Friday, June 24, 2016

Benbrook Bound

View of Fort Worth from a hill in Benbrook
Ah, Benbrook, the mystique, the allure, the romance; where you might meet a handsome stranger and have all of your dreams come true. Particularly in the summer and particularly if you’re a young teenager just entering the age for dating – or at least that’s how it seemed way back then. Lake Benbrook was where all the ‘with-it’ teens went to watch the submarine races; it was every parent’s nightmare. Throughout the years the lake has been low enough that the boat ramps were closed because they didn’t reach the water; that’s not true this year

The city of Benbrook is in the southwestern corner of Tarrant County, and a suburb of Fort
Lake Benbrook in flood stage
Worth. Its origins came from Peter’s Colony, with Edward and Nancy Wilburn among the first settlers. They helped to construct one of the first buildings that held a church, school and meeting hall; time and the Civil War caused this building to fall into disuse. In about 1880, Marinda, the daughter of the Wilburns, donated five acres for use as a school; it was named for her and the neighborhood around it became known as Marinda. Four years prior, James M. Benbrook and his family came to this community. He was a veteran of the Civil War, on the Union side, but became a prominent farmer and landowner. Through his efforts, the owners of the Texas and Pacific railroad were convinced to establish a depot near the Miranda. As with many of the small Texas towns, the construction of a depot put the community on the map and later in 1880 the railroad changed the name of the town to honor Benbrook.

Benbrook has been home to several notables, including Winfield Scott, the cattle baron, and Elliott Roosevelt, son of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Carruthers Field, a World War
Horses near Dutch Branch Ranch,
home of Elliott Roosevelt
I airfield, housed Captain Vernon Castle, an internationally known dancer (along with his wife, Irene), and flying instructor. And in World War II, Convair (once named General Dynamics and now Lockheed Martin, see Wandering to White Settlement) built its famous bomber plant in the area. However, it wasn’t until after a flood in 1949 that Benbrook finally incorporated and the Corps of Engineers began building Benbrook Lake. And this was what brought romance to teenagers and angst to parents.

Benbrook Lake is on the Clear Fork of the Trinity River, impounded by the Benbrook Dam.
Storm over Lake Benbrook
This flood control project was a long time coming, since significant flooding had occurred during May 1908, April 1922 and September 1936. The River & Harbors Act of 1945 authorized this project and several others for to control flooding and make waterways navigable. At one time it was believed that the entire length of the Trinity River could be turned into a shipping channel. Construction of the dam began in May 1947 with the floodgates closed in September 1952. Although it was supposed to take many years to fill the reservoir (expected flood stage about every 40 years), the spring rains in 1957 added the 80% volume the lake needed to reach its normal conservation pool elevation and by May 26 flood waters were sliding over the 710-foot (220 m) spillway. The floodgates were opened that day and not closed until June 21; the lake finally fell to its normal level on July 4th. Waters didn’t reach the spillway elevation again until 1989. Floods in 1990 closed all the parks and recreation areas on Benbrook Lake for almost all of those two years. Currently the water is about nine feet above normal (full) and with our very wet spring has put some of the recreational areas under water. Right now we’re fussing about the amount of rain we’re getting, but after a ten-year drought we ought to be thankful the ground water is re-charging and the lakes are full. And yes, right now it’s too much of a good thing; you can’t even see the submarines.

Benbrook, itself, has a whole host of places to eat along US Highway 377. Most are chains; we chose to grab lunch at one of the oldest chain restaurants in the area. For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.
Three carrots
Pulido's Mexican Restaurant (5051 US-377, Fort Worth, TX 76116, 817-732-7871) is
Left T to B: Menu, Flautas
Right T to B: Chips, Enchilada, Cheese taco
actually just inside the Benbrook city limits. It’s still family owned after 40 years in business and probably still using the same recipes. This is one of the oldest restaurants in the chain but the facilities are in good shape. Dave had chicken flautas with guacamole, rice and beans. He’d have liked some more chicken in the flautas and was surprised that they were not served with sour cream. Vince had a crispy beef taco, a cheese taco, rice and beans. He was pleased with his meal and particularly liked the chips; they were fresh, thin and crispy. I had a crispy beef taco, a beef enchilada, rice and beans. The flavors were good. The meat in the taco was a finer grind that I’m used to, but the lettuce, tomatoes and cheese were fresh and there was lots of salad. My enchilada was hot with plenty of cheese on top. We all agreed that these dishes were a good, but much less spiced than we’d expected. We all agreed that the hot sauce and chips were our favorite part of the meal.

Mustang Grapes
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