|Living legend Billy Ray Pemberton on his handbuilt White Rock Creek Trail with Downtown Dallas skyline in the distance|
Last Sunrise Of The Summer Over The Wetland Cells
|The last sunrise of summer 2012 as viewed from atop Trinity River Wetland Cell "pyramid"|
|View from atop the "pyramid" feature at the Trinity Wetland Cells|
|Blue Winged Teal Ducks At The Wetland Cells|
The water used in the wetland cell project comes mostly from the wastewater treatment plant upstream. It has no smell and I have been told that this water is actually cleaner than the Trinity River itself. Sitting above the Trinity River some 25 feet during normal river flow it only floods when the river experiences prolonged rain events. One interesting note about this place is the fog that seems to develop along the wetland cells even on warmer mornings.
Visiting White Rock Spring
The equinox was a great day to bring together a group of people from all walks of life who are interested in the folks, flora and fauna that make the spring complex in Pleasant Grove. It was a great walk through of local history as told by Mr Pemberton seen above. The photo above was taken at Case Pemberton's cabin site built in the 1880s. The group was just about the right size for such an outing. A great bunch of people I have conversed with via email over the last couple years and I was glad some of us could finally meet face to face. Some were members of the Dallas Historical Society and a member of the Sons of the Texas Revolution. A couple have even struck out on their own and done some of the Devon Anderson, Joppa and McCommas Bluff hikes mentioned here.
The last week of September marks the 169th anniversary of the signing of the Bird's Fort Treaty which brought Sam Houston to North Texas. Signed on September 29, 1843.
It was also a privilege to have local historian MC Toyer join the party. He is the definitive authority on Dallas history, cabins and pioneer genealogy in this part of Texas.
Mr Toyer, seen here standing at White Rock Spring gave a great talk about the background of the spring site, White Rock Creek and Pleasant Grove. So much history happened here on this spot that during our visit we did not get around to discussing the Native Americans who camped here until our return hike from White Rock Creek.
MC Toyer started his talk about the Indian campaigns and expeditions through this area in the 1830s and early 1840s led by General Edward Tarrant and Captain James Bourland. As a result, Bird's Fort was built in present day Euless. From the fort, many veterans of these Indian campaigns who had seen the land, decided to settle the Dallas area using their 640 acre land grants appointed to them as war veterans. Land rich and cash poor, the Republic of Texas paid veterans for their service with land. The scrip was often called Toby Scrip, for Thomas Toby of the Toby and Brother Company of New Orleans, the chief scrip agent. During the republic era, 1,329,200 acres of public land was sold or used directly to retire debt.
|Bill Pemberton and MC Toyer at the spring|
Big Spring as the Beeman's called it, was on the Big Spring Tract of the Beeman holdings. 320 acres in size this particular tract had two similar tracts nearby called the Prairie Tract and the Cedar Brake Tract. Each tract served a different purpose. One provided great grazing land and farming use. The Cedar Brake Tract provided a source of lumber which was scarce prior to the building of the railroads.
180 acres of the Big Spring tract was inherited by Margaret Beeman, wife of John Neely Bryan in 1856. The Bryan family lived here at the springs from 1867 to 1880. MC Toyer brought along an interesting photo that he believes to be Margaret Beeman standing in front of her home at the spring site shortly after the Civil War. Mr Toyer brought the photo along to see if he could orient the old photo to the contemporary scene. The background did appear quite similar to the present day. Some gravel mining in the area has changed the slope of the terrace over the years so the area where the Beeman cabin was once believed to have stood looks similar but not exact. It would be fun to pursue this further. At the site, since a well was not used at the time, we thought back to how far someone would be willing to walk every morning for a bucket of water.
|Big Spring as it looks today|
|Corn King Hand Sheller|
|Case Pemberton cabin site, Olympia the Goat foreground|
It does not take much to get Mr Pemberton excited about showing off Case Pemberton's farming equipment. One twinkle in his eye is all it takes to pull out his prized Corn King Hand Sheller. I found an old ad for one dating back to the late 1800s. I believe Mr Pembertons sheller is older than the advertisement.
|Billy Ray with a copy of the Texas Declaration of Independence brought by Mr Gibson|
Really easy to get sidetracked at the garage. Which is a good thing. One interesting heirloom after another comes out of it. A piece of cast iron, some old horseshoes, some blacksmithing apparatus. Each has a story to tell. I always try and make a little time to look at one or two of these old things on a visit. That little bit of time often turns into an hour.
Beyond The Spring And Down Into The Back Forty
|The Beeman Walnut Tree|
It's here, down the slope and into the bottoms where the sounds of the city are completely gone. A dead silence where you can hear an acorn drop 100 feet away.
|Bryan's Slough and Oak Creek|
|Standing on an active beaver dam looking upstream from Bryan's Slough/Oak Creek|
|Billy Ray Pemberton and visitors on his old bridle path|
Down here in this remote area the animal prints far outnumber those of people.
The hike here is an easy one from the spring to White Rock Creek. Seen in the picture at right with Downtown Dallas in the background, a companion route could be easily made from the existing Rochester Park / William Blair trails. White Rock Creek has a man made boulder crossing currently in place along the right of way here that makes for an easy dry hop-skip-jump across.
|End of the trail along the steep banks of White Rock Creek|
Below is a short clip of the White Rock Creek crossing looking upstream. Rochester Park is on the left, Billy Ray's trail would be to the right.
The 2012 Bond Package
I noticed that one part of the 2012 Bond Package up for vote in the coming November 2012 election is a proposal to build a 100 foot deep, 30 foot diameter storm drainage pipe which would drain much of East Dallas and Uptown storm water into White Rock Creek. The video below notes the outlet for the stormwater as the White Rock Creek Outfall.
I cannot find really anything about it online other than this recently posted Youtube video. It gives one pause about what lies in store for Lower White Rock Creek, the Great Trinity Forest and the historic places we visited in this post. It sounds like the floodwaters that originally would have entered the Trinity in the Mill Creek, Turtle Creek and Peak Creek drainages from Uptown through the Arts District, M-Streets, Baylor Hospital and Fair Park, would reroute through Rochester Park and Pemberton Hill.
I wonder where the outflow would be located. Scyene, Second and Bruton all have low bridges that are somewhat prone to flooding during heavy rains. Seems more likely that if an outflow location were selected it would be further south near US 175 or in Rochester Park.
Seems like an ambitious project to relieve certain areas of town from flood waters like Baylor Hospital's emergency room. The cost will manifest itself where all this extra water ends up.
A Special Thanks
A special thanks to the Pemberton family for hosting this event. Their knowledge is something you cannot find in books, online or through a television. It has to be seen and witnessed for your own eyes to appreciate. SYOTT- See You On The Trail