House Of Earth Tidbit #1

by Woody Guthrie

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House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby fireflydances » Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:16 pm

Welcome everyone! Here we are again, at the edge of a new book discussion. Our tidbits begin today with an exploration of Cap Rock Country.



CAP ROCK COUNTRY

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Caprock Escarpment, Garza County, Texas


Woody begins House of Earth with this description:

It was a clear day. A blue sky. A few puffy, white-looking thunderclouds dragged their shadows like dark sheets across the flat Cap Rock country. The Cap Rock is that big high, crooked cliff of limestone, sandrock, marble, and flint, that divides the lower west Texas plains from the upper north panhandle plains. The canyons, dry wash rivers, sandy creek beds, ditches, and gullies that joined up with the Cap Rock cliff form the graveyard of past Indian civilizations, flying and testing grounds of herds of leather-winged bats, drying grounds of monster-sized bones and teeth, roosting, nesting, and the breeding place of the big brown eagle. Dens of rattlesnakes, lizards, scorpions, spiders, jackrabbit, cottontail, ants, horny butterfly, horned toad, and stinging winds and seasons. These things all were born of the Cap Rock Cliff and it was alive and moving with all these and with the mummy skeletons of early settlers of all colors. A world close to sun, closer to the wind, the cloudbursts, floods, gumbo muds, the dry and dusty things that lose their footing in this world, and blow, and roll, jump wire fences, like the tumbleweed, and take their last earthly leap in the north wind out and down, off the upper north plains, and down onto the sandier cotton plains that commence to take shape west of Clarendon.


This is a strong evocation of place. We see the cliff and the crawling things; feel the dryness, reflect on the long history of other peoples. When a writer creates a story, place is the stage or backdrop for the story’s events. It is the floor we watch the characters walk over in our imagination. But sometimes place fills a story so completely that every outcome is determined by place. In a sense, place becomes a character. I think this is true of House of Earth.

Woody begins his story with place and so should we. Let’s start with the land. Specifically with the High Plains, which are considered the western part of the Great Plains just before the plains meets the Rocky Mountains. When I started researching this topic, my first question had to do with the Great Plains itself. Why this enormous flat expanse in the middle of the continent?

Why the land? As an Easterner, I always considered land as a quiet support for everything that grew on it or walked over it. Not the center of attention. Then last spring, I drove cross country and became mesmerized by the bare power of the thing. The roll of it, the steep up and downs, the wide open valleys fringed by sudden mountain ranges, and the high flat lands that seem to stretch out forever. It doesn't matter what’s growing on something that has this much movement. Land is first; everything else comes later. So, we begin with the land.


The Formation of the Great Plains


The why of the Great Plains. We are talking about a great expanse of land that is almost entirely level, mostly bare of trees, and very arid, meaning rainfall totals of 24 inches or less a year. A vast flatland that extends from northwestern Canada through parts of the Northwest Territories, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba, then on into Montana, North and South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas.

Millions of years ago shallow seas covered the interior of North America. Over time, the sea floors subsided and thousands of feet of marine based sediment were laid down on the bottom. In some places this sediment was 10,000 feet or more deep. These layers were subject to enormous pressure, which turned the sediment into limestone and sandstone rock. Then, about 70 million years, deep continental lifting caused the seas to disappear and created an extensive, nearly flat landscape. As the process of evolving landmass continued, the sedimentary rock level was warped and broke in some places, due to the uplifting of molten rocks. In other places gently shaped into basins developed.

Further west, something very different was occurring. Along a narrow chain extending from Mexico to Alaska, in the region we now call the Rockies, the land mass was being lifted at a much accelerated pace. As the mountains rose, the overlying sediment layers were stripped off by erosion, filling rivers and streams with a wash of gravel, sand and mud. The rivers and streams carried this sedimentary debris onto the wide plains, in some cases creating a lush vegetative region that drew thousands of dinosaurs.

The mountains continued to rise for millions of years, and streams that flowed along their flanks cut deeply into the core rock of the mountain, moving more material to the alluvial plains. Volcanoes rose about 50 million years ago, pushing out even more material. Ten million years ago, this mass of material was being deposited over the entire Great Plains region, a giant eastward sloping plain with several minor mountain masses. An amazing place it seems. Home of “horses, camels, rhinoceroses and a strange horselike creature with clawed feet called the Moropus.” (Trimble)


Image
Tom Bean - Storm Clouds Hanging Over the Plains of Llano Estacado



The High Plains and the Llano Estacado

As the uplift continued, the rivers cut deeper into the plains. Those lands "near the mountains was stripped away by the Missouri, the Platte, the Arkansas and the Pecos Rivers, and the eastern border of the plains was gnawed away by lesser streams. A large central area of the (original) plain was preserved however, essentially untouched and unaffected by the streams, as a little-modified remnant of the depositional surface of 5 million years ago.” (Trimble) This large untouched region is what we now call the High Plains.

Extending westward to the Rockies, and southward from the South Dakota-Nebraska border (including the Sand Hills), to the Edwards Plateau in west-central Texas, the High Plains are cut into by the Platte, the Arkansas and the Canadian Rivers, which create “a series of downward stepping terraces. ”(Encyclopedia of the Great Plains, Wishart, editor) The portion that interests us most lies south of Canadian River and it’s called the Southern High Plains, or the Llano Estacado.


Image
Map of the Llano Estacado


The Llano Estacado or “staked plains” straddles the border between Texas and New Mexico. It is bounded on the north by the Canadian River, and runs east from Tucumcari, New Mexico to just beyond Pampa, Texas (then) south to Midland, Texas, all told about 30,000 square miles. If considered from a Texas road trip perspective, you might say that it runs roughly from Amarillo and Interstate 40 in the north, to Midland-Odessa and Interstate 20 in the south.

This high tableland is stunningly flat. Here, some early impressions from the 1541 Spanish expedition of Francisco Vázquez de Coronado: “The expedition encountered a land level like the sea.” (and) “A land so level that men became lost when they were separated by (only) half a league.” (and)” It is something worth noting that since the land is so flat, if at midday they have wandered foolishly following their prey from one place to another, they must stay calmly near their prey until the sun lowers, in order to see by what course they must return to where they departed from.” (Flint)

Like other areas of the High Plains, the Llano Estacado was originally formed by erosion, part of the debris cast off by the Rocky Mountains. But the Llano Estacado is unique in that it has been protected from further erosion because of deposits of a calcareous caprock called caliche. A sedimentary rock, formed from hardened deposits of calcium carbonate, caliche cements together other materials such as gravel, sand, clay and silt making them remarkably resistant to erosion. If you’ve ever used of Portland cement, you know caliche. Not to be confused with adobe, which we will discuss separately, caliche has been used in road construction and even in some Mayan buildings on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.

Image
Taken Between Tatum and Roswell, New Mexico – Jay Standefer





The Caprock Escarpment

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If you look at the shaded relief map above, you can actually make out the eastern edge of the Llano Estacado. It appears as a rippling line that curves from Amarillo to a little beyond Lubbock. This ripple is the Caprock Escarpment, a defining margin between the high tableland of the Llano Estacado and the rolling plains to the east. Escarpments are points of transition between two different kinds of sedimentary rock, one being less dense than the other. The Caprock Escarpment extends for about 200 miles, ranging in height between 300 and 1,000 feet. The best description I could find of the Caprock comes from a hiking guide. The hike in question is a strenuous seven and half mile, six hour jaunt in the Caprock Canyon State Park, about 100 miles south of Amarillo. “The rocky escarpment is a thousand feet high in places and creates a stunning visual impact as it drops off flat agricultural fields into exposed red beds and arroyos of shales, sandstones, mudstones and silt. Water from creeks and streams along the Llano Estacado once flowed along in an endless expanse of grass before spilling over the Caprock Escarpment and draining into the Red, Brazos and Colorado Rivers…..As the water drained over the Escarpment it eroded away the soils and rock, revealing the region’s geologic past in exposed layers of varied coloration, each representing eons of Earth’s history.” (Klepper)




The Kiowa, the Comanche, the Horse and the Buffalo

Image
George Catlin – Comanche Indians Chasing Buffalo with Lances and Bows (1846 – 1848)


1n 1541, Hernando de Alvarado, traveling with the Coronado’s expedition into Texas encountered the buffalo at the western edge of the Llano Estacado:

They were “..the most monstrous beasts ever seen or read about,” he said. “I do not know what to compare them with unless it is fish in the sea……because the plains were covered with them.”

Later on, Coronado himself remarked in his notes on the incredible quantity of buffalo, so numerous that no matter where the travelers looked along the trail, no matter how many days out or back, they always saw buffalo. They quickly learned to eat them, likely from their Indian guides. During a two week encampment at Palo Duro in the Texas Panhandle and right on the Caprock Escarpment, they consumed five hundred buffalo.

How did they slaughter them? Well, in 1541 they relied on a traditional method favored by the Indian, "…(we) killed a large number of bulls [buffalo]. As these fled they trampled one another in their haste until they came to a ravine. So many of the animals fell into this that they filled it up, and the rest went across on top of them. The men who were chasing them on horseback fell in among the animals without noticing where they were going. Three of the horses that fell in among the cows, all saddled and bridled, were lost sight of completely."

We have looked at the geological history of the Texas Panhandle, what about its human history? Who lived in Cap Rock Country before the white man arrived? Woody acknowledges “past Indian civilizations.” Whose hunting territory was the land between the Canadian River and the Red River?

The first settlers of the Americas were the Paleo-Indians or forerunners of the Eskimo, the American Indian, and the Maya, the Aztec and the Inca and hundreds of other tribes. They journeyed over the Bering Straits bridge—between Asia and North America-- between 15,000 and 17,000 years ago. By 1500 AD, between 50 and 100 million people lived in the Americas. In North America, the estimates run between a low of 1.2 million and a high of 18 million. (Sutton)

We are going to focus our attention on two tribes. The first tribe is called the Kiowa --- the name comes from the English spelling of Ka’I gwu, which means “principal people.” According to oral tradition, the Kiowa ancestral homelands were near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River in what is now western Montana. They were hunters who used domesticated dogs to carry their supplies in a travois, or frame made of wood. Starting about 1600 AD, the tribe moved south, through Crow territory and onto the Black Hills of Wyoming and South Dakota. By the early 1700s, they were living in an area between the Platte and Kansas rivers, still north of Texas. They finally moved into the Red River drainage of the Texas Panhandle and western Oklahoma in the early 1800s.


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A painting by George Catlin depicts a Kiowa and Comanche encampment near the Red River of Texas which the artist visited in the 1830s


In the process of time one of their [Kiowa] men, in his travels, went far to the southward, and after some years of roaming, was taken prisoner by a band of Comanches. They took council to put him to death, but one of their head men prevailed…on the plea that they had never before seen anyone like him or any of his people, and it might be that if they treated him well, he might befriend any of their men who might fall in with his tribe….The counsel of this chief prevailed, and [the Kiowa man] was fitted out with a pony, saddle, and bridle and was sent home. On his return [to the Kiowa people], his pony, saddle, and bridle were objects of general admiration and envy….He told them that in this country he had visited, the summer lasted nearly the whole year, and the plains were well stocked not only with game, but large herds of ponies such as he was riding.--Kiowa Chief Kicking Bird, 1871. (Kenmotsu)

The Kiowa say that when they moved south, the northern edge of Comanche territory was the Arkansas River, in what is now western Oklahoma.

The Comanche or Numunuh, their preferred name, were probably the most important tribe on the Great Plains. Like the Kiowa, they moved south. Separating from the Shoshoni tribe, the Comanche came down out of southern Wyoming into the southern Great Plains, about 10,000 persons strong and organized into about a dozen autonomous groups called bands. Like the Kiowa, the Comanche were also initially dependent on dogs for lugging supplies about. In fact, there were no horses at all on the Great Plains until about 1700.

Where did the horses come from? From the Spanish, of course, although not willingly. It’s an interesting story. By the mid-1500’s, the Spanish had developed a vast colonial empire running down through South America and up into North America. The Aztec's last stand against the Spanish invader happened during the Fall of Tenochtitlan (May 26 - August 13, 1521). We know that Coronado was exploring the American Southwest, looking for golden cities by 1541. In 1598, Spain occupied the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico, then home to about 40,000 Pueblo Indians and commenced to rule the region for the next eighty years. Spain introduced new crops and livestock, but their rule was harsh and without compromise.

By the mid-sixteen hundreds, the Spanish rancheros near Santa Fe and Taos had thousands of horses. Understanding the military value of the horse, the Spanish government issued decrees forbidding Indians to own or ride horses, but as slaves, or as workers, on the Spanish Rancheros, Indians learned to handle horses. When a Pueblo escaped Spanish rule, a horse most often went with him. Horses also ended by being traded illegally for buffalo skins.

“The 1680 Pueblo Revolt forced the Spanish out of New Mexico and thousands of horses were left behind. The Comanche, Ute, Apache, and other tribes in the area took full advantage of these horses….Within fifty years, Indian tribes, as far north as the Cree and Assiniboine in Canada, had acquired horses primarily through trade. The Ute Indians were related to the Comanche and probably supplied them with horses.” There were also many raids. “(T)he Comanche claimed they let the Spanish stay in Texas to raise horses for them, but warriors still went to Mexico after more horses. It is believed the Comanche stole thirty thousand horses a year from rancheros in Mexico (Francis Haines). September was the month large raiding parties went into Mexico after horses and captives. Comanche referred to September as the Mexican Moon; Mexicans called it the Comanche Moon. Other northern tribes followed this practice, and soon a wide trail stretched across the staked plain (Llano Estacada) of Texas and New Mexico. The Apaches conducted the same kind of raids into Sonora and Chihuahua.”

“The Comanche became the epitome of the Plains Indian Horse Culture. There was a saying in Texas: “The white man will ride the Mustang until he is played out - the Mexican will take him and ride him another day until he thinks he is tired - the Comanche will get on him and ride him to where he is going” (Frank Dobie). Within a few decades after acquiring horses, many military leaders considered the Comanche as the finest light cavalry in the world.” (Eddins)


Image
The Comancheria Prior to 1850


The area the Comanche controlled became known as Comancheria. It extended from the Arkansas River in Colorado to the north all the way to the Rio Grande in southern Texas and included parts of Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma – 250,000 square miles. When the Kiowa moved south to the plains near the Arkansas River, they faced competition from the Comanche. Both tribes had known each other for many years, since the time when the Comanche had lived in Wyoming. By 1780 the fighting had become serious, although both tribes respected the other’s ability. Peace between them came out of a chance meeting at a Spanish trading post around 1805. According to the tale, in an attempt to avoid an all-out battle, a Kiowa warrior offered to accompany the Comanche and stay with them for one year. When he returned unharmed, the peace process was soon underway. The outcome was a lasting alliance between the two tribes.

American problems with Comanches and their allies began during the 1820s with the relocation of tribes from east of the Mississippi River to Kansas and Oklahoma, associated maneuvering for hunting territory, and the steady influx of white settlers. The annexation of Texas in 1846 compounding the problem. As if all of this wasn’t enough, the Comanche and Kiowa were being devastated by outbreaks of small pox. The Comanche lost 10,000 people in three years. There were a number of treaties and peace conferences, none of which totally resolved the problems of boundary setting and safe access. When the Civil War broke out in 1860, US military forces had to be withdrawn from the Plains, prompting the return of Comanche dominance across the region.

In 1867 there was a fresh attempt. The Medicine Lodge Treaty called for the establishment of two reservations to be set aside in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) – one for the Comanche and Kiowa and another for the Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho. The US was to provide housing, food and supplies – including guns for hunting—for a 31 year period and the tribes would be allowed to “hunt on any lands south of the Arkansas River so long as the buffalo may range thereon.” The tribes had to promise to stop their raids. The treaty was endorsed by a number of chiefs, and many tribal members moved to the reservations.

But the treaty was doomed from the start. Commercial hunting of buffalo had already become a major enterprise – by 1878 the entire herd of the Southern Plains buffalo would exterminated. The food promised by the US was inadequate. The Indians chafed under the restriction of living on a reservation. Renegade bands left the reservations and resumed life in the Texas Plains. A Comanche prophet arose calling for war. “In the early morning hours of June 27, 1874 some three hundred Indians led by Isa-tai (prophet) and famed Comanche chief Quanah Parker attacked the Adobe Wells post” --- a settlement for buffalo hunters. (TexasBeyondHistory)


Image
Quanah Parker, the son of Comanche chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, a European American, who had been kidnapped at the age of nine and assimilated into the tribe


The Adobe Wells attack convinced the US Army that a new plan was needed. A new policy called for the protection of friendly Indians and the destruction of hostiles. “The primary objective of the military campaign of 1874 was the removal of the Indian groups from this area of Texas and the opening of the region to Anglo-American settlement.” (TexasBeyondHistory)

Referred to as the Red River War, the offensive mobilized five columns, converging on the general area of the Texas panhandle and specifically upon the upper tributaries of the Red River where the Indians were believed to be. The war began in February 1874. The most critical battle of the war was fought in Palo Duro Canyon where three hundred years earlier Coronado and his men feasted on 500 buffalo. This time, five Indian villages had sought protection in the canyon. When the US Army charged into the canyon, people scattered and a united defense couldn’t be raised. “The soldiers captured and burned the villages, including the Indian’s winter food supply. They also captured 1,424 Indian horses that they drove some 20 miles from the scene of the fight….After this battle, with no provisions to see them through the winter, many of the Indians began to drift back to the reservations. Over the next several months, the US Army would sweep the remaining holdouts from the Texas Panhandle and force them onto the reservations.” (TexasBeyondHistory)

We will be exploring more history of the region in other tidbits.


Sources:

Eddins, O. Ned. The Spanish Colonial Horse and the Plains Indian Horse Culture. 2013

Flint, Richard and Flint, Shirley Cushing. New Mexico Office of the State Historian: Llano Estacado. © 2004-2013 New Mexico State Record Center and Archives

Klepper, E. Dan. 100 Classic Hikes in Texas, Mountaineer Books, Seattle Washington, 2009.

Sharp, Jay W. Desert Trails: The Coronado Expedition From Cibola To Quivira Then Home. DesertUSA.com and Digital West Media, Inc. 1996-2012

Sultzman, Lee. Comanche History The First Nations Website. Dick Shovel.com 2006

Sutton, Mark Q. An Introduction to Native North America. Pearson, 2011.


Trimble, Donald E. The Geologic Story of the Great Plains. Geological Survey Bulletin #1493. US Government Printing Office, Washington DC. 1980

Website: Texas Beyond History—University of Texas at Austin
Kenmotsu, Dr. Nancy, The Native Peoples of the Plateaus and Canyonlands. 2005
Cruse, Brett and Mercado-Allinger, Patricia The Red River Wars.2001
"Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested." Sir Francis Bacon, Of Studies

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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby Buster » Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:51 pm

Thanks for the geology/history background, firefly!

I've driven through this part of the country many times, and it really does get under your skin ...

The Comanche and Apache were neighbors to the descendants of the Anasazi people, the pueblo dwellers, who were there long before Coronado marched through. There's an interesting collection of early graffiti carved into a sandstone mesa at El Morro (dating back to 1605!) which gives a sense of all the different groups who traveled through the area.
Now please excuse my while I go look at my road trip pictures...

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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby Buster » Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:00 pm

According to the tale, in an attempt to avoid an all-out battle, a Kiowa warrior offered to accompany the Comanche and stay with them for one year. When he returned unharmed, the peace process was soon underway. The outcome was a lasting alliance between the two tribes.


Now, I wonder if the "peace" treaties with the American government would have turned out differently if this strategy had been employed? :whistle:

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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Mon Feb 18, 2013 6:23 pm

The landscape is totally alien to me, something I can't imagine, its very big.

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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby Liz » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:58 pm

TEXAS is VERY BIG, GG. For example, El Paso, TX is closer to California than it is to Dallas. That just blows my mind.
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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:24 am

Ever since I took that road trip across the top of the Texas Panhandle I am mesmerized by the flatness that goes on forever. I always thought it would be boring, but it's simply so alien you can't resist staring at it.
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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:24 am

The Cap Rock is that big high, crooked cliff of limestone, sandrock, marble, and flint, that divides the lower west Texas plains from the upper north panhandle plains.

When I read that I just knew you’d have some great visuals for us! And of course I was not disappointed. :grin:

The photos in this tidbit really get me – it’s just soooooo vast, and soooooo flat, and that odd cliff where ” ...the dry and dusty things that lose their footing in this world… take their last earthly leap…” It’s almost surreal.

And such an interesting human history, too. It’s amazing to me that so many civilizations have survived and even thrived in the harsh conditions of the plains! There is just isn’t any natural shelter! Anywhere! And the storms that rip through there… :fear: How did the nomadic tribes manage, I wonder? And then I wonder how far the first settlers had to go to find some trees with which to build their houses… But I shan't jump ahead!

Thanks for a great first tidbit! You’ve already set my mind a wanderin’. :lol:

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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby Gilbert's Girl » Tue Feb 19, 2013 3:22 am

You know that if you are thinking of nomadic tribes and the vastness just think you can fit all of the US into Africa, hows that for scale. I know not really relevant but the landscapes there are huge too. We don't have huge landscapes here everythings is small scale. Can't imagine what the first settlers thought as they set off across that wilderness of the US after being in the smallness of a English landscape or wherever.


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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby nebraska » Tue Feb 19, 2013 11:46 am

fireflydances wrote:
Further west, something very different was occurring. Along a narrow chain extending from Mexico to Alaska, in the region we now call the Rockies, the land mass was being lifted at a much accelerated pace. As the mountains rose, the overlying sediment layers were stripped off by erosion, filling rivers and streams with a wash of gravel, sand and mud. The rivers and streams carried this sedimentary debris onto the wide plains, in some cases creating a lush vegetative region that drew thousands of dinosaurs.


It is always hard to think of this area of the world being filled with creatures like dinosaurs! But in northern Nebraska you can view a huge fossil bed of "prehistoric" animals near a waterhole, victims of a volcanic ash storm.
We humans really are nothing more than tiny specks on the pages of history.

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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby RamblinRebel » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:17 pm

Interesting! Thanks! :cool:

GG-good point about Africa - it's mind-blowing, really.

nebraska wrote:We humans really are nothing more than tiny specks on the pages of history.
So true. So true. "Dust in the wind..." as they say. ;-)

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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby fireflydances » Tue Feb 19, 2013 5:00 pm

nebraska wrote:
fireflydances wrote:
Further west, something very different was occurring. Along a narrow chain extending from Mexico to Alaska, in the region we now call the Rockies, the land mass was being lifted at a much accelerated pace. As the mountains rose, the overlying sediment layers were stripped off by erosion, filling rivers and streams with a wash of gravel, sand and mud. The rivers and streams carried this sedimentary debris onto the wide plains, in some cases creating a lush vegetative region that drew thousands of dinosaurs.


It is always hard to think of this area of the world being filled with creatures like dinosaurs! But in northern Nebraska you can view a huge fossil bed of "prehistoric" animals near a waterhole, victims of a volcanic ash storm.
We humans really are nothing more than tiny specks on the pages of history.


Thanks nebraska, very interesting. I noticed that they had identified five different species of horses, one as small as a dog and another the size of a deer. Yes, there were horses in North America but they were gone by the time the Paleo-Indians got here. Rather amazing that the Spanish then came along and accidentally repopulated the entire continent.

A horse the size of a dog? It sounded so incredible I figured I'd google it to see what it might have looked like, and I end up finding a modern day one. Whoa there, horsey!

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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby ladylinn » Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:44 pm

Great pics - can really get the true feel of Woody's description of the Texas landscape. Having been raised in central Illinois where it is considered flat lands - it certainly doesn't compare to the vastness of this area. The Comanche and Apache and first settlers were certainly strong and tough people.

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Re: House Of Earth Tidbit #1

Unread postby fireflydances » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:37 am

I have another bit I left out because I couldn't figure out where to put it. Well, it's actually more than one thing. It's how horses changed lives. Pre-horse, belongings had to be kept to a minimum. Could you get the dog to carry it, or were you going to carry it? The horse could pack four times what a dog could. But, it changed how you traveled. The dog was small and you could do narrow trails -- the horse needed wide places to maneuver, and you had to be sure that you camped in a place where there'd be sufficient pasture land for the horses to graze in. Horse travel was much faster, but because you needed to pick these wide open places near good grazing, you and your family were in more danger of attack, by other tribes or the US Calvary.

Every family needed 8-10 horses. And sometimes it took a tribe decades to accumulate enough animals for everyone to have enough.

Finally, the Comanche figured out how to ride from the Spanish. The notion that they had to learn, to borrow ideas about training, breeding etc. just simply blows my mind. Inter-cultural sharing on the most practical of levels. Pretty cool.
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