Texas Hill Country

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Texas Hill Country
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View from Hill Country State Natural Area in Bandera County
656px-Texas Hill Country Map.png
Map of Texas Hill Country
Location Central Texas, United States
Coordinates 30°10′27″N99°03′55″W / 30.17417°N 99.06528°W / 30.17417; -99.06528 Coordinates: 30°10′27″N99°03′55″W / 30.17417°N 99.06528°W / 30.17417; -99.06528
Elevation300–750 m (980–2,460 ft)

The Texas Hill Country is a geographic region located in the Edwards Plateau at the crossroads of West Texas, Central Texas, and South Texas. Given its location, climate, terrain, and vegetation, the Hill Country can be considered the border between the American Southwest and Southeast.

Edwards Plateau

The Edwards Plateau is a region of west-central Texas which is bounded by the Balcones Fault to the south and east, the Llano Uplift and the Llano Estacado to the north, and the Pecos River and Chihuahuan Desert to the west. San Angelo, Austin, San Antonio and Del Rio roughly outline the area. The eastern portion of the plateau is known as the Texas Hill Country.

West Texas Region in Texas, United States

West Texas is a loosely defined part of the U.S. state of Texas, generally encompassing the arid and semiarid lands west of a line drawn between the cities of Wichita Falls, Abilene, and Del Rio.

Central Texas geographic region

Central Texas is a region in the U.S. state of Texas surrounding Austin and roughly bordered by Brady to Brenham to Seguin to Waco. Central Texas contains the Texas Hill Country and corresponds to a physiographic section designation within the Edwards Plateau, in a geographic context.

Contents

The region is notable for its karst topography and tall rugged hills of limestone or granite. [1] Many of the hills rise to a height of 400-500 feet above the surrounding plains and valleys, with Packsaddle Mountain rising to a height of 800 feet above the Llano River in Kingsland. [2] The Hill Country also includes the Llano Uplift and the second-largest granite dome in the United States, Enchanted Rock. The terrain throughout the region is punctuated by a thin layer of topsoil and a large number of exposed rocks and boulders, making the region very dry and prone to flash flooding. Native vegetation in the region includes various yucca, prickly pear cactus, desert spoon, and wildflowers in the Llano Uplift. The predominant trees in the region are ashe juniper and Texas live oak. [3]

Limestone Sedimentary rocks made of calcium carbonate

Limestone is a carbonate sedimentary rock that is often composed of the skeletal fragments of marine organisms such as coral, foraminifera, and molluscs. Its major materials are the minerals calcite and aragonite, which are different crystal forms of calcium carbonate (CaCO3). A closely related rock is dolomite, which contains a high percentage of the mineral dolomite, CaMg(CO3)2. In fact, in old USGS publications, dolomite was referred to as magnesian limestone, a term now reserved for magnesium-deficient dolomites or magnesium-rich limestones.

Granite A common type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock with granular structure

Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. Granites can be predominantly white, pink, or gray in color, depending on their mineralogy. The word "granite" comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a holocrystalline rock. Strictly speaking, granite is an igneous rock with between 20% and 60% quartz by volume, and at least 35% of the total feldspar consisting of alkali feldspar, although commonly the term "granite" is used to refer to a wider range of coarse-grained igneous rocks containing quartz and feldspar.

Packsaddle Mountain (Llano County, Texas) mountain in United States of America

Named after the saddle-like appearance provided by twin peaks, Packsaddle Mountain is a landmark hill that stands five miles southwest of Kingsland, Texas in eastern Llano County on State Highway 71 and is of interest to both historians and geologists. In 1873 it was the site of the Packsaddle Mountain Fight, the last major Native American battle in the area. The mountain is now part of a large ranch called Packsaddle Ranch.

Bound on the east by the Balcones Escarpment, the Hill Country reaches into the far northern portions of San Antonio and the western portions of Austin. As a result of springs discharging water stored in the Edwards Aquifer, several cities such as Austin, San Marcos, and New Braunfels were settled at the base of the Balcones Escarpment. The region's economy is one of the fastest growing in the United States. [4] [5]

Balcones Fault

The Balcones Fault or Balcones Fault Zone is a tensional structural system in the U.S. state of Texas that runs approximately from the southwest part of the state near Del Rio to the north central region near Dallas along Interstate 35. The Balcones Fault zone is made up of many smaller features, including normal faults, grabens, and horsts. One of the obvious features is the Mount Bonnell Fault.

San Antonio City in Texas, United States

San Antonio, officially the City of San Antonio, is the seventh-most populous city in the United States, and the second-most populous city in both Texas and the Southern United States, with more than 1.5 million residents. Founded as a Spanish mission and colonial outpost in 1718, the city became the first chartered civil settlement in present-day Texas in 1731. The area was still part of the Spanish Empire, and later of the Mexican Republic. Today it is the state's oldest municipality.

Austin, Texas Capital of Texas

Austin is the capital of the U.S. state of Texas and the seat of Travis County, with portions extending into Hays and Williamson counties. It is the 11th-most populous city in the United States and the 4th-most populous city in Texas. It is also the fastest growing large city in the United States, the second most populous state capital after Phoenix, Arizona, and the southernmost state capital in the contiguous United States. As of the U.S. Census Bureau's July 1, 2017 estimate, Austin had a population of 950,715 up from 790,491 at the 2010 census. The city is the cultural and economic center of the Austin–Round Rock metropolitan statistical area, which had an estimated population of 2,168,316 as of July 1, 2018. Located in Central Texas within the greater Texas Hill Country, it is home to numerous lakes, rivers, and waterways, including Lady Bird Lake and Lake Travis on the Colorado River, Barton Springs, McKinney Falls, and Lake Walter E. Long.

Counties included

According to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the following 25 counties are included in the Hill Country Wildlife District: [6]

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) is a Texas state agency that oversees and protects wildlife and their habitats. In addition, the agency is responsible for managing the state's parks and historical areas. Its mission is to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of Texas and to provide hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

History and politics

During the American Civil War, due to its large, pro-Union, German immigrant population, the Texas Hill Country was opposed to Texas seceding from the Union. [7] Subsequently, in the three quarters of a century following Reconstruction, the core of the Hill Country generally provided the solitary support base for the Republican Party in what became a one-party Democratic state.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

Union (American Civil War) United States national government during the American Civil War

During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the Union, also known as the North, referred to the United States of America and specifically to the national government of President Abraham Lincoln and the 20 free states and four border and slave states that supported it. The Union was opposed by 11 southern slave states that formed the Confederate States of America, also known as "the Confederacy" or "the South".

Even when there were no Republicans in the Texas Legislature during the 1930s and 1940s, Gillespie and Kendall Counties backed every Republican Presidential nominee barring Herbert Hoover’s failed 1932 re-election campaign, and Republicans continued to control local government. Guadalupe and Comal Counties were less Republican, but still did not vote for Democratic nominees outside the 1912, 1932, 1936 and 1964 landslides. The region was also the only one in antebellum slave states to back the insurgent candidacy of Robert La Follette in 1924: in fact Comal was La Follette’s top county in the nation with 73.96 percent of the vote, and it and Gillespie were the only counties south of the Mason-Dixon Line to give a plurality to his “Progressive” ticket.

Texas Legislature

The Legislature of the state of Texas is the state legislature of Texas. The legislature is a bicameral body composed of a 31-member Senate and a 150-member House of Representatives. The state legislature meets at the Capitol in Austin. It is a powerful arm of the Texas government not only because of its power of the purse to control and direct the activities of state government and the strong constitutional connections between it and the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, but also due to Texas's plural executive.

Gillespie County, Texas County in the United States

Gillespie County is a county located on the Edwards Plateau in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 24,837. The county seat is Fredericksburg. It is located in the heart of the Texas Hill Country. Gillespie is named for Robert Addison Gillespie, a soldier in the Mexican–American War.

Kendall County, Texas County in the United States

Kendall County is a county located on the Edwards Plateau in the U.S. state of Texas. In 2010 census, its population was 33,410. Its county seat is Boerne. The county is named for George Wilkins Kendall, a journalist and Mexican–American War correspondent.

Geography

Because of its karst topography, the area also features a number of caverns, such as Inner Space Caverns, Natural Bridge Caverns, Bracken Cave, Longhorn Cavern State Park, Cascade Caverns, Caverns of Sonora and Cave Without a Name. The deeper caverns of the area form several aquifers which serve as a source of drinking water for the residents of the area. Wonder Cave in San Marcos was formed by an earthquake along the Balcones Fault.

Several tributaries of the Colorado River of Texas — including the Llano and Pedernales rivers, which cross the region west to east and join the Colorado as it cuts across the region to the southeast – drain a large portion of the Hill Country. The Guadalupe, San Antonio, Frio, Medina, and Nueces rivers originate in the Hill Country.

This region is a dividing line for certain species occurrence. For example, the California Fan Palm ( Washingtonia filifera ) is the only species of palm tree that is native to the continental United States west of the Hill Country's Balcones Fault. [8]

The region has hot summers, particularly in July and August, and even the nighttime temperatures remain high, as the elevation is modest despite the hilly terrain. Winter temperatures are sometimes[ specify ] as much as ten degrees cooler than in other parts of Texas to the east.[ citation needed ]

The area is also unique[ citation needed ] for its fusion of Spanish and German influences in food, beer, architecture, and music that form a distinctively "Texan" culture separate from the state's Southern and Southwestern influences. [1] For example, the accordion was popularized in Tejano music in the 19th century due to cultural exposure to German settlers.

Devil's Backbone is an elevated, winding stretch of Route 32 between San Marcos and Wimberley, continuing through Blanco, that has long been the subject of ghost stories. [9] Folklore about it appeared in a 1996 episode of NBC's Robert Stack anthology series Unsolved Mysteries , featuring apparitional Spanish monks, Comanche as well as Lipan Apache tribes, Confederate soldiers on their horses, and a spirit of a wolf. It later re-aired when this series was hosted by Dennis Farina.

The region has emerged as the center of the Texas wine industry.[ citation needed ] Three American Viticultural Areas are located in the areas: Texas Hill Country AVA, Fredericksburg in the Texas Hill Country AVA, and Bell Mountain AVA.

The Hill Country is also known for its tourism. In 2008, The New York Times listed the Hill Country in an article about North American vacation destinations. [10] Hill Country has also made Texas second to Florida as the most popular retirement destination in the United States. The region has attracted Baby Boomers as they near retirement age. [11]

Frederick Day, a demographer with Texas State University, said that the Hill Country life-style reminds one of the small towns of the recent past. "Like old America . . . [the] cost of living is pretty low. To people who have spent their work life in Houston or Dallas, the Hill Country is very attractive." [11]

Notable people

See also

Related Research Articles

Williamson County, Texas County in the United States

Williamson County is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2016 census estimate, the population was 545,412. Its county seat is Georgetown. The county is named for Robert McAlpin Williamson (1804?–1859), a community leader and a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto.

Fredericksburg, Texas City in Texas, United States

Fredericksburg is the seat of Gillespie County, in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 Census, the city had a population of 10,530.

Enchanted Rock mountain

Enchanted Rock is a pink granite mountain located in the Llano Uplift approximately 17 miles (27 km) north of Fredericksburg, Texas and 24 miles (39 km) south of Llano, Texas, United States. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, which includes Enchanted Rock and surrounding land, spans the border between Gillespie County and Llano County, south of the Llano River. Enchanted Rock covers approximately 640 acres (260 ha) and rises approximately 425 feet (130 m) above the surrounding terrain to elevation of 1,825 feet (556 m) above sea level. It is the largest pink granite monadnock in the United States. Enchanted Rock State Natural Area, a part of the Texas state park system, includes 1,644 acres (665 ha). Designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1936. In 1971, Enchanted Rock was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

Luckenbach, Texas Place in Texas, United States

Luckenbach is an unincorporated community thirteen miles (19 km) from Fredericksburg in southeastern Gillespie County, Texas, United States, part of the Texas Hill Country. Luckenbach is known as a venue for country music.

Medina Valley, also known as the Medina River Valley, is an area in south central Texas containing the Medina River, Lake Medina, and the Medina Dam. It serves to drain the Balcones Escarpment of the Texas Hill Country and irrigate the farms contained therein. It is approximately 120 miles long and is named for the Medina River.

Medina River river in the United States of America

The Medina River is located in south central Texas, United States, in the Medina Valley. It was also known as the Rio Mariano, Rio San Jose, or Rio de Bagres. Its source is in springs in the Edwards Plateau in northwest Bandera County, Texas and merges with the San Antonio River in southern Bexar County, Texas, for a course of 120 miles. It contains the Medina Dam in NE Medina County, Texas which restrains Lake Medina. Much of its course is owned and operated by the Bexar-Medina-Atascosa Water District to provide irrigation services to farmers and ranches.

Comal Springs (Texas) spring in Texas, United States of America

Comal Springs are the largest concentration of naturally occurring freshwater springs in Texas. They are located in the city of New Braunfels and are the result of water percolating through the Edwards Aquifer formation.

The Texas Coastal Bend, or just the Coastal Bend, is a geographical region in the US state of Texas. The name refers to the area being a curve along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The largest city of the Coastal Bend is Corpus Christi. It includes part of Laguna Madre and North Padre Island, as well as Mustang Island.

Cibolo Creek stream

Cibolo Creek is a stream in South Central Texas, United States that runs approximately 96 miles (154 km) from its source at Turkey Knob near Boerne, Texas, to its confluence with the San Antonio River in Karnes County. The creek serves as a tributary of the San Antonio River and forms the easternmost boundary of its watershed.

Geography of Texas

The geography of Texas is diverse and large. Occupying about 7% of the total water and land area of the U.S., it is the second largest state after Alaska, and is the southernmost part of the Great Plains, which end in the south against the folded Sierra Madre Oriental of Mexico. Texas is in the south-central part of the United States of America, and is considered to form part of the U.S. South and also part of the U.S. Southwest.

San Marcos Springs

San Marcos Springs is the second largest natural cluster of springs in Texas. The springs are located in the city of San Marcos, Texas, about 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Austin and 46 miles (74 km) northeast of San Antonio.

Salado Springs spring in Texas, United States of America

Salado Springs is the name of five groups of springs at the town of Salado in Bell County, Texas, in the United States. The springs are located 48 miles (77 km) north of Austin or 135 miles (217 km) south of Dallas.

Greater Austin Metropolitan area in Texas, United States

Austin–Round Rock is a five-county metropolitan area in the U.S. state of Texas, as defined by the Office of Management and Budget. Commonly referred to as Greater Austin, the metropolitan area is situated in Central Texas on the eastern edge of the American Southwest, and borders San Antonio–New Braunfels to the south.

<i>Lewis & Clark</i> (TV series) television series

Lewis & Clark is an American sitcom that aired on NBC for one season from October 29, 1981 to July 30, 1982. The series stars Gabe Kaplan and Guich Koock.

Luckenbach School (Gillespie County, Texas)

Luckenbach School is a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and on the National Register of Historic Places Listing. It is located at 3566 Luckenbach Rd. in Gillespie County, Texas. In 1964, the school was consolidated with Fredericksburg Independent School District. The building is now used as a community center.

Fredericksburg Memorial Library library in former courthouse building

The Fredericksburg Memorial Library, also known as the Pioneer Memorial Library or the Old Courthouse, is located at 115 W. Main Street, Fredericksburg, Gillespie County, in the U.S. state of Texas. Designed by Alfred Giles, it was built in 1882 to replace the original 1855 courthouse, and was later superseded by the current 1939 courthouse designed by Edward Stein. The first floor houses the Pioneer Memorial Library, while the second floor functions as community hall. It is often called the McDermott Building because of the 1967 and 1984 restorations funded by Mr. & Mrs. Eugene McDermott. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971, and was designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark in 1967.

References

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  2. Google Earth Terrain Data
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  7. ‘6 Unionist Strongholds in the South during the Civil War’
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