The stories behind the Drive drive story in Texas Monthly
Here’s some of the back stories to fill in the blanks from the Drive drive I did for Texas Monthly’s Drive issue, June 2012
The PRE DRIVE part of the drive:
INTERSTATE 10 WEST
“The Land of Living Waters” earns its name from the hundreds of springs in the area and from the North Llano and South Llano rivers which converge here. The South Llano River State Park, three and a half miles south of town offers tubing, swimming, fishing, and paddling, as well as camping, picnicking, hiking, cycling, and birding opportunities, while a number of ranches as well as motels offer accommodations Lum’s Country Store and a Cooper’s serve top-shelf barbecue in town.
For more information: junctiontexas.net
Cool radio (except when they run Rush): KOOK, 93.5 FM, The Real Deal, a local station beaming from Ozona that plays retro country music with a great morning show hosted by Gordon Ames and Kinky Friedman doing the station IDs.
SIMON BROTHERS MERCHANTILE, Exit 438, 18 miles west of Junction and a mile north of the highway, is worth a looksee to soak up the general store atmosphere, get some coffee, a drink or a burger in the café in back, admire the deer trophy heads on the wall, or pick up copies of Racks pinup calendars featuring pretty, scantily clad young women posing with deer antlers and a Keep Roosevelt Wild bumper sticker. Not for nothing is this The Horniest Little Store in Texas.
3861 State Loop 291, 325-446-2604 Simonbros.org
SONORA, Exit 400, marks the halfway point of Interstate 10 across Texas. The Old Ice House Ranch Museum, Old Ice House Ranch Museum, 206 S. Water Ave., 325-387-5084, tells the town’s history and features exhibits on Will Carver of the Wild Bunch gang, who met his demise here, and water drilling, which made this part of Texas habitable. Open Wed-Fri 1-4 pm, Sat, 10 to noon and 1-4pm, or by appointment. Donations appreciated. The Eaton Hill Wildlife Sanctuary and Nature Center offers three miles of hiking trails on its 37 acre spread which shows off flora and fauna from the Hill Country and the Chihuahuan Desert, which converge here. Open sunup to sundown. Free. 500 City Hill Rd., 325-387-2615, eatonhill.blogspot.com
For more information: sonoratexas.org
CAVERNS OF SONORA The Caverns of Sonora, Exit 392 eight miles beyond the town of Sonora and 7 miles south of the interstate, is the premier show cave in Texas and easily on par with Carlsbad Caverns as one of the most magnificent in the world, give its abundance of helictite calcite crystal formations. Guided walking tours and specialty tours are scheduled throughout the day. The basic two hour tours is $20 for adults. Camping and RV hookups available. Open daily 8-6. 325-387-3105, cavernsofsonora.com
CIRCLE BAR TRUCK CORRAL A small automobile museum with custom rods and pickups is attached to the Circle Bar Truck Corral, Exit 372 Taylor Box Rd, 7 miles before Ozona. Taylor Box Road, 325-392-2637
THE DRIVE DRIVE begins here:
OZONA, Exit 365, has the last dependable gas, DQ, and Subway of this journey. The Visitor Center Park on the south side of the Interstate has 24 hour restrooms along with information about local attractions. The Crockett County Museum, 408 11th Street, 325-392-2837, crockettcountymuseum.com , M-F 9-5, Sa 10-3pm, tells the local history, focusing on the early pioneer settlers. $2 donation is requested. A statue of Davy Crockett, the county’s namesake, is at the south end of the town square.
For more information: Ozona.com
FORT LANCASTER HISTORICAL SITE
This frontier military fort, established on Live Oak Creek in 1855, thrived for six years until the start of the War Between the States, providing protection to travelers and freight haulers on the Government Road from hostile Indians. The 82 acre park stewarded by the Texas Historical Commission, has a visitor center with a stagecoach out front and a fine exhibit inside detailing life at the fort. Behind the center are the ruins of the fort which make for a splendid 2.5 mile walk if the weather cooperates (it can be torrid hot here in the summer). 9-5 daily. Admission: $4 adults. 432-836-4391, Visitfortlancaster.com
SHEFFIELD boomed in the 1920s with the discovery of oil, but took on an all-but-abandoned look once the nearby Interstate was finished in the 1980s. Despite a growing population of 600, motels, restaurants, and other traveler services have dried up and blown away. At 1:30 pm on a weekday, the sole service station with an Open sign was locked, with a note attached to the door “Closed until 2 pm. If you need something, call….”
SANDERSON is the self-declared Cactus Capital of Texas. The collection of stucco and adobe buildings suggest desert, while the architecture of the former Kerr Mercantile building is a Trost & Trost classic from the Chicago School. Several restaurants and four motels provide the essentials. The Terrell County Visitor Center on US 90 East, 432-345-2324, has all the details. Sanderson also has a shuttle service for Lower Canyons river trips on the Rio Grande. A mile-long nature trail connects the high school football field track to Javelina Hill, a scenic overlook above the town.
For more information: Sandersontx.org