Category Archives: Darcy

Texas: Grapevine Lake

December morning at Katie’s Woods, Grapevine Lake.

Grapevine Lake is an artificial reservoir in the Trinity River basin northwest of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. The lake lies in north Grapevine near the border of Denton County and Tarrant County on Denton Creek, a tributary of the Elm Fork of the Trinity River. The reservoir, which was built for flood control, is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In 1945 the federal government authorized the lake to tame Denton Creek, which overflowed every spring. And so the condemning of land began—some 12,000 acres. Where the lake now stands once dairy and produce farms flourished. As one historian recalled, people were angry and suspicious, but they had no choice. They said it was progress. Some residents had lived on Denton Creek all their lives and it pained them to see their homes moved, most to the neighboring town of Grapevine. 

Construction of the lake began in March 1945 with the 12,850-foot dam started in January 1948. Both the dam and lake were completed in 1952 at a cost of $11.8 million. 

Locals were told that it would take 10 years for the lake to fill, but as the locals predicted, it filled during the first big rain. After all, the bottomlands reside in the Trinity River floodplain. 

Sailboats on a cloudy October day at Grapevine Lake.

In fact, the lake filled so fast that after 62 years pieces of machinery still rest undisturbed at the bottom of the lake: a mammoth gravel washer and a towering conveyor, as well as a tractor and two dump trucks.

The towns that surround Grapevine Lake are Grapevine, Southlake, Trophy Club, Roanoke, and Flower Mound, but only three municipalities have water rights to the lake: the city of Grapevine, the city of Dallas, and the Dallas County Park Cities—Highland Park and University Park.

Not only is Lake Grapevine a water source for the above mentioned cities, it is also a recreational wonderland. Learn more: Grapevine Parks and Recreation Master Plan. 

CLON-X Excerpt

Trail Mirror Installed By Park Workers

Chapter 1

Fifteen-year-old Payton Lord peddled faster and faster, small legs pumping high, knees thumping her chest. The burn in her calves worked its way up her thighs and into her hips, but she pressed on, pushing Ruby, her new ten-speed, to its limits. She mustn’t be late. Not today, or her stepdad would end sleepovers at Sally’s, something Payton couldn’t bear. The two had been inseparable since kindergarten even though Payton’s stepfather disapproved of their friendship. Quinn wasn’t the sort to approve of anyone in his family—even a step-daughter—spending time with a girl from the wrong side of the tracks.

Payton tried to concentrate on her surroundings, anything to forget the pain in her legs. Why hadn’t she left sooner? She glanced at her new watch, a birthday present from Quinn, an expensive reminder to be home on time. No excuses now, he had repeated until she wanted to throw the gift in his face. Everything came with a condition. Who cared if she wasn’t like most kids glued to their iPad or iPhone? She owned both, again thanks to her stepdad, and both had the ability to tell time, as he constantly lectured her.

As the minutes passed, the afternoon grew warmer and a suffocating humidity set in, making the ride miserable as Ruby glided downhill toward the covered bridge on Bear Creek. She sped across and cruised under the highway overpass, mindful of the slick surface. Her wheels churned up sheets of water, drainage from a nearby culvert as it emptied into the creek. Why did the ride to Sally’s house never feel as long as the trip home?

Home. The word had a comforting tone, but there wasn’t anything comforting about it. She brushed the thought aside and concentrated on the switchbacks. These trails gave her an escape from reality. If she made a stupid move and it ended in a serious injury, she’d be kept from them for too long.

As she neared Bear Creek Park, the duck ponds popped into view—the halfway point. She inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, enjoying the musky scent of rotting vegetation as she winged her way east. Only she, many said, liked the rank odor of decomposing leaf matter. It reminded her of good times, hikes along the Trinity River levees, fall leaves trapped in the stagnant pools of water. To her, these were life’s treasures, nature at its finest.

Payton jetted past the manmade lakes. No mallards. Only Canadian geese dotted the banks. At one time, these birds were harbingers of spring, but now they had made Texas their permanent home.

She broke from the shade to a hot June sun. It seemed like just yesterday when the city had decorated the trees along the trails with gauzy spider webs, skeletons, and all sorts of scary stuff in preparation for Fright Night, none of which spooked her. The only thing she loved more than Halloween was summer, spending time outdoors with all nature offered—close to God’s creatures, basking under a cloudless sky, hiking in the woods, or searching for interesting bugs to photograph with her new digital SLR. 

As she descended a curve in the trail, Payton pulled free of her toe clips, rested her forearms on the handlebars, and coasted down the winding path. Sweat beaded on her upper lip and dripped from her brow.

She blew by her old school and rumbled over another wooden bridge. The creek below lurked dark and ominous. The next stretch, all uphill, loomed ahead, but first she had to negotiate the sharp curves of the second underpass. The park workers had installed a mirror at the entrance to the narrow trail, but people still got hurt at least once a month. She coasted, ready to brake for walkers or rollerbladers, although she didn’t expect many at this hour of the day. 

Overhead, the rush of cross-traffic on Bear Creek Parkway drowned out most noise as she sailed out of the crammed underpass and began her ascent. She peddled harder, harder, harder, quickly building speed. The momentum launched her up the first slope and halfway up the second hill, the ache in her legs almost unbearable, but at the top of the rise, the payoff awaited. From there, it was all downhill to home.   


Texas: Keller, Part 2

Fort Worth on the Trinity River

Keller, Texas, located in the Eastern Cross Timbers region, is on U.S. Highway 377 approximately fifteen miles north of Fort Worth in northeast Tarrant County. The town was settled in the early 1850s, although some pioneers had come to the area prior to this date. One of the earlier settlers was Daniel Barcroft who founded Mount Gilead Baptist Church in 1852. One street near the church is named after him, but was misspelled and reads Bancroft Road.

In 1879, rumors spread that the Texas and Pacific Railway planned to push into the northern district of the county prompting more pioneers to gravitate to the region to be close to the railway route. They called their settlement Athol.

Hoping to have a permanent stop on the line, and supposedly at the urging of a Texas Pacific official named Keller, the settlers agreed to name their town Keller if Athol became a stop on the rail line. Evidently, Athol got their whistle-stop. In 1882 the town abstracts show the town as Keller.

Earlier settlers described the Cross Timbers region as being a dense forest of oaks, so impenetrable that they could not pass on horseback without felling some trees. Here the new Texans built homes, grew their gardens, raised peaches and pears, and—hogs—for the area had a plentiful supply of acorns from all the oak trees. Grapevines grew wild and profuse and the close proximity of the Trinity River supplied them with game, but more importantly the water source they needed for cattle raising and farming. 

Today, those early pioneers have long departed this earth, but I have to wonder, did they leave behind a feral legacy? You decide: Southlake Feral Hog Population

Side note: At 710 miles long, the Trinity is the longest river that flows exclusively in the state of Texas. Its four branches include the West Fork, Clear Fork, Elm Fork and East Fork.