Sunday, March 31, 2013

In and Around Junction, Texas

I've always enjoyed Junction, Texas. But then, I like small towns; after all, I grew up in a small town.

I consider Junction to be on the western edge of the Hill Country, though a clear definition of the boundaries of this area differ from person to person. But it does have many of what I consider Hill Country landmarks: hilly country, limestone cliffs, spring-fed streams, a ranching culture, and lots of wildlife, among others.

The population of the town is approaching 4,000, and there are various types of accommodation available for visitors. I've always found the restaurants to be quite good -- nothing fancy, mind you, but just solid good food with BBQ, Mexican, and fast food available. Boating, swimming, and fishing are popular on both the North and South Llano Rivers, which merge in Junction, thus giving the town its name. Hunting is also a major attraction. Several major highways merge in Junction, including Interstate 10, US Highway 83, and US Highway 377.

Loop 481 bridge crossing the South Llano River on the east side of downtown Junction. Picture taken from a scenic overlook just east of the river along Loop 481.
Junction is also home to Texas Tech University at Junction. I suspect this 410 acre campus on the banks of the South Llano River was formerly the site of the Texas A&M campus where Coach Bear Bryant held his infamous training camp in 1954. The group of men be coached there became known as the "Junction Boys", and the training camp is an interesting study in former methods of training football players. A TV movie, The Junction Boys, starring Tom Berenger, was made of this incident in 2002.

Entrance to Texas Tech University at Junction

Junction has a lovely city park on both banks of the South Llano River near downtown just before it merges with the North Llano River. It's a great place to spend the day and is within walking distance of downtown and the Kimble County Historical Museum.

Dam on South Llano River near downtown Junction. Bridge in picture above is same as in first picture. Park area is on both sides of river, and downtown is in background near water tower.
If you enjoy scenic drives, take US 377 south of Junction for about 20 or 25 miles. The highway passes South Llano River State Park, then continues to parallel the river with a couple of low-water crossings where canoeists can put in for a leisurely float down the river. The highway leads to the small community of Rocksprings, then eventually to Del Rio and the Rio Grande at the crossing into Old Mexico at Ciudad Acuna.

South Llano River winds through limestone hills near a ranch.
South Llano River south of Junction
One of two low-water crossings over the South Llano River south of Junction.

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