Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Backroads Tour: Water Valley and Robert Lee

Restlessness was settling in again, so the old woman and I jumped in the truck today for another backroads tour. This time we went north.

We started by taking FM 2288 (the road that fronts RCW) north to Grape Creek, then US 87 north to Water Valley. Water Valley is a small community in the north part of Tom Green County. The school there is always in the news as they produce some fine athletic teams in all sports. I'm not sure how they perform academically. There isn't much else in the community except a convenience store and a post office.

We turned west on Hwy 2304 for a few miles. There is a county park there along the North Concho River called Harper Park. It's a lovely setting for a park, with towering pecan trees and nice grass. There are several RV hookups within the park, which is popular with Water Valley residents.

Looking upstream at the North Concho River from the bridge on Hwy 2304

Pecan trees and grass in lovely Harper Park along the North Concho River, just west of Water Valley.
We then turned around, headed east, and crossed US 87, staying on Hwy 2304 towards Robert Lee. About halfway along the highway, we came across the historical marker below.

Shelving Rock Historical Marker on Hwy 2304

After returning home, I researched Shelving Rock but found very little. The site interests me because of the last sentence on the marker: "There Rangers, state militia, and a posse of settlers hunting horses and Indians rendezvoused a few nights prior to disastrous battle of Dove Creek, Jan. 8, 1865." The Battle of Dove Creek is one of the more interesting battles in Texas history, but few people have ever heard of it. To learn more about this "battle", consult the Handbook of Texas Online. I first learned of the battle while reading an Elmer Kelton novel. I believe the novel was Stand Proud.

A few miles past the marker, the highway falls away, offering a great view to the north. The photos below really don't do justice to the view.

Upon spotting the drop off, I parked the truck and crossed the highway to snap this photo.
As we were driving down the slope, Donna commented that this section reminded her a little of the Davis Mountains.
It's rugged country out there.

Just a short distance beyond this slope, we turned north on Paint Creek Road. This county road cuts through to intersect Hwy 158.

Not much water in Paint Creek, but any water is good water in the west.
At Hwy 158, we turned west for perhaps a quarter mile to Dripping Springs Road. We turned north on this road, then a hundred yards later, we turned west over a cattle guard. Almost immediately on our right, we came upon Dripping Springs. This is basically a grotto. The picture below is only a small part of the ledge. I tried taking pictures of the other areas, but I was looking directly into the sun so they were distorted. Where I was standing when taking the picture, water runs over the ledge. I suppose there is a spring just upstream a bit.

Dripping Springs
I like discovering these places in our area. Of course, native Americans knew most of these places. For them, they were life-saving sights. As soldiers and pioneers began entering this area, they also discovered these places.

We turned around, got back on the highway (158), and headed east towards Robert Lee. We began seeing good stands of bluebonnets and other flowers along the highway right of way as well as in pastures.

Beautiful stand of bluebonnets in a pasture, with a nice backdrop of hills.
Close up of bluebonnets
In Robert Lee, we took Hwy 1904 towards the dam of R. V. Spence Reservoir. At the top of the dam, I took the picture below of the lake. This poor lake has never recovered from the drought. Although it has some water in it, it is a long way from fully recovering. At present, it is at 14% capacity.

E V Spence Reservoir, near Robert Lee, Texas
Back in town, we drove around the downtown area before heading south on Hwy 208 to return to San Angelo.

Coke County, Courthouse -- Robert Lee, Texas

Downtown Robert Lee, Texas
About 5 years ago, we drove around this area one spring after learning this was one of the better places in our area to view wild flowers. I wrote a blog entry entitled "Coke County Wildflowers" if you'd care to look back at it. Since it dealt with the drive along Hwy 208, I will not repeat that section of our trip here.

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