With a state the size of Texas, it is not surprising that numerous national parks, preserves, and monuments draw tourists and locals alike. A variety of unique natural vistas can be found in Texas, including cypress-lined bayous, lunar-like desert desolation, towering pine woods, infinite stretches of golden prairie and green-brown farms, and lush hills rising out of the flatlands.
Texas is the second-largest U.S. state, and its four corners have something special to offer travelers. Of course, since we’re talking about Texas, parks and historical sites are dedicated to honoring battles, Spanish missions, and frontier forts. We already know much about the Big Bend and the Guadalupe Mountains National Parks, but how about the national monuments in the Lone Star State?
No matter what our fields of study or interests are, visiting historical sites can encourage a deeper understanding of historical events and give us the chance to understand people who came before us. Texas is more than just rodeos and grills; many tales have been created on this land, and national monuments serve as concrete evidence. This article explores the national monuments in Texas and other fascinating facts.
What is the Difference Between a National Park and a National Monument?
The line between sites designated as national parks and national monuments may seem limited to the untrained eye. The main distinction lies in the reason behind land preservation: national parks are safeguarded because of their beautiful, inspiring, educational, and recreational significance, whereas national monuments have a wide variety of historical, cultural, and/or scientific artifacts. National monuments, for instance, save structures like the Ford’s Theatre, where President Lincoln was killed, as well as wilderness areas like Muir Woods, fossil sites, military forts, ruins like the Gila Cliff Dwellings, and military fortifications.
The second key distinction between national monuments and national parks is how they are established. Following the Antiquities Act of 1906, the President of the United States declares national monuments. On the other hand, Congress passes a law establishing national parks. Both national parks and national monuments must be situated on property the federal government owns or controls, and a national park is frequently established by Congress around an existing national monument.
Size is the final key distinction between national monuments and national parks. National monuments may be any size, but they must be the smallest possible to ensure that the object in question is properly cared for and managed. In summary, national monuments should be the only thing of significance and should receive less funding than national parks.
In contrast, national parks are very different. There is a predetermined minimum size prerequisite, and these parks’ main objective is to protect the area’s natural, cultural, and educational assets. In addition, they offer a place where visitors can engage in leisure activities like boating, camping, and picnicking, which benefits the local economy by attracting tourists.
2 National Monuments in Texas
1. Alibates Flint Quarries
Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, located in the panhandle of Texas close to Amarillo, presents a distinctive landscape and a fascinating past. It was the beginning of a remarkable tale that now blends history and nature. As you may infer from the name, this region is abundant with a stone known as flint. For thousands of years, beginning with the mammoth hunters who used the rock for their spears and tools, the region’s rich, rainbow-colored flint has attracted mankind. It was prized for its splendor and strength; prehistoric people carved knives and arrow tips from this vibrant stone to use when hunting and to exchange for other commodities.
The vibrant flint in the Texas Panhandle never lost value or purpose over the centuries. The flints, which come from a 10-square-mile area centered on around 60 acres in the Alibates Flint Quarries National Monument, are actually agatized dolomite. They were manually mined in over 700 quarries, and artifacts crafted from Alibates flint have been discovered throughout the Great Plains and Southwest.
The Alibates flint is on exhibit at the visitor center, and visitors may also take a ranger-led tour to learn more about the Native Americans who utilized it thousands of years ago and to see the quarry sites on top of one of the mesas. The monument’s petroglyphs, dating back to 1100 A.D., can also be seen during ranger-led tours. The monument is a fantastic location to see wildflowers from spring through late fall, and tours are offered there from April through October.
2. Waco Mammoth
Mammoths were amazing beasts that could reach a height of 14 feet and weighed 20,000 pounds. It’s unbelievable to think that mammoths once roamed what is now Texas. The Waco Mammoth National Monument, a paleontological site that guards the sole nursery herd of Columbian mammoths in the nation, is arguably the most unexpected national monument in Texas. It’s a relatively new park, but its environment has been around for a long time. There is a habitat for many animals and a river used for thousands of years by camels, saber-toothed cats, and Columbian mammoths. The park’s natural treasures offer a little window into a world teeming with life during the Ice Age.
For almost 3 decades, central Texans’ imaginations have been captivated by the tale of the Waco mammoths. The fossils of these enormous creatures were left undisturbed until 1978 when Paul Barron and Eddie Bufkin found the first bone poking out of an eroding creek bank and reported it to the Strecker Museum staff at Baylor University. The petrified remains of 16 Columbian mammoths, a nursery herd that appeared to have perished collectively in a single incident, were discovered between 1978 and 1990. Between 1990 and 1997, the crew discovered six more mammoths, in addition to the bones of a Western camel, dwarf antelope, American alligator, huge tortoise, and the tooth of a young saber-toothed cat. Although the exact cause of these creatures’ demise is unknown, a flash flood is one theory.
The Featured Image
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.
- National Park Service, Available here: https://www.nps.gov/state/tx/index.htm
- Tripsavvy, Available here: https://www.tripsavvy.com/national-parks-monuments-and-preserves-in-texas-5091908
- Territory Supply, Available here: https://www.territorysupply.com/national-parks-texas