Don't miss the giveaway at the end of the post!
Research is a large part of a writer’s world, especially when he or she writes historical novels. I confess I love delving into a subject and have trouble keeping on task. One of the fun parts is the day trip through North Texas' mountains.
Years ago my husband and I took a trip to Palo Pinto County, Texas for a driving tour and that’s when I fell in love with the area. No, actually I already loved driving through the valleys and the mountains that look more like hills. This tour, however, convinced me this was an area in which I would set many books. So far, I have two series set here—Stone Mountain and Bride Brigade—and a time travel, OUT OF THE BLUE.
|Valley view on Johnson's League Ranch|
As I mentioned, to most people, these would be considered hills, but geologically, they are true mountains. Don’t ask me why, I’m just a writer. There are many picturesque areas and I enjoy driving through at any time of year. Now, however, is a prime time because the leaves are changing. You find it’s easy to see why the Native Americans dubbed the trees “painted posts”.
Although many live oaks dot the forests, most trees are smaller scrub oaks which turn colors and lose their leaves. Live oaks lose leaves, but they’re quickly replaced and have dark green leaves year around, hence the name. Also in the area are cedars and they provided fence posts material as well as small logs for cabins. Add in a smattering of cottonwood, hackberry, bois d'arc, and elm.
In Palo Pinto County are many springs, the most famous of which is the "crazy water well" near Mineral Wells. According to accounts, a family with a mentally disturbed wife moved to the area and the husband dug a well. While drinking that water, the woman was cured. It should be called sane water, but that doesn’t have the ring to it that crazy water does.
|Historic reproduction of cabin and well in Palo Pinto County|
The original well went through a lithium deposit and that provided relief to the woman’s condition. People came for miles to get water from that well. To this day, Crazy Water Crystals are available for sale. Frankly, I doubt these are from the lithium well due to the FDA controlling that substance. Likely they are useful as little more than laxatives from minerals. The town isn't named Mineral Wells for no reason.
One of my favorite ranches is the Belding-Gibson Ranch, which has a spring that never dries up and was a favorite Native American campground. This is a beautiful ranch that has been continuously run by the Belding family and descendants since 1859. The original cedar log cabin dating to 1854 has been incorporated into the ranch home, as has the smokehouse and the dog trot and second cabin. Fortunately, this family is lovingly protecting their heritage and have been generous in sharing with the public.
|The Gibson home on the Belding-Gibson Ranch,|
which includes the original cabins
I enjoy this county, although I’m glad I live in a Fort Worth suburb with all the shopping and medical conveniences I prefer. While visiting Palo Pinto, I can visualize life as it was in the last half of the nineteenth century. A drive there sets my imagination cog wheels turning and generating new ideas faster than I can write them.
Do you have special areas that inspire you? I’ll give away a copy of my first Bride Brigade romance, JOSEPHINE, to one person who comments today.
Thanks for visiting today. Don't forget to comment if you want to be included in the drawing for a copy of JOSEPHINE!
Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling and award winning author of historical and contemporary western romances. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.
Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys family, reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, painting, and getting together with friends. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and Pinterest.
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Photos by author; cover by Skhye Moncrief.