May 8, 2012 – Karnack, Texas
I woke up this morning to bird calls and something that sounded like a strangled calf. It was an alligator bellowing. He was relatively close, but believe you me, I did not get out of bed and go hunting for him!
One thing I forgot to tell you about my adventures yesterday was the fact that I did a u-turn with coach and toad. I got to Jasper and had intended to take 63 up to Center. This would have taken me through the Sabine National Forest. I had checked this road in my trucker’s atlas, and it assured me that this is a road which 18-wheelers are legal to travel. Just before I got to the intersection of 63 there was a sign which indicated that anything over 12’ 3” should take 190 to DeRidder and not take 63. Now, I need a minimum of 12’ 6” clearance, and I fell a lot better if I have 13’. I’m taller than most 18-wheelers so while they could go on 63, I couldn’t. I went on past the intersection and pulled up on the berm to check my map to see where DeRidder was and did I want to go there. It turns out that DeRidder is due east in Louisiana, and I did not want to go there. I wanted to go north. When I had made my selection of routes, there was also 59 which went north just as 63 did and took me to Center and then on to Marshall where I connected to 43 which brought me to Karnack. So, now I was headed the wrong direction and needed to turn around and go back a couple of miles to get to 59. Fortunately, the road was 4 lanes with a turn lane in the middle. Also the berms on both sides were as wide as a driving lane. There was practically no traffic so I waited until there were no cars coming from either direction and made a u-turn! I would never have believed that I would be doing a u-turn in a coach, but I did it, and I survived to tell the tale.
Now for today. I hung around until it stopped raining and then took off. I went to Uncertain where I found out that there is a steamboat paddlewheel cruise of the lake tomorrow. Hopefully, it won’t rain tomorrow, and I will be able to take the cruise. I drove around Uncertain for a while looking for a propane tank which has been painted to look like a can of Campbell’s tomato soup and finally found it. Along the way I spied the Hodge Podge Cottages one of which was a boat. I took a picture of it as well as the propane tank. There are also pictures of a couple of terrapins which were crossing the road and the Church of Uncertain. As you can tell I had a good time in Uncertain. The site was once known as Uncertain Landing, so named, according to one local tradition, because of the difficulty steamboat captains in earlier days had in mooring their vessels there. Another tradition has it that the town name came from the uncertainty that residents had about their citizenship before the boundary between the United States and the Republic of Texas had been established. The latter uncertainty was a substantial benefit to residents who did not like paying taxes. In the early 1900s the site included a hunting, fishing, and boating society called the Uncertain Club. During the 1940s the community had scattered dwellings, a sawmill, several camping lodges, and some five other businesses. In a bid to promote tourism by providing an area with legal alcohol consumption, the community was incorporated as Uncertain in 1961. That year many of its 213 citizens were fishing-camp operators. The town limits were irregularly shaped, as they were designed to include most of the restaurants and fishing camps along that part of the Caddo Lake shoreline. Beer Smith's Caddo Lake Airport, known as the Fly and Fish, also lay within the boundaries of the community. In 1990 the population of Uncertain was 194 and 150 in 2000.
From Uncertain, I headed 70 miles south to Looneyville. It was a farming town settled around the time of the Civil War. The community was named for John Looney, who opened a store there in the early 1870s. A post office was established in Looney's store in 1874. The post office was closed in 1878 but reopened in 1889 and operated until 1905. Early on the Looneyville economy was based on lumbering, and a number of sawmills operated there at the end of the 1800s. At its height in the 1890s Looneyville had a population of 100 and a gin, a store, several sawmills, and a commissary operated by one of the lumber companies. A school was in operation by 1900; in 1904 it had an enrollment of thirty-two. The population declined after World War I, but during the 1930s Looneyville still had a church, a school, two stores, and an estimated population of forty. The school later closed; during the early 1960s the community consisted of a church and a store. The store has since burned. In the early 1990s Looneyville was a dispersed rural community. There was no one around to take my picture by the Looneyville store sign so I took a picture of my car next to it.
I saw several hunting and fishing clubs on the drive today. I understand about the fishing, but I’m wondering about the hunting. This doesn’t seem to be an area where a lot of game would be found other than alligators. I know that prior to the 1970’s or so that “hunting club” was an euphemism for the Klan. I don’t know if that is still true or not, but I’m going to ask tomorrow what folks are hunting.
On the way to Looneyville between Marshall and Tatum, there was a huge sign which touted the award winning reclamation of open pit or strip mines. I took some pictures, but I was curious as to what was being mined. In some of the pictures you will be able to see the top of a huge machine which was working behind one of the hills. According to the web: Texas has more than 24 billion tons of lignite coal that can be recovered through strip mining technology. At current rates of production, Texas' coal supply will last about 400 years. Today Texas is the nation's 5th leading producer of coal, 99% of which is lignite. Eleven large strip mines operate in Texas, mining coal that is burned for "mine-mouth" electric power generation. “Mine-mouth” means the electric plant is located at the site of the strip mine.
Texas ranks first in the nation in coal consumption for electricity generation. Texas has the nation's 8th largest mining industry, providing more than 14,000 direct jobs and over 225,000 indirect jobs. Each year, the Texas lignite mining industry spends in excess of $100 million on land restoration and other environmental procedures.
Mines are located in Harrison County, Rusk County, Titus County and several other Texas counties. Several mining operations are located between Marshall, Tatum and Henderson in East Texas.
Who knew that about Texas?
I got back to the camp just as the rain began, and it has been raining ever since. Since it was supposed to have rained all afternoon, I lucked out today.
I’ll get my pictures edited tomorrow, hopefully, and get them posted to Picassa.