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Texas Granite

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US 377 in Mason County, from Mason west to Streeter. This section of highway passes through jumbled fields of pink granite boulders where topaz lurks.

US 87 north from Mason for 10 miles, to Camp Air; then FM 1222 east 12 miles to Fredonia; then FM 386 south to Mason. Just east of Camp Air is Katemcy, named for a Comanche Indian chief. Here, huge expanses of pink granite stretch south of the highway. As you near Fredonia, the road passes the Rowan Granite Quarry, visible on the north side of the highway. Soon after leaving Fredonia, as you return to Mason, look west for glimpses of Spy Rock, a lofty pink granite dome. A county road takes you to its base, but the dome itself is on private property and not open to the public.

FM 965 north from Fredericksburg to Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. About four miles north of Fredericksburg, on the right, looms Bear Mountain, a dark-red granite hill exposed by erosion of the limestone deposited over it. A quarry still operates here. Huge blocks of granite line the public picnic area along the highway on the mountain’s north side.

Farther on, the view of Enchanted Rock from a hill to its south is one of the finest in Texas. Enchanted Rock is said to be the second-largest batholith (rock formed underground and exposed by erosion) in the United States, second only to Georgia’s Stone Mountain. Just as every Texan who loves history must visit the Alamo, every lover of pink granite must scale Enchanted Rock. It’s a great place to see how exfoliation peels layers of granite from the dome. (That’s how all those huge boulders perched on its shoulders got there.)

FM 3404 in Llano County where it crosses the Llano River, a mile and a half west of FM 1431. Known locally as “The Slab,” where the river runs over pink granite bedrock, this is a popular swimming and tubing place. You’re on public property as long as you stay within the riverbed.

The Devil’s Waterhole in Burnet County’s Inks Lake State Park. Accessible by boat or by a footpath from a parking area near campsites 247 and 248, this popular swimming hole features a formation of Valley Spring gneiss (or metamorphosed granite) over a deep hole of water that sparkles with flakes of mica released from weathered granite.

Park Road 4, FM 2342, and FM 1431, from Buchanan Dam to Inks Lake State Park, to Longhorn Cavern State Park, to Marble Falls. This drive showcases Hill Country scenery and pink granite at their combined best.

Buildings mentioned in the July issue\'s story are only a sampling of the structures in the state constructed wholly or in part of pink granite. Austin is especially rich in examples; the following are just a few to start your search.

100 Congress Avenue

8300 Mopac Boulevard

811 Barton Springs Road

919 Congress Avenue

State Capitol Complex—Along with the Capitol, numerous state office buildings in the area bounded by Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, San Jacinto Boulevard, Eleventh Street, and Lavaca Street feature granite. The Texas Granite company's display area contains more than 100 panels of granite, which represent every kind of stone the company produces from its 10 Texas quarries and more than 20 other quarries nationwide. The company sells scrap granite in various sizes. Prices range from $1 to several hundred dollars per piece. The gates usually open Mon-Fri 7-4 and Sat 7-noon. The entrance is on FM 1431, just west of Marble Falls. Write to Box 2540, Granite Shoals 78654; 830/598-6570.

To see the rarest of all granites, llanite, visit the Badu House, at 601 Bessemer (Texas 16) in Llano. Built by an early promoter of the area's stone resources, it houses a bed and breakfast, restaurant, and club. The llanite bar was installed in the 1980s. Room rates range from $65 to $95 per night. The bar and restaurant are wheelchair accessible; the lodging (upstairs) is not. Write to 601 Bessemer, Llano 78643; 915/247-1207.

Read 3927 times Last modified on Friday, 13 July 2012 13:06

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