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Fw: [Candyman] Depleted Texas lakes expose ghost towns, graves

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  • Jewelle Baker
    Hello Group...... Read the below info from Sally....... very interesting!! Jewelle jewelle@coastalnet.com jewellebaker@suddenlink.net GenealogyPITT Co NC
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 21, 2011
      Hello Group......
      Read the below info from Sally....... very interesting!!
      Jewelle

      jewelle@...
      jewellebaker@...
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      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Monday, November 21, 2011 8:37 AM
      Subject: Depleted Texas lakes expose ghost towns, graves

      Texas finished its driest 12 months ever with an average of 8.5 inches of
      rain through September, nearly 13 inches below normal

      BLUFFTON, Texas — Johnny C. Parks died two days before his first birthday
      more than a century ago. His grave slipped from sight along with the rest of
      the tiny town of Bluffton when Lake Buchanan was filled 55 years later.

      Now, the cracked marble tombstone engraved with the date Oct. 15, 1882,
      which is normally covered by 20 to 30 feet of water, has been eerily exposed
      as a yearlong drought shrinks one of Texas' largest lakes.

      Across the state, receding lakes have revealed a prehistoric skull, ancient
      tools, fossils and a small cemetery that appears to contain the graves of
      freed slaves. Some of the discoveries have attracted interest from local
      historians, and looters also have scavenged for pieces of history. More than
      two dozen looters have been arrested at one site.

      "In an odd way, this drought has provided an opportunity to view and
      document, where appropriate, some of these finds and understand what they
      consist of," said Pat Mercado-Allinger, the Texas Historical Commission's
      archeological division director. "Most people in Texas probably didn't
      realize what was under these lakes."

      Texas finished its driest 12 months ever with an average of 8.5 inches of
      rain through September, nearly 13 inches below normal. Water levels in the
      region's lakes, most of which were manmade, have dropped by more than a
      dozen feet in many cases.

      The vanishing water has revealed the long-submerged building foundations of
      Woodville, Okla., which was flooded in 1944 when the Red River was dammed to
      form Lake Texoma. A century-old church has emerged at Falcon Lake, which
      straddles the Texas-Mexico border on the Rio Grande.

      Steven Standke and his wife, Carol, drove to the old Bluffton site on a
      sandy rutted path that GPS devices designate not as a road but the middle of
      the 22,335-acre lake, normally almost 31 miles long and five miles wide.

      "If you don't see it now, you might never see it again," said Carol Standke,
      of Center Point, as she and her husband inspected the ruins a mile from
      where concrete seawalls ordinarily would keep the lake from waterfront homes

      Old Bluffton has been exposed occasionally during times of drought. The
      receding waters have revealed concrete foundations of a two-story hotel,
      scales of an old cotton gin, a rusting tank and concrete slabs from a Texaco
      station that also served as a general store. The tallest structure is what's
      left of the town well, an open-topped concrete cube about 4 feet high.
      Johnny Parks' tombstone is among a few burial sites.

      Local historian Alfred Hallmark, whose great-great-great grandfather helped
      establish Bluffton, said his research showed 389 graves were moved starting
      in 1931 when dam construction began. That's the same year Bluffton's 40 or
      50 residents started moving several miles west to the current Bluffton,
      which today amounts to a convenience store and post office at a lonely
      highway intersection serving 200 residents.

      Residents had to leave their ranches and abandon precious pecan trees, some
      of which produced more than 1,000 pounds of nuts each year. "It was
      devastating," said Hallmark, 70, a retired teacher, of the move. "They had
      no choice."

      Other depleted lakes across Texas are revealing much older artifacts. More
      than two dozen looters have been arrested at Lake Whitney, about 50 miles
      south of Fort Worth, for removing Native American tools and fossils that
      experts believe could be thousands of years old.

      The Army Corps of Engineers, which oversees Lake Whitney, is patrolling a
      number of areas that contain artifacts, including some rock shelters once
      filled with water, said Abraham Phillips, natural resources specialist with
      the agency.

      At Lake Georgetown near Austin, fishermen discovered what experts determined
      was the skull of an American Indian buried for hundreds or thousands of
      years. It's not clear what will become of the skull, said Kate Spradley, a
      Texas State University assistant anthropology professor who is keeping it
      temporarily in a lab. Strict federal laws governing American Indian burial
      sites bar excavations to search for other remains.

      No such restrictions exist for the nearly two dozen unmarked graves
      discovered this summer in a dried-up section of a Navarro County reservoir.
      Some coffin lids are visible just under the dirt. Crews plan to excavate the
      site about 50 miles south of Dallas and move the remains to a cemetery, said
      Bruce McManus, chairman of the county's historical commission. He said the
      area of Richland-Chambers Lake is on property formerly owned by a slave
      owner.

      "This is a once-in-a-lifetime find ... and maybe the only silver lining in
      the ongoing drought," McManus said.
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