Friday, November 4, 2016

George Bush Park - Part 2 (The History)

This is a follow up to the previous post and give a little more detail on the park.  George Bush Park used to be part of the LH7 ranch.  In it's heyday of the 20's and 30's the ranch used to occupy 33,000 acres.  This was one of the biggest and probably the last large ranch in the Houston area.  In the 1940's the Corps of Engineers purchased a large part of what remained of the ranch to create the Barker Reservoir as flood control for Buffalo Bayou and to prevent flooding issues downstream. 

There is an interesting article on the ranch and family that owned the land before the 1940's that can be found here:

There is also a delightful book on the history of the ranch and the surrounding area that I can totally recommend:

Deborah Lightfoot Sizemore, author of the 1991 book The LH7 Ranch: In Houston's Shadow.  I believe that the book is now available as a free ebook download.

Prior to settlers moving into the Katy area, the area was occupied by Orcoquiza Indians, who hunted buffalo in the area in the 1700s.  Apparently they were decimated by disease before settlers moved into the area.  Karankawa Indians may also have had a nomadic existence through the area.  They were documented to have been up to as far as 100 miles inland from the coast and there is evidence that shows they were found as far inland as Eagle Lake.

There are documented reports of Indian burial grounds, arrowheads and pottery being found by the Corps of Engineers Archaeologists before the reservoir was completed.  Apparently these were not made public in an attempt to prevent looting.  There are also references to Indian artifacts in the LH7 book.  I have found a couple of arrowheads within the park, but no pottery.

Nowadays the park has easy walking and bike trails, as well as some large drainage ditches.  These ditches are good for finding Herons and Egrets, Alligators and Snakes.  There are some large carp in the ditches but as yet I haven't found the time to go after them, it's one of those things that every time I see large carp, I say to myself, I must come and catch a few of those.  But I never seem to get around to it.

Some winter visitors:

Vesper Sparrow