A Landing a Day

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Iraan, Ozona and Big Lake, Texas

Posted by graywacke on October 18, 2015

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-three-or-four days 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 2219; A Landing A Day blog post number 647.

Dan:  Since changing my “random” lat/long generator to a truly random lat/long generator, (look back to my Grand Rapids post), I have landed in MI, then IA (both OSers) and now . . . TX (long-time USer).  Maybe after 50 landings or so with my new random landings, I’ll start doing some statistics . . .

Anyway, here’s my regional landing map:

landing 1

And my not-so-local landing map:

landing 2

I needed Google Earth (GE) for my watershed analysis, so I’ll jump right into to my GE spaceflight in to West Texas (click on link, then hit “back” after viewing):


Before I worry about my watershed, let’s take a look at a static GE shot of my landing:

GE 1

You can see the grid pattern, with four grid-lines every half mile.  What the heck?  It looks like the brush / scrub has been cleared along surveyed grid lines.  I’ll zoom back a little more:

GE 2

Wow – they cover a large area.  OK, OK, I’ll zoom back some more:

GE 3

Well, we’re in an oil field (no surprise there), but it looks like the grids have nothing to do with oil.  What the . . . ?

Let’s look way closer:

GE 4


A little bit south of my landing, I found an E-W road with Street View coverage that intersects several of these N-S grid lines.  Here’s one of the grid lines heading north up the hill:

GE SV gridline

See?  They’re real!  Someone actually cleared miles and miles of gridlines!  I’ve never seen anything like this.  A google search tells me nothing.  I can only assume it had something to do with a long-ago oil-drilling plan, when wells were drilled much closer together . . . .

In fact, I found this GE shot posted by John McFarland in his blog entitled “Oil and Gas Lawyer Blog.”  This is a shot in far west Texas, and you can see that wells were much closer spaced, and on a grid pattern:


Enough about oil and gas already.  Moving on to my watershed analysis.  My streams-only Street Atlas map showed me nothing about local streams.  But using GE, I saw a north-south stream bed that passed under I-10.  I used GE Street View (SV) to take a look at the stream.  Check this out:

GE SV howard draw at I-10

Some wonderful highway sign guy put up the sign that let me know that I landed in the watershed of Howard Draw.  I positioned the orange dude on the bridge, and took a look upstream:

GE SV howard draw at I-10 (2)

Here’s a GE shot showing Howard Draw making its way past Howard Spring, on its way to the Pecos River (16th hit):

GE map howard draw

Here’s a streams-only map showing that the Pecos makes its way to the Rio Grande (44th hit):

landing 3


Believe it or not, Howard Springs (which doesn’t even exist any more, as you’ll see) actually has a Wiki page.  Here are some excerpts:

Howard Springs was an important watering hole for Native Americans in the dry country between Devils River and the Pecos River and later was the only reliable water on a 44-mile stretch of the San Antonio-El Paso Road.

Its early appearance was described by Robert A. Eccleston, one of a party of forty-niners traveling with the U. S. Army expedition that established the San Antonio-El Paso Road in 1849. In Eccleston’s diary of that trip he writes about the spring where they camped on August 2–3, 1849:

“The water…where we took it from, it was impregnated with vegetable matters that it was hardly fit to drink.”

“The hills that surrounded this valley are all nearly the same height & uniformly flat, upon the top. This place had formerly been a great Indian rendezvous, as bones of all kinds of beasts were strewn about.”

A favorite living place, native tribes fought bitterly to control these springs, killing many teamsters and settlers in the vicinity as late as 1872.

Later, local ranchers overgrazed the region, killing off the formerly abundant ground cover, thereby increasing the volume of runoff which then washed gravel into the springs and filled them up, and changing the course of the stream bed. Seeps still emerge beneath the surface of a nearby 200-meter-long pond in Howard Draw. Oilfield drilling recently has contaminated this water.

So, we screwed up this spring, didn’t we?

Anyway, this will end up being one of those a-little-bit-of-this-and-a-little-bit-of-that kind of posts.  Based on my local landing map, you can that I had six or seven towns to check out.  Well, as one might expect, most of them were hookless.  But I was fascinated as to just how the town of Iraan got its name.  From TexasExcapes.com (History in Pecan Shell):

The name has nothing to do with the country of Iran. Oil was discovered on the ranch of Ira Yates and a contest was held to name the town that would soon materialize. Ira’s wife was named Ann. A woman (Mary Louise Lewis Hardgrave) combined the two names [although she dropped an “n”] and won a town lot as a prize.  She later sold the lot for $1,000.

Wow.  A thousand bucks for what seems like a so-so name.  No offense, but I would have kept the extra “n” –  Iraann.

The Texas Escapes article included this photo of a sign for a carwash in Iraan:


All of you Spanish-speakers are laughing already.  For you non Spanish-speakers, Mejor Que Nada means “Better Than Nothing.”  Hey, for 50 cents, what do you expect?

Moving along to Ozona.  From Wiki, about this strange name:

Ozona was known as “Powell Well”, after land surveyor E.M. Powell, when it was founded in 1891. In 1897, it was renamed “Ozona” for the high quantity of its open air, or “ozone”.

Say what?  Since when is ozone a “high quantity of open air?”  Here’s some of what Wiki has to say about ozone:

Ozone, or trioxygen, is an inorganic molecule with the chemical formula O3. It is a pale blue gas with a distinctively pungent smell. Ozone is formed from stable atmospheric oxygen (dioxygen) by the action of ultraviolet light and also atmospheric electrical discharges, and is present in low concentrations throughout the Earth’s atmosphere. In total, ozone makes up only 0.6 ppm of the atmosphere.

But hey!  Ozone stinks!  In fact, according to Dictionary.com, the word “ozone” is derived from the Greek ozon, meaning “to smell.” 

But Wiki goes on to say:

For much of the second half of the nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, ozone was considered a healthy component of the environment by naturalists and health-seekers. Beaumont, California had as its official slogan “Beaumont: Zone of Ozone,” as evidenced on postcards and Chamber of Commerce letterhead.  Also, the town of Ozone, Tennessee was so named because of its excellent air quality.

All right, moving along to Big Lake.  From Wiki:

The city takes its name from a dry lake located less than two miles south of the city. The dry lake holds water temporarily and only after high runoff rain events.  It is used for cattle grazing the remainder of the time.

Here’s a GE shot of the town and lake, showing that Route 137 actually crosses the lake (outlined in blue by yours truly): 

GE big lake

Here’s a wet-weather Panoramio shot taken from the roadway (by doning):

pano doning

Here’s a prettier Pano shot of a small part of the lake by EvansJohnC:

pano evansjohnc

And then there’s this Pano shot by CWoods of a sign along the road:

pano cwoods

You gotta love it!

I’ll close with this lovely Pano shot of the Pecos River (by JDeppa), just below where Howard Draw comes in (in fact, the little embayment in the river bank to the right just might be where the Draw discharges):

pano jdeppa pecos near howard draw

That’ll do it . . .




© 2015 A Landing A Day




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