I headed north this past weekend to explore the northern parts of the Texas panhandle. One of my stops was the state’s only national monument. The Alibates (pronounced ALLEY-bates) Flint Quarries National Monument is near the city of Fritch.
As you enter into the park area, you’ll notice hillsides covered with white rocks. These rocks are a specific type of limestone — dolomite. This part of Texas used to be covered by an ancient sea, followed by millennia of layers of sediment. As the sediment wore away, the limestone was exposed.
The National Park Service only conducts guided tours of the flint quarry, but they do it two or three times a day. I went on the 5:30 PM tour, and it was just me and the park ranger. Scientists believe the brown streaks on this stone are petrified algae.
Flint was quarried here as far back as 12,000 years ago. The people who lived here made weapons and tools out of it, and they also prepared it to trade with other peoples. The flint rock below was obviously shaped into a sharp instrument.
The rock below is actually petrified wood. The park ranger says it’s not supposed to be here naturally, so it’s a mystery as to how it got here.
This is the Yucca plant. It is numerous here, and native peoples used it for food and fibers.
This is the kind of stone that was used to shape flint. It’s heavy and also has a convenient thumb groove.
Flint is everywhere up here. You can find it just lying around.
This is a Collared Lizard.
I found this particularly fascinating. Notice the large rock sticking out of the dirt on the right side of the photograph? The park ranger told me that all of the dirt above that rock is from somewhere else. In other words, it’s not local. The theory is that it was deposited here during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
A picture from the edge of a mesa. In the distance is the dry lake bed of Lake Meredith. It’s a man-made lake, but it has been going dry for the past couple of decades.
I’ll have some more from my trip in the next post.