Review of Enchanted Rock: A Natural And Human History
Copyright © by Jessica Schneider, 2/26/10
Most natives to Central Texas have at one time visited Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. The park offers a great place to climb, hike, camp, and plenty of scenery to soak in. Located just past Llano and on one’s way to Fredericksburg, Enchanted Rock is not only a must stop, but it is also a place larded in geographical and historical significance.
Lance Allred’s comprehensive book, titled Enchanted Rock: A Natural and Human History, (University of Texas Press) is wonderfully thorough and highly organized. Not only is it the best book on Enchanted Rock thus far, it is the only book thus far—offering a detailed yet highly readable and comprehensive history about the park, and the significance the park offers not only to Central Texans, but to world geologists.
The book also offers interesting facts, such as the many owners that have claimed the park, including: “Enchanted Rock has been claimed as the territory of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate Sates of America, and the United States of America, not to mention the Native American peoples who claimed the area as their hunting grounds. The park itself has seen thirteen owners, including the latest, the State of Texas. Not bad for 1,643 acres of granite!”
There are also a myriad of Native American legends the book delves into, including human sacrifices and the supposed voices one hears in the trees, as well as the footprints upon the smooth domed rock, supposedly made by the spirit of an Indian chief who was forced to walk the rock for eternity. The book then dips into the geological past, covering various geological occurrences such as erosion and the major types of weathering.
Weather is also discussed, and this section addresses temperature, annual precipitation, humidity, as well as heat index. All these factors impact not only the seasonal visitation, but the biology as well, including the types of flora and fauna. Perhaps the most interesting and necessary part of the book includes the section on flora and fauna, offering a list of all the known plant and animal species present throughout the park.
I must give kudos to the author for offering his readers such an extensive amount of photographs identifying the various trees and shrubs, vines, flowers, cacti, ferns, grasses, sedges and rushes, berries, seeds, pods and fruit, mosses, lichens, algae, mammals, birds, lizards, snakes, amphibians, fish, and an extensive coverage of the varying species of bugs and arachnids.
It certainly would have been easier for the author to offer up a coffee table book instead of this rich, historical, geological and biological book. From covering all corners, Enchanted Rock: A Natural and Human History is aptly named, and is easily the best (and only) book on Enchanted Rock currently available. But even if one has not traveled to Enchanted Rock, this book offers an extensive history of Texas geology, but offers it in such a way that is both accessible and yet educational. The book is well organized in such a way that allows readers to flip through certain sections, and it is a work that one can revisit for both general geological as well as historical details, but also Enchanted Rock: A Natural and Human History acts as a great source for the many species of Texas.
While there are numerous books on Big Bend National Park, Enchanted Rock is a park not to be missed. Rich in historical and geological import, Allred’s book is a must have for any nature enthusiast, and especially one native to Texas and the American Southwest. I recommend it highly and encourage readers to support the park by visiting. This is your country. Love it.
[An expurgated version of this article originally appeared on the Examiner website.]
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