I’ll close with this great shot of . . . well, I’ll just let the picture speak for itself:

 clemons ut arlington

That’ll do it.




© 2014 A Landing A Day

2 Responses to “Breckenridge, Texas”

  1. Hi — enjoyed the Clemons photos in this post — every site you land in initially looks so unpromising, but you always eke out a good story — with pics.

    Did I tell you we went to Nebraska? for a week — f**cking HOT — 100F all week — but so much fun! People generous, kind and friendly. Omaha & its zoo great! We drove 450 miles into middle Nebraska via Lincoln/Minden/Greeley/ Surprise (population 21)/etc. and back to Omaha. Gently rolling countryside was a treat; no traffic as we drove on B roads, some just graded. Met two graders in my interviews for Volume Two of Nebraska By Dummies. What a great state: totally surprising! Not dull, flat, boring at all. Their motto is: The Good Life. Everybody who is dissatisfied leaves.

  2. So you expressed interest in the naming of the river, so I thought I would provide a little insight. The river has a storied history and there many legends as to the source of the name, what follows is my favorite. As Coranado and his mens were traveling up the Llano Estacado they were dangerously close to perishing from lack of water. Local Indians guided them to a stream the feeds the river and they gave it the name for its life saving embrace. I personally think that Spanish explorers saw the Possum Kingdom area (a vast canyon with clear water flowing through it at that time) and considered the beauty so much that it must be the embrace of God.

    The river was the subject of a book, “Goodbye to a River” by John Graves. The book is an account of his solo trip down the river by canoe before multiple proposed dams on the river ruined the area forever. Most of the dams were never built, due in part to the awareness his book brought to the public about the beauty that would be lost. The book is a great read and well worth the time.

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