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Posts Tagged ‘Brazos River’

The Brazos River, Texas

Posted by graywacke on June 4, 2018

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now pretty much a once-every-five-or-seven days blog), I use an app that provides 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 or towns 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) please see “About Landing” above.  To check out some relatively changes in how I do things, check out “About Landing (Revisited).”

Landing number 2404; A Landing A Day blog post number 838.

Dan:  Today’s lat/long (29o 57.515’N, 96o 6.455’W) puts me generally in southeast Texas:

My local landing map shows that I landed “adjacent” to the Brazos River:

Two things to say here.  You’ll notice the absence of towns in my title, and the absence of towns on my landing map.  Secondly, you may be curious as to why the word “adjacent” is in quotes above.  You’ll find out shortly.

The absence of towns isn’t because I landed in a desolate, unpopulated portion of Texas.  I was just zoomed in a little too far.  So here’s a more typical local landing map:

And yes, the towns are pretty much hookless.

I certainly don’t need a local streams-only map, but here’s a regional shot showing what happens to the Brazos River:

Oh yea, before I forget, this was my 33rd hit in the Brazos River watershed.

There was no decent Google Earth (GE) Street View coverage of my landing, but I could put the Orange Dude on a bridge over the Brazos downstream from my landing:

We’ll quickly get to the bottom of the “adjacent” issue (where my landing map showed my landing adjacent to the river) by taking a look at a very local Google Earth (GE) shot of my landing:

What’s going on here?  My StreetAtlas maps and Google Earth always are in precise agreement when it comes to the location of my landing.  Well, guess what?  From a lat/long perspective, they are in precise agreement!

You can probably guess what’s going on here.  The location of the river has shifted to the south!  I landed at the outside edge of a meander, and those outside edges have a way of migrating through time.  And this movement happens not on a geologic time scale, but on a human time scale.

GE has a nifty historic aerial photo tool, which allows us to take a close look at what’s going on. The shot above is dated February 2017.  Let’s go back in time a little, to November 2015:

Hmmm.  A little closer to the bank, eh?  How about April 2012? 

Not much change.  October 2008:

Right on the edge.  But check out April 2006:

No doubt about it!  Here’s September 2003:

And finally, February 1995:

I’d say the basis of my StreetAtlas map was the river’s location back in the early 2000s.  The Brazos marks a county boundary near my landing, and the StreetAtlas map shows the boundary line right in the middle of the river.  I wonder how they handle the migrating river issue?  Does the county boundary shift, or was it defined by a years-ago river course and now follows a meandering path that doesn’t always line up with the river?

So.  Why do rivers meander?  Most references have long, esoteric discussions that I generally find tedious.  Steep valleys underlain by bedrock don’t meander; their courses are generally straighter, and may be controlled by features in the bedrock.

But streams that are in unconsolidated sediments (sand and clay) which typically have a much flatter gradient, are much freer to meander.  I think that the simplest explanation is that “nature abhors a straight line,” and the slightest bend becomes more and more extreme.

Here’s a Wiki figure showing the typical progression of a meander:

The cut-off meander in the final stage is known as an “oxbow lake.”  Here are a couple of oxbow lakes just upstream of my landing:

The outside bend of a meander (where active erosion is occurring) is known as a “cut bank.”  The inside of the bend (where sand deposition typically occurs) is known as a “point bar.”  So, while one bank is being eroded, the opposite bank is building up with new sediment.  Here’s my landing location:

And here’s a shot showing how much longer my meandering river is than a hypothetical straight version:

It’s only a matter of time before a new oxbow lake is created just west of my landing.  What’s your guess?  Fifty years from now?

And the Brazos certainly does flood (when most of the cut bank erosion occurs).  Here’s the front page of an article from the Houston Chronicle:

That’s one ugly cut bank!

While I was working on this post, I received the following text message from my daughter Willow:

“Thanks for the good night.  [She and the grand kids were over for dinner earlier that evening.]  What’s the curvy river/stream west of Harrisburg that flows into the Susquehanna?”

I had no idea why she cared about the “curvy river/stream west of Harrisburg,” but figured that she had been on Google Maps (which doesn’t label streams), and couldn’t find the name of said stream.

Well, she certainly asked the right person.  I went right to StreetAtlas, and found said curvy stream.  I texted back:

“It’s the Conodoguinet Creek.  Wow.  It meanders like crazy!”

Here ‘tis, with all of the urban trappings:

Check out all of the residential neighborhoods sitting right within the meanders.  The stream can’t flood on a regular basis!  And it’s course certainly isn’t shifting like the Brazos.  My guess is that these meanders are “entrenched.”  More about that in a minute.  But here’s a streams-only shot:

And a distance-comparison shot (straight line, about 11 miles; meandering line, about 30 miles):

From Wiki:

Conodoguinet Creek is a 104-mile-long tributary of the Susquehanna River located in the greater Harrisburg metropolitan area.   The name is Native American, and means “A Long Way with Many Bends”.

So what about “entrenched” meanders?  These are meanders that came to be when a stream is meandering lazily along (likely not very high above sea level, like the Brazos), when regional uplifting comes along, and the entire system is raised.  The meanders hang in there, but the stream begins to cut down vertically, even vertically through bedrock.  This results in much higher topography in and around the meanders (allowing development like we see west of Harrisburg).

Here’s a GE shot showing the urbanization of some of the meanders:

FYI, the land between the meanders is typically between 70 and 120 feet higher than the elevation of the adjacent stream.

In the case of the Conodoguinet, the uplift occurred many 10s of millions years ago.  Check out this GE shot:

The Conodoguinet is in the right foreground.  To the left, see how the ridges have been cut by the Susquehanna?  This is all part of the same process.  Eons ago, the ridges weren’t there; the underlying linear sandstone formation had been eroded to near sea level.  The Susquehanna (and the Conodoguinet) were also near sea level.  When the whole area was uplifted, the Susquehanna cut through the underlying formations of sandstone (creating water gaps), and the Conodoguinet cut through the underlying shale formation – leaving the meanders in place.

Any questions?  If so, check out my Nanticoke, Pennsylvania post that covers water gap formation in much more detail (type “Nanticoke” in the search box).

Phew.  All of this Pennsylvania stuff because of Willow’s somewhat random text . . .

Anyway, back to the Brazos. From Wiki:

The Brazos River, named by early Spanish explorers Rio de los Brazos de Dios (translated as “The River of the Arms of God”), is the 11th-longest river in the US at 1,280 miles from its headwater source in New Mexico down to the Gulf of Mexico.

The watershed:

And I have landed twice in the NM portion of the watershed (including my Clovis NM landing which is worth a visit or re-visit).

So how does one pronounce “Brazos?”  East Coast elitist that I am, I simply assumed BRAY-zohs.  Wrong.  I encourage you to click HERE, scroll down until you see the audio file you can click on, and listen to a local who really knows how to pronounce Brazos!

I’ll close with this GE photo from a few miles north of my landing by Houston Suburban Warrior:

That’ll do it . . .




© 2018 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

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Milano, Rockdale and (most importantly) Sandow, Texas

Posted by graywacke on September 27, 2013

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 2053; A Landing A Day blog post number 471.

 Dan –  I guess I’ll call this a trend, with my third USer in a row, thanks to this landing in the granddaddy of all USers  . . . TX; 149/180; 4/10; 11; 151.0.  Here’s my regional landing map:

 landing 1

My closer-in landing map shows a bunch of small towns.  You see that Sandow is a ways away (and not at all the closest town).  Obviously, you’ll soon find out why it received extra attention in my post title.

 landing 2

You can see the Brazos River, off to the east on the above landing map.  I landed in the watershed of Cedar Ck (not shown), which does indeed flow into the Brazos (28th hit).  You may recall that my previous two landings were both in the Sacramento R watershed, my 26th and 27th hits for the Sacramento.  The Brazos ranks 21st on my watershed hit list; the Sacramento 22nd.

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows that I landed right next to a country road.  GE StreetView?  GE StreetView?  Not meant to be . . .

 ge 1

So, of course I checked out Milano – I landed less than 5 miles away.  I also looked at Rockdale, hoping for that elusive hook.  I noticed Sandow on the map, and when I read the piece about Sandow in TexasEscapes.com, I was hooked.  Here are some excerpts:

Sandow was once called Freezeout by mule-driving freighters who passed through the area from the coast,  it seemed to cater to them with an abundance of saloons and a racetrack.

 [Wow.  Freezeout!  What a great name . . . and, it had saloons and a racetrack . . .]

The community was granted a post office in 1873 and the name of Millerton was submitted, named after solid citizen Emil Miller.  A large deposit of lignite (a low-grade brown coal) was discovered adjacent to the town.

In 1918 a six-mile rail spur was run to the lignite mine.  McAlester Fuel Company bought the mine and the entire town in 1922.  Since they “owned” the town, the executives felt that a renaming was in order.

Times being what they were, the company chose the name of a Prussian-born strongman who was being promoted in New York by Florenz Ziegfeld (later famous for the Ziegfeld Follies).  The strongman, Eugen Sandow, is considered to be the father of the modern body building culture.

 [Are you kidding me?  “Times being what they were,” they named the town after a body builder?  More about Eugen Sandow later.]

Lignite from the mine supplied the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, as well as other electric-power producers.

Natural gas became cheaper than coal and in time the mine closed.  The Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa) built a plant to take advantage of the lignite.   Aluminum processing requires a prodigious amount of electricity; the lignite was used to power their electrical generating plant.

The town evolved into a plant, but did not survive as a town. Most Alcoa employees live in nearby Rockdale.

 Here’s a current GE shot of “downtown Sandow:”

ge 2 alcoa -

 I know you couldn’t wait to here more about Eugen Sandow.  Here’s what Wiki has to say:

Eugen Sandow (1867 – 1925),  was a Prussian pioneering bodybuilder known as the “father of modern body building.”

Sandow became affiliated with Florenz Ziegfeld.  Ziegfeld the showman wanted his audiences to see Sandow’s weightlifting capabilities.

However, Ziegfeld found that the audience was more fascinated by Sandow’s bulging muscles than by the amount of weight he was lifting, so Ziegfeld had Sandow perform poses which he dubbed “muscle display performances”… and the legendary strongman added these displays in addition to performing his feats of strength with barbells.   He added chain-around-the-chest breaking and other colorful displays to Sandow’s routine.  Sandow quickly became Ziegfeld’s first star.

In 1894, Sandow featured in a short film series by the Edison Studios. The film was of only part of the show and features him flexing his muscles rather than performing any feats of physical strength.

 Click HERE to see the Edison film and remember, it was shot in 1894!

 And then there’s this in Wiki, about the “Grecian Ideal:”

Sandow’s resemblance to the physiques found on classical Greek and Roman sculpture was no accident, as he measured the statues in museums and helped to develop “The Grecian Ideal” as a formula for the “perfect physique.”

Sandow built his physique to the exact proportions of his Grecian Ideal, and is considered the father of modern bodybuilding, as one of the first athletes to intentionally develop his musculature to pre-determined dimensions.

Of course, we must have a picture of Mr. Sandow.   Quite the dude, eh?


 Moving right along . . .  here are a couple of GE Panoramio shots taken along Route 79, just north and west of my landing.  First, this by David Whitley:

 david whitley

And this, of Indian Paint Brushes (taken right in Milano) by T. George Huntzinger:

 tgeorgehuntzinger Indian paint brushes

Ozroo2 took this shot headed south out of Rockdale towards the big Alcoa plant:

 ozroo2 2

Ozroo2 also took this shot of a sunset over beautiful downtown Sandow:


 That’ll do it.




© 2013 A Landing A Day

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