Thursday, October 6, 2016

Copper Breaks State Park (Texas), October 2016

This is the first time Donna and I have been to Copper Break State Park. It has been on my bucket list for quite a while because of the historical significance of this area.

Headquarters for Copper Breaks State Park

Copper Breaks is in northwest Texas, in Hardeman County. It is located between the small towns of Quanah and Crowell just off Texas 6. It consists of 1,898.8 acres, and is bordered on the south by the Pease River, a tributary of the Red River. Fishing and boating are available on Lake Copper Breaks. About 10 miles of trails are available, including 3.5 miles of equestrian trails. A portion of the Texas Longhorn Herd is located within the park as well.

One of the exhibits in the park's Visitor's Center.

Lake Copper Breaks from a ridge to the west.

Lake Copper Breaks from a ridge to the east. Note spillway on left and fishing piers bottom center.

Boat ramp at the north end of the lake, along the feeder creek.

Fishing pier

For camping, there are 24 sites in the Comanche Camping Area with 30 and 50 amp electrical as well as water. Sewer is not available at sites, but a dump station is located next to the restrooms/showers. Equestrian and primitive camping sites are also available within the park.

Site #9. Note the unique picnic table cover to play upon the Native American theme.

Restrooms/showers in the campground.

Road through our campground shortly after our arrival. By nightfall, there would be 2 or 3 more rigs within this shot.

The sites in the RV campground are rather bare. We camped in site #9, and were unable to get good shade even with the awning out, because of the angle of the site. There are few trees in the campground itself of size to provide shade. The restrooms/showers were in decent repair, but they did not seem to be maintained on a regular basis. In fact, we did not see a host, or even what might pass for a host site, in the campground. The park had numerous visitors during our stay, and our campground eventually had nearly half occupancy. That's not bad for a rural park off the main highways during the week. And one great advantage of that rural location is the clear view of all those beautiful stars in that darkened night sky.

Park employees do a good job of keeping the grass mown. It seems that restrooms are cleaned early each day, around 8 or 9. We were bothered by the aggressive flies, including some horse flies, at our campsite. And dog owners won't like the stickers that abound at most sites. There was no WiFi available in our campground (Comanche Camping Area), and our At&Texas signal was very weak.

This area was important to native Americans, especially Comanches and Kiowas. Just to the east of the park is Medicine Mounds, a series of 4 dolomite hills rising about 350 feet above the surrounding area. Native Americans believed them to be sacred, a place of powerful spirits with curative powers and other traits. Today, the mounds are on private property.

Medicine Mounds, North of the Pease River.

Almost directly south of the Medicine Mounds is the site of the Battle of Pease River. On December 18, 1860, along the south bank of the Pease River, a group of militia and Texas Rangers under the leadership of Sul Ross attacked a Comanche village. Although most of the Indians were able to escape, the battle had two noteworthy outcomes. First,the rangers recaptured Cynthia Anne Parker, who had been taken by the Comanches in 1836 at the age of 9 from her family's home near Groesbeck, Texas. Second, the rangers believed that they had killed Peta Nocona, a leading Comanche chief and husband of Cynthia Anne. As regards Peta Nocona's death, I've never been fully convinced that he was killed at this battle. His son, Quanah (Cynthia Anne's oldest child) always claimed that he died later on. So we have differing views on that issue. As regards Cynthia Anne, she was returned to life among her white family, but never adjusted. Less than 4 years after her recapture, Cynthia Anne's daughter, Topsona, died from pneumonia. Cynthia Anne herself died in 1871. Her 44 or so years on earth were filled with great heartbreak and suffering. First she was torn away from her white family amid great violence. Over time, though, she became Comanche and came to love that way of life. After her recapture, she tried repeatedly to return to the Comanches to see her sons again. So her final years were spent in more suffering.

Historical marker at site of Pease River Battlefield, where Cynthia Anne Parker was "rescued" by Texas Rangers and militia led by Sul Ross.

Pease River Battlefield is at the end of this road, where the trees are. The Pease River is just beyond that. Note the Medicine Mounds on the horizon to the left.

Parker exhibit in the Copper Breaks SP Visitor Center.

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