Thursday, 17 January 2008

Turn left at the next Junction for London...

The route yesterday took Mark from Ozona via Sonora and on to Junction where he finally parted company with the I 10 and headed north east to the improbably named London. Ozona, with a population of around 4000 is the county seat of Crockett county. Although Davy Crockett never set foot in this part of Texas, the county was named after the legendary frontiersman who died at the Alamo. This monument in Ozona reminds the locals of the connection. According to the Ozona Chamber of Commerce website "ranching and the oil and gas businesses keep the economy of the hinterland and the town steady ".

East of Ozona it is still very much oil country...... So far we have given very little consideration as to why oil is found over such a large part of Texas. The answer lies in geological history - organic material trapped in layers of sedimetary rock being converted through heat and pressure into liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons. These, because they are lighter than rock or water, migrate up through the layers of rock often becoming trapped in porous rocks beneath impermeable rocks forming a reservoir or oil field from which the petroleum can be drilled or pumped....... or something like that! If you are really keen to learn more, I suggest you read this.
The sedimentary rocks in question in this part of Texas include limestone and just west of Sonora and a few miles south of the I 10 are the Caverns of Sonora - a vast cave system dissolved through the limestone by subterranean drainage systems which have now disappeared, leaving passageways and caves on four different levels in which flowstones and various other calcite formations have formed over thousands of years.

Above ground the land use towards Sonora is still dominated by 'Texas tea' as the following image shows... However, according to this source which contains a very good potted history of Sonora, oil and gas exploration peaked in the 1970s and the town of Sonora had a population of almost 6000 in 1977. Just thirty years later the population has halved. Despite that, the Sonoran Chamber of Commerce puts an up-beat slant on the area's economy. .. "The principal source of income is the oil and gas industry and related service companies. Other income is derived from agriculture, tourism, and retail business".

The local hospital is the Lillian Hudspeth Memorial Hospital and I include a photo as I like the optimism of a hospital calling itself a 'wellness centre"!

East of Sonora there is a discernible change in the landscape when viewed from the air.

After mile upon mile of extensive ranching, there are finally signs of cultivation!

At the aptly named Junction ( focus of no fewer than six routes) , Mark left the I10 and headed NE on Highway 377. You can read the explanation for this apparent detour on today's web diary on the Artemis site. Junction is located on the Llano river - a tributary of the Texan Colorado. Rivers seem quite a novelty after the absence of surface drainage we've seen along the route of Mark's journey in the last few days...... ... and the inhabitants of Junction clearly appreciate its signifcance too!

18 miles north east of Junction is London Town! (Explanation here). mark camped just north of there last night.

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