Walking in the Steps of Dinosaurs

During my middle-school years in the early 1960’s, we lived in the small southwest Texas town of Hondo… about an hour west of San Antonio. As anyone who has visited knows, the Texas Hill Country is the best part of the state. I am not being biased.

My best friend’s family lived a few houses away and also owned a small ranch north of town, deep in the hills, south of Tarpley. They had a few head of cattle and some sheep but the land was too rough for many, so raised goats on the rest, just letting them roam. For some reason, goats love rough terrain with plenty of plants to eat and rocks to climb on. There were a lot of goats in the Hill Country. Still are.

left of the ranch house, we walked north in this dry creek riverbed

A few times, I rode along when Doug and his Dad made a trip to the ranch to put out some feed or do some other chore. Even though it meant a little work, there was usually time for us to explore while his Dad took care of other things. Between the hills near their ranch house, a riverbed wound its way among oak and mesquite trees and cedar shrubs. If there was a big rain upstream, water would actually flow for a while but it was usually a “dry creek”.

I have no photos; they looked like these (also from the region)

Along and in the solid rock riverbed were dozens of dinosaur tracks.

Sauropods and theropods, we were told, walked the region eons earlier. These were large, tall creatures that could weigh tons. Stepping into clay, which then became bedrock, they left evidence of roaming in search of food.

We walked along many of these trails, imagining what the animal was doing… what the surrounding land and plants must have looked like. Somehow, touching the outline of an animal’s foot created millennia ago made an impression… a connection.

It was like touching flint arrowheads and pondering their existence, studying the edges and bevel of one and asking…

arrowhead (arrow point)
  • Who made it?
  • How long did it take to make it?
  • How long did it take to learn to make one?
  • How long did it take for the first person to imagine making one?

As recently as 75 years earlier, raiding Indians (and Mexican bandoleros) were an issue a few miles west and there were active forts. In my own day, some in the area were even related to tribal Indians, most through (gasp) marriage.

On cloudless farm nights, the stars are so bright and clear. Even as a boy, I used to ponder the significance of any one person on this planet at any given time.

Dinosaurs once dominated the area, only to be reduced to pockets of oil. Native American Indians developed a craft in order to survive in nature, and now those skills have disappeared. What will be the legacy of “modern man”?