Friday, April 28, 2017

Going to Glen Rose

It’s not lions and tigers and bears, but reptiles and water and mud, Oh My! One of my
Old tree and blue sky
memories from the 1950s is traveling to the Paluxy River to see the dinosaur tracks. I thought that the tracks were made the day before and was rather disappointed when I was told that they were trace fossils; I wouldn’t see any actual dinosaurs lurking in the woods. We clambered down the side of the river and stared into the muddy water to see holes in rocks. My other disappointment was that there had been lots of rain and the water was too deep for me to sit in the tracks. I was underwhelmed. I’m fairly sure that I hadn’t been back to Glen Rose until this last visit. This time, although there had been rain, the water was clear and the tracks were visible, plus it was a warm day with a bright, blue, Texas sky – it was worth the drive!

Long before Anglo settlers first appeared, Caddo groups and Tonkawas lived in the area, with periodic visits by the Apaches and Comanche. It wasn’t until 1849 that Charles Barnard opened a trading post near Comanche Peak. The post was closed when a federal Indian
Somerville County Courthouse
reservation was opened, then re-established when the reservation was closed: this was in about 1859. The site of his first store is the location for the city of Glen Rose. Encouraging town growth was the construction of a grist mill (Barnard's Mill is now an art museum) on the Paluxy River. This was sold for a quite nice profit to a man from Dallas; his wife, a native of Scotland wanted to re-name the town Rose Glen to highlight the area’s scenic beauty. The citizens voted against the new name and by 1875 Glen Rose was designated the seat of Somervell County. Not long after, Glen Rose became a center of higher education, hosting a Baptist college and a Presbyterian collegiate institute; each operated for about 20 years. After a fire in 1893, a Romanesque Revival style courthouse was built of locally quarried limestone. The area was also attractive to farmers and ranchers, and the mineral springs drew numerous doctors and self-styled healers to the area. Glen Rose was also popular during Prohibition, becoming the ‘whiskey woods capital’ of Texas. The Great Depression had some impact on the city, but monies from the Public Works Administration allowed the construction of school buildings, a canning plant, three low-water dams on the Paluxy River, a new water system, and a new sewer system. World War II did nothing to increase the population, since there were no war industries in the area, but the construction of the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant in 1975 brought new jobs to the area. And while the chief industries are still farming and ranching, tourism also supports the economy of the area.

In the early Cretaceous Period along the shorelines of an ancient sea dinosaurs roamed.
Left T to B: Apatosaurus model, Tracks just under water
Right: T. Rex model
The muds along the shore held the food prints of these ancient creatures. The tracks were covered by other deposits that were eventually hardened. Over the last million years the softer layers have been eroded by the Paluxy River revealing the trace fossils. The land for Dinosaur Valley State Park was purchased from private owners during 1968 and opened to the public in 1972. Since then the state park has been named a National Natural Landmark. The park, at one time rather rustic, has been improved to provide camping areas and access to the river that doesn’t threaten to break bones as you negotiate the trails. There is also a small store on site and replicas of dinosaurs with information about the critters. Once the weather settles down in the spring the park is very busy, particularly on weekends. There were a few people enjoying the area the day we were there, but the water in the river was cold and flowing rapidly. If you stayed out of the wind, it was a pleasant day!

Milam House

This quite community has lots of things going for it, not the least of which is a wide variety of places to eat and things to do. For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.
Four carrots

Dinosaur Valley State Park (1629 Park Road 59, Glen Rose, TX 76043, 254-897-4588) is managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. If you’re a senior citizen, you can purchase a pass for about $7.00 that will get you into all of the state parks for free or nearly free for the rest of your life; this is a really good deal. This is a great place to spend a substantial amount of time. There are a couple of touristy places just outside the park entrance that you may want to give a miss. The science is incorrect and some of their displays are simply goofy.

Riverhouse Grill (210 SW Barnard Street, Glen Rose, TX 76043, 254-898-8514) is an
Top L to R: Catfish, Menu
Bottom L to R: Sandwich, Gnocchi
excellent place to go for a meal. Located in the historic Milam house, this lovely venue supports the innovative menu created by Chef and owner, Milan Olejnik, Jr. Although alcohol is served, Glen Rose is dry so your driver’s license will be scanned to enter you into the ‘club’. The day we visited the special was gnocchi in a pesto sauce with blue cheese and sun-dried tomatoes; it was beyond yummy. Dave had a very nice piece of catfish that he said was cooked ‘just right’; he did say that the slaw needed some pizzazz, but the sweet potato fries hot and crispy – just as he likes them. Vince had a ham and smoked gouda panini that was garnished with whole grain mustard, and tomatoes then served on grilled bread; he also chose the sweet potato fries as his side; he said the sandwich was excellent. I wandered upstairs and through the rest of the house. The rooms are set up for private parties and one area serves as a tasting room; every room is tastefully decorated. We were excited to find this restaurant and will be back, again.

Paluxy River

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