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History of Palo Duro Canyon. By Bernice Blasingame Palo Duro Canyon State Park Education Director/Park Interpreter. Geology of Palo Duro Canyon. Location Formation Layers. Location.

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history of palo duro canyon

History of Palo Duro Canyon

By Bernice Blasingame

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Education Director/Park Interpreter

geology of palo duro canyon
Geology of Palo Duro Canyon
  • Location
  • Formation
  • Layers
  • Palo Duro Canyon is located in Armstrong and Randall counties; 12 miles east of Canyon in the Texas Panhandle.
  • Formed by water and wind erosion
  • Prairie Dog Town Fork of Red River flows through the canyon
  • Floor of Palo Duro Canyon same age as rim of the Grand Canyon
  • 4 geologic layers
  • Quartermaster—oldest layer(250 million years) at bottom; red in color with bands of satin spar gypsum and claystone running through it
  • Tecovas— ”Spanish Skirts”, (200 million years) contains lavender and gold colors
  • Trujillo-contains massive sandstone and mudstone; “layered boulders” (181 million years)
  • Ogallala-top layer containing water table of high plains; contains caliche; (2-10 million years) 20-40 feet thick but can be as much as 700 feet thick in other places
history of man
History of Man
  • Native American Cultures
    • Paleoindian
    • Mesoindian
    • Neoindian
    • Historic
paleoindian stage
Paleoindian Stage
  • Included both Clovis and Folsom cultures
  • Clovis people hunted mammoths with large fluted points
  • Folsom hunted giant bison with small fluted points
  • Both groups thoroughly familiar with Palo Duro Canyon as evidenced by artifacts found
mesoindian stage
Mesoindian Stage
  • Used atlatl (spear thrower) for hunting
  • Moved in small groups of foragers and exploited seasonally-changing plant and animal resources
  • Rock art found in canyon suspected to be from this era
neoindian stage
Neoindian Stage
  • Hunters and gatherers who became increasingly dependent on gardening
  • Small temporary camps gradually replaced by large permanent villages
  • Tended to bury dead in crevices of canyon walls or rock shelters
historic stage
Historic Stage
  • Began with Coronado expedition in 1541; ended with MacKenzie campaign in 1874
  • Region dominated by Apache until about 1700 when replaced by the Comanche who forced Apache southward
  • Described as large bands of bison-hunting foot-nomads
  • Used large dogs to transport few possessions from camp to camp
  • Later became more warlike horse-nomads
historic stage continued
Historic Stage continued

Comanches entered panhandle and pushed Apaches out of plains and Palo Duro Canyon

Became superb horsemen; dominated region for more than 150 years

Culture based on hunting bison and raiding for horses and captives

battle of palo duro canyon
Battle of Palo Duro Canyon
  • Colonel Ranald MacKenzie
  • Kiowa Chief Lone Wolf (one of 5 chiefs at battle and last of Kiowas to turn himself and band in to Fort Sill in February 1875)
battle of palo duro canyon16
Battle of Palo Duro Canyon
  • With the help of Tonkawa scouts, Colonel MacKenzie and troops descended the canyon on foot leading their horses down a steep and narrow path. The Indians were totally surprised and fled leaving nearly everything behind. They put up a brave fight but could not overcome the odds. Their horse herd was captured and later destroyed. The soldiers also destroyed lodges and food supplies. This left Indians without shelter or food. They eventually had to return to the reservation or face starvation during the winter.
ranching era
Ranching Era
  • Charles Goodnight entered canyon to begin JA Ranch, 1874
  • Removed bison from canyon
  • Mary Ann Goodnight saved bison calves
civilian conservation corps
Civilian Conservation Corps
  • CCC began work on Palo Duro Canyon in 1930’s
  • Built road, cabins and trails
  • Made up of unemployed young men, many with no skills
  • Park opened July 4, 1934