Monday, December 8, 2014

On the Road: San Angelo, TX, to Fredericksburg, TX, and Back

On our recent trip to Fredericksburg and back, we made a number of stops. I'll share some of them in this entry, and then have another entry in a few days for a separate stop.

The entire trip was right at 300 miles. I like short trips you can make on a single tank of fuel.
From San Angelo, we headed east on US 87 through the small community of Wall and an area known as Lipan Flats. This is a rich farming area, and cotton was nearing the end of its harvesting season. There were still a few fields awaiting harvest, though. As we neared Eden, we passed one of the nicer rest areas with restrooms in the state. If you happen to travel this way, keep it in mind; it's a good place to take a break.

We continued on 87 through Eden. About 15 miles or so east of Eden, we turned off the main road onto FM 2028. About a mile south of 87 is the small town of Melvin. San Angelo has been working on a pipeline to the Hickory Aquifer for the past several years. The aquifer is located in the Melvin area, so I was interested in this little town. Sadly, there is not much left here. It once must have been a thriving town, though, as several old, crumbling buildings front what must have been a square or town green area.

Old buildings in Melvin, facing the old town square area.
Another side of the town square in Melvin, with more deserted buildings.
Back in the day when towns were more self-reliant and people traveled less, towns like Melvin were hubs of activity. I've always been partial to these little forgotten places. As boys, my brother and I spent a lot of time in the dwindling town of Kirvin (sometimes spelled Kirven) in East Texas, where my grandmother lived and where my mother grew up. Today, there is very little that remains of that town, but at one time it was a prominent place, even rivaling the larger towns in the county.

But let's get back to US 87 and continue on. As we neared Brady, the town that bills itself as the Heart of Texas (and it is near the geographic center of the state), we detoured again, this time onto FM 3022, which would take us along the north shore and then dam of Brady Lake. As long as we've lived in West Texas, I had never seen the lake and wanted to take a look. After all, there aren't that many lakes in West Texas. Like other lakes in West Texas, this one is way down.

West end of Brady Lake

Dam of Brady Lake
Main body of Brady Lake

Deer near shore of Brady Lake. We must have seen about a dozen, and none ran from us.
We left the lake and continued on into Brady, where we rejoined US 87 and continued south through Mason and on to Fredericksburg.

On our return trip, we detoured past old Fort Mason in Mason. The fort, established in 1851, saw many notable military leaders grace its grounds during its short life, including Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston. It was finally abandoned in 1870. There is only one building that remains today, a reconstruction of officers' quarters. It is located atop a hill on the south edge of town, and it provides a great view in all directions.

The reconstructed officers' quarters at Fort Mason. You can get an idea of the view if you look out to the side of the building.
View of downtown Mason, including the courthouse in right of picture, from the hill at Fort Mason.
Mason is one of those towns I hope to explore more fully one day. There is a museum downtown. Old homes dot the town, many built by skilled German stone masons. RVers should check Fort Mason RV Park for a nice little RV park. It is on the south edge of town and is operated by the city. A golf course lies next to the RV park.

From Mason, we turned west on Texas 29 to go to Menard, where we stopped to tour the Presidio San Saba. I'll write about that in my next entry.

From Menard, we took US 83 north to Eden and then hopped back on US 87 to head home to San Angelo. By the way, US 83 has had numerous improvements since the last time we were on that highway. From Eden to the Concho/Menard County line, the highway has been 4 lane for years, but south of there on to Menard it has been two lane. However, it is now 4 lanes for 2 or 3 miles north of Menard, and then the rest has been upgraded with various passing lanes. It's a good highway, especially if you are in an RV of some sort.

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