Central Texas used to be the same way. The Eastern Cross Timbers ended here in Waco, and the local natives at a Wichita(spelling wrong) village named Quiscat from around 1782 used to float pine trees down Aquila Creek to the Brazos River to work them into boats for trade purposes. The only pine trees you see within 60 miles of here now are ones germinated by people in the last 50 years.
The early 1900's and especially the Great Depression took it's toll on the local tree population, as they were cut down for firewood and building material, or just burned for the purpose of land clearing. People visit the area around Waco and think that it has always been flat and full of mesquite trees, but it used to be a dense forest of oaks, pine, and those tall straight cedars that you see mainly in the lower mountains of North Carolina now. There are a few old-growth patches of oak trees with giant canopies of grapevines that you can still walk across,(60ft. in the air) for a mile or so. When you look at them and imagine what it looked like around here 150 years ago, it makes you wonder how explorers or even any wagon trains ever made it through here.
Texas isn't desolate, people made it seem that way. As far as the mesquites that we seem to be known for, the majority of them are one or two species that have traveled here from Mexico in the last 150 years following the removal of the local tree population. Those are like a weed, you can't kill them and they smother everything else. The previous species of mesquites had to deal with growing tall to receive any sun at all.
One of the coolest trees I've ever seen was a black mesquite that was taller than any pecan or live oak tree around it. It had black sap running all down the trunk and thorns on it from top to base that were around a foot long with thorns several inches long coming off of those. It looked to be about 100 ft. tall, maybe more. I think it could have been the state record, but was buried way off in the woods where I was wheedling at and I doubt anyone has ever seen it or realized what they were actually looking at. It kept anything from growing under it for some reason and had been there long enough to build up a layer of long thorns on the ground under it's canopy that was very dangerous to walk around on. If anyone knows what the actual name of this rare tree was, write me back. I've never seen another and I've been in the woods all of my life.
posted on 08/02/2006 8:18:16 AM PDT
(It's never too late to be what you might have been....George Elliot)
...it used to be a dense forest of oaks, pine, and those tall straight cedars...
Indeed! Although there is still enough pine pollen floating around to interfere with my daughter's voice when she was studying music at Baylor U! She had to take allergy shots for it! LOL.
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