Long Dry Creek


The "University of Long Dry Creek" (ULDC) is no ordinary university. ULDC has no buildings other than a barn and a windmill, some fences to keep the cows in and the neighbor's cows out. But its classrooms are overflowing with information and knowledge if one listens, observes, and thinks about the natural world, the laboratory around him.

As our son John once suggested, and who suggested the name of the web site, the most important lessons his dad (James A. Glasscock) ever learned were when he attended the classes conducted at the University of Long Dry Creek.

Long Dry Creek itself begins as two small creeks. One is the North Fork of Long Dry Creek; the other is the South Fork of Long Dry Creek.

Both originate in Gray Country, Texas. The North Fork meanders into Wheeler County and passes to the south of Heald - now a name on some maps - and joins the South Fork of Long Dry Creek just west of Lela, a small community, a blink and a wink on Interstate Forty (40).

The South Fork of Long Dry Creek starts south and a little east of McLean, worth several blinks and a few winks on Interstate Forty (40). McLean is in Gray County and lies immediately west of Shamrock and Lela.

The South Fork of Long Dry Creek has more water in it during the rainy season. Two manmade lakes - Sandspur and Lake Loraine - impound sufficient water to create some fine fishing for member-owners and their guests.

Once the waters pass both lakes, the creek moves toward its rendezvous with the North Fork of Long Dry Creek, about 2.5 miles west of Lela and becomes Long Dry Creek.

From the point where both forks join together near Lela to become Long Dry Creek, the often-dry creek flows in wet seasons either gently or as a raging and destructive flood. The creek bed may be traced on the map as the waters flow southeast of the point of confluence.

The Glasscock farm, which has been in the family since 1907, is downstream from the point where the creeks meet and join. Frequently, and some seasons are worse than others, the floodwaters on Long Dry Creek turn into a raging, convulsing torrent that gets out of its banks and destroys fences and erodes the creek bed.

During these times, the creek's flow is rapid and swirling when at flood tide. Yet as the crest of flood passes the creeks gradually settles into a more placid stream and the waters become clear. The water changes from a muddy brown and becomes a mostly silt free stream of clear, rippling water.

In an unhurried moment, when one has time to wait patiently, one observes bull frogs, small mouth and large mouth bass, sunfish, perch, crappie, carp, water snakes of many kinds and catfish in the water. Several species thrive and compete for food in these quiet waters, and they give one much pleasure to watch and to catch them, at least, some of them. Water moccasins are fine as long as they stay in the water and, like the occasional rattlesnake in the area, do not bother me or I them.

The color picture of Long Dry Creek on the web page is beautiful and deceptive. In the wet season, typically in April, May and June, the water in Long Dry Creek can rise rapidly in this beautiful place and subside more slowly.

The photograph on the web page was taken in autumn of 2001 when the creek was dry. At one time, in the nineteenth century and perhaps long before that, a buffalo, or more correctly, bison wallow was located near the picture.

A bison or buffalo wallow was a place where the herds of bison gathered and rolled in the dusk or mud. It is not a wetland, as much of the year, there is no water in the creek. But when the bison roamed the region, there must have been a small depression that trapped the water in the wet season and had a lot of dust in the dry season.

I am sure the depression in the ground was the location of a bison or buffalo wallow. My reasoning is when I was a boy and wandering around, I found a lead bullet on the ground. Old and weathered bison bones protruded from the banks of an old dam my father had built and these relics were brittle and fragile to the touch.

Since Long Dry Creek must have had an earlier history than when the White Man came to the region, the waters must have flowed gently over the high grass - some cowboys said the range grass hit the belly of the horse to the withers of the horse. The withers are the highest part of the back of the horse at the base of the neck of a horse, cow, sheep or other animal. The term came into our English vocabulary between 1535-45, and its origin is unknown.

Once the creek leaves the 320-acre farm, it flows into Collingsworth County, where it joins Elm Creek and eventually flows into the North Fork of the Red River.


Dr. James Glasscock