Heritage, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 1990 Page: 18
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TOP: Acetylene generating plant building of willow sticks and daub.
ABOVE: Raised garden bed.
labor invested in sheep husbandry was
immense. In the 1920s, thousands of sheep
were dipped every fourteen days to deter
scabies. The shearing shed held eighteen
drops, each ten to twelve feet long and run
by pulleys and wheels. At the end was a
long hardware cloth table where the wool
was picked for burrs, manure, or stains,
then rolled, bagged, and tied with paper
cord for storage in the barn until sold. The
shearing season lasted thirty to forty-five
days so the temporary workers cooked and
18 HERITAGE * SPRING 1990
slept in an adjacent shed with picket construction
walls, a roof, and a small fireplace
which still stands.
E.K. Fawcett died in 1941; his wife,
Frances, moved to town in 1956. The
ranch was divided among their heirs, each
section with its own headquarters. In 1988,
the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
acquired 22,000 acres of the original
ranch, including Dolan Springs and a
stretch of the Devils River. The ranch
headquarters complex now stands only a
few hundred yards outside the entrance to
the newly acquired Devils River State
Natural Area. The Fawcett family's efforts
to preserve the ranch headquarters by
placing it in public hands have been
Historically, the Fawcett headquarters
complex is important for the
physical evidence of ranch activities
preserved in the buildings, their relationships,
and the material culture, all
information recoverable through archaeology.
Of equal importance is the oral
history, the remembrances of people who
were born and lived to adulthood on the
ranch. Their recollections of tales told by
Keyes Fawcett are also relevant to our
understanding of the prehistoric people
who lived along the Devils River, occupying
an environment different from that
of today. The young herders who drifted
their sheep west to the Devils Country
described dragging a log to flatten the grass
which grew so high the sheep refused to
move through it. Dolan Creek, now a wide
expanse of whitened, scoured gravel, was
then an intermittent stream coursing
through green banks. Snake Springs, once
a creek so clear and clean it was stocked
with Rocky Mountain trout, now runs a
few feet and dives below the gravel beds
above Dolan Springs. The first flood to
imperil the headquarters site came in
1932, followed by a worse one in 1948 and
subsequently at increasingly shorter
intervals. The main Dolan Creek Road has
been moved three times in the past sixty
years due to the wild meandering of the
Dolan Creek flood plain. These environmental
changes, brought about by man's
intervention with nature, took place in less
than a century, a mere fraction of the ten
millennia of human life along the Devils
Archaeology is the study of human culture
and is based primarily on the analysis
of material remains. In that regard, structures
and ruins are artifacts just as arrow
points and bisen bones. Historic archaeology
is not limited to below-ground excavation
but encompasses all available resources,
documents, architecture, and oral
Solveig Turpin is associate director of the Texas
Archeological Research Laboratory at the University
of Texas at Austin.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 8, Number 2, Spring 1990, periodical, Spring 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45428/m1/18/: accessed January 19, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.