The prominent granite dome is visible for many miles in the surrounding basin of the Llano Uplift. The weathered dome is a monadnock. The rock is actually part of a segmented ridge, the surface expression of a large igneous batholith of middle Precambrian () material that intruded into earlier metamorphic schists and gneiss. The intrusive granite of the pluton was exposed by extensive erosion of the surrounding sedimentary rock (which is primarily limestone).
HistoryTimeline of Enchanted Rock History according to the Handbook of Texas and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
|March 16, 1838||Anavato and Maria Martinez issued headright grant ownership|
|1841||James Robinson, Texas politician, acquires property|
|1844||Robinson sells to Samuel Maverick, lawyer, politician and a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Maverick has the land surveyed for minerals.|
|1880–1881||Maverick's widow sells to N. P. P. Browne|
|1886||Browne sells to John R. Moss|
|1886||John R. Moss sells to J. D. Slator|
|1895||Slator sells to two ranching brothers C. T. and A. F. Moss|
|1927||C.T. Moss's son Tate Moss inherits and opens to tourism|
|1946||Moss sells to Albert Faltin, who later sells a half interest to Llano rancher Charles H. Moss, C. T.'s grandson|
|1970||Declared a National Natural Landmark .|
|1978||Charles and his wife Ruth, by then having full rights, decide to sell the rock. First offer goes to the Texas Parks and Wildlife who are unable to afford the asking price.|
|March 1, 1978||The Nature Conservancy, a private concern based in Arlington, Virginia, at the behest of Lady Bird Johnson, acquires the property for $1.3 million, and agrees to act as interim owner until State of Texas can take over, thus guaranteeing that the area will not be open to private development.|
|March 7, 1978||The Nature Conservancy, deeds the land to the State of Texas with the agreement that Moss will continue to operate it until June 1 of that year. United States Secretary of the Interior Cecil D. Andrus tells Governor Dolph Briscoe that a Federal land and water conservation grant will be made available for purchase of the area when matched by state funds.|
|1984||The State of Texas opens it as Enchanted Rock State Natural Area after adding facilities. That same year it is also added to the National Register of Historic Places|
Archaeological evidence indicates human visitation at the rock going back at least 11,000 years.
According to the book The Enchanted Rock published in 1999 by Ira Kennedy
These hunter-gatherers had flint-tipped spears, fire, and stories. With these resources, some twelve thousand years ago, the first Texans became the wellspring of Plains Indian culture.On the basis of archaeological evicence human habitation at Enchanted Rock can be traced back at least 10,000 years. Paleo-Indian projectile points, or arrowheads, 11-12,000 years old have been found in the area upstream and downstream from The Rock. The oldest authenticated projectile point found within the present day park is a Plainview type, dating back 10,000 years.
The rock has been the subject of numerous geological surveys and paintings.
Legends and Mysticism
Folklore of local Tonkawa, Apache and Comanche tribes ascribes magical and spiritual powers to the rock (hence the name 'Enchanted Rock'). While attempting to hide from Anglo settlers in the area, the Natives would hide on the top two tiers of the rock and, since they were unable to be seen from the ground below. The first European to visit the area was probably Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1536. The Tonkawa, who inhabited the area in the 16th century, believed that ghost fires flickered at the top of the dome. In particular they heard unexplained creaking and groaning, which geologists attribute to the rock's night-time contraction after being heated by the sun during the day. The name "Enchanted Rock" derives from Spanish and Anglo-Texan interpretations of such legends and related folklore; the name "Crying Rock" has also been given to the formation.
The following is on a plaque on Enchanted Rock
From its summit in 1841, Captain John C. Hays, while surrounded by Comanche Indians who cut him off from his ranging company repulsed the whole band and inflicted upon them such heavy losses that they fled.
Marked by the State of Texas 1936
Other legends associated with Enchanted Rock are
- Named “Spirit Song Rock” for native legends
- Revered by native tribes as a holy portal to other worlds
- Anyone spending the night on the rock becomes invisible
- Spanish priest fled to the rock pursued by native tribes, disappeared, and returned to tell a mystic tale of falling into a cavern and being swallowed by the rock, encountering many spirits in the tunnels, eventually to be spit out two days later
- Haunted by spirits of warriors of a now-extinct native American tribe who were slaughtered at Enchanted Rock by a rival tribe
- Haunted by a native American princess who threw herself off the rock after witnessing the slaughter of her people
- Alleged sacrifices at the rock by both Comanche and Tonkawa tribes
- Believed to be a lost silver mine, or the lost El Dorado gold
- Bad fortune and death will befall anyone who climbs the rock with bad intent
- Footprint indentations on the rock of native American chief who sacrificed his daughter, condemned to walk Enchanted Rock forever
- Woman’s screams at night are of a white woman who took refuge on Enchanted Rock after escaping a kidnapping by native Americans
- Spanish soldier Don Jesús Navarro’s Enchanted Rock rescue of native maiden Rosa, daughter of Chief Tehuan, after her kidnap by Comanches intent on sacrificing her on the rock
Flora and Fauna
More than 500 species of plants. Four chief Plant Communities - Open Oak Woodland, Mesquite Grassland, Floodplain, and Granite Rock Community.
Vernal pools, ecologically threatened depressions of flora and fauna adapted to harsh environments, contain fragile invertebrate fairy shrimp.
Wildlife includes bats, ringtails, squirrels, and fox. A wide variety of lizards, including the Texas Horned Lizard can also be found.
Designated a key bird watching site , includes Wild Turkey, Greater Roadrunner, Golden-fronted Woodpecker, Western Scrub-Jay, Pyrrhuloxia, Canyon Towhee, Rufous-crowned Sparrow and Black-throated Sparrow, Lesser Goldfinch, Common Poorwill, Chuck-will’s-widow, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Vermilion Flycatcher, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Bell's Vireo and Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Orchard Oriole. Vesper Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, and Harris's Sparrow
Enchanted Rock State Natural Area and Conservation
Park activities include caving , hiking, primitive backpack camping, rock climbing and picnicking. The Summit Trail is the most popular hiking path.
Emphasis is placed on activity safety and ecological preservation. Visitors are asked to keep human incursion at a minimum, not disturbing plants, animals or artifacts.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department partners with Friends of Enchanted Rock , a volunteer-based nonprofit organization that works for the improvement and preservation of Enchanted Rock State Natural Area. Scheduled Summit Trail tours are the third Saturday of the month starting April, May, September, October, November, and December. Private tours are available for groups at other times.
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