Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988 Page: 7
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Erosion along Palo Duro Creek. Most of this downcutting has occurred
in the last 50 years, and is caused by depletion of the Ogallala Aquifer.
north into the North Canadian drainage in Oklahoma. It is
one of the few spots left in the region that may be suitable for
damming, and with the local water supply dependent on the
shrinking Ogallala Aquifer, folks are concerned about their
future water needs. So the Palo Duro River Authority was
formed a few years ago, and the authority is now pursuing the
thorny path of bureaucratic requirements.
Archaeologists walked over every one of its 6,734 acres,
and stuck shovels in the ground in a few places to see what was
under the surface. That wasn't always necessary, though,
because Palo Duro Creek has cut a deep path through its
prehistoric terraces since the water table started dropping in
the early 1950s. The steep cutbanks made for quick stratigraphic
studies of the natural and cultural deposits that have
formed along the shifting banks of the creek for the past
10,000 years. Four major prehistoric occupations were discovered:
Paleoindian spear points made from the beautiful Alibates
flint were found along with the skull of an extinct bison;
campsites of Archaic bison hunters provided mute evidence
of their nomadic lives; woodland hearths and arrowpoints,
along with corn pollen in the buried alluvial soils from that
period suggest a farming and hunting lifestyle; and the distinctive
arrowpoints of the Plains Villagers who probably
witnessed Coronado's entrada in the 16th century were found
scattered on the surface and buried in the shallow, windblown
soils that have accumulated from the episodic droughts of the
The last was a surprise. The Plains Villager sites throughout
the Panhandle and the Southern Plains are noted for their
large houses with stone foundations. A fairly large community
has been uncovered along Wolf Creek 30 miles to the
east, where the Texas Archeological Society has been digging
for two years now as the site of its annual field school. Others
have been found and studied along the Canadian River to the
south and the North Canadian in Oklahoma. But the Plains
Villagers apparently didn't settle permanently along Palo
Duro Creek, unless their villages have been washed down the
creek or lie buried under the surface.
Palo Duro Creek has cut
a deep path through its
prehistoric terraces since
the water table started
dropping in the early 1950s.
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 6, Number 2, Summer 1988, periodical, Summer 1988; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45434/m1/7/: accessed March 30, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.