Sunday, May 10, 2020

Texas, The Limestone State?

I went to Texas to attend a writers conference, and when I landed, Covid-19 beat me there. The conference fell apart. It’s a long story but everyone was concerned. Some of the workshops were cancelled, and the other workshops the presenters never showed. But I had fun with fellow western writer and great friend, Cynthia Woolf. We used the time as a writing retreat.
The Alamo (Note: the fancy carving in the stone)
I also fried my computer and my phone. That’s what I get for not bringing a power strip/surge protector for my equipment. When I was packing to leave for Texas, I looked at my second/old laptop and I almost brought it with me but I didn’t. I wish I had. 
            I learned quite a bit and stayed for weeks on historical Fort Clark. My stay was longer than I expected because I couldn’t fly home. Fortunately I was with friends that are like family so it really was a restful stay.
            But before I went to Fort Clark, I visited the Alamo and of course did the River
Walk in San Antonio. I was fascinated with the Alamo and not for the reasons you might think. The Alamo is under restoration. Apparently it needs a little grooming now and then and they decided to take the time and really do it right. What they will learn by putting the Alamo through a very careful exam will help preserve other buildings.
The Alamo
When troops were stationed there, they left a little graffiti behind. That was uncovered. Okay, that was fun, but what I really enjoyed was standing there reading about what they were doing and why - add to that a docent who was very informative. There were small, drilled holes in the mortar. They are taking air samples, temperature samples, and humidity samples. Checking this area against that area and trying decipher why this area is stronger than that.They were using ultrasound equipment on the stone walls. (Wow!) I was fascinated with the modern day things that they were doing. I wish I could have seen the people actually doing it.
Texas is known for these old limestone buildings. There’s a huge quarry not far from Fort Clark. The old buildings on the fort are made of this same stuff. But maybe the most amazing thing is how these buildings are put together. They look like giraffe markings, quite unlike the granite blocks I’m used to seeing in the Appalachians. Where squares are cut and fitted together like you see when foundations are built of brick or cinder blocks. I’ve done some brickwork and I’ve tiled a few things so I know how difficult that is to keep everything square and well balanced. This limestone stuff is like a crazy quilt. It must take a very skilled mason to do it. And it’s still being done today.
The Texas limestone I saw was a very creamy color not yellow but had that tinge of
Historic Fort Clark and an Old Saw
yellow to the cream. It’s a soft color. It lends itself perfectly to the landscape and all the green parts of nature, but it also becomes the subtle backdrop for all the bright Mexican pottery and decorations. Everything pops against it. Nature does provide the best materials and I think I’ve fallen in love with Texas limestone.
The other thing I noticed was what I would call a hacienda-style home. The older ones all seem to have small windows. Apparently that hot Texas sun can heat up a home. Before there was air conditioning, keeping the house cool meant avoiding large windows. I’m sure a good architect can build that style house with lots of windows because an architect will use the positioning of the property, the direction of the house, and the angle of the sun to block that intense heat from entering while letting in plenty of light.
Officers Quarters and Now a Private Residence (They built walls and houses with that stone)
I can’t be certain, but I suspect that the thickness of the block also becomes a natural thermo-system. But the time summer is done the stones will have heated enough to carry into the cold winter before they cool off. This cold stone will have plenty of time come spring to help keep the heat at bay.
I remember being in old cathedrals in Europe and they were never heated or air-conditioned. But they were cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It would take months before the cold stones would heat up and by then it was winter and they kept the place warm. By the time they had cooled, it was summer once again. I suspect the limestone might be the same.
If you’ve ever admired the markings of a giraffe, you just might fall in love with these houses. They’d be out of place back east. I can’t imagine one in my neighborhood but still I would love to own one. Maybe I’ll have to move to Texas.
The Barracks now a Motel for Visitors.


  1. Love this blog site. So many interesting and informative posts like this one. thanks

    1. Gini, this blog is made up of very talented authors who do their best to keep their stories accurate. We all spend time researching and we learn from each other. But we try to share with those who love to read historical westerns novels so that they know the difference when they pick up a book.


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