04-Jul-2001 -- Confluence N31W98 lies in an area known as the Texas Hill Country on the Miller Creek Ranch. The nearest major city is Austin, the capitol of the state. To reach N31W98 take US183, a 4 lane highway, and about 55 miles from Austin, and 20 miles before reaching Lampassas, the next major town, follow Ranch Road 963 northeast. RR963 is marked as the Oakalla (locally pronounced "Okally") turn-off. About 2 miles from the US183/RR963 intersection, County Road 225 joins from the northwest. Follow CR225 to the Miller Creek Ranch gate. I visited the site on July 4, 2001. The 4th of July is the US national holiday of declaration of independence from England.
Confluence N31W98 lies is an area of eroded limestone hills on a transitional area between the coastal plain of Texas (bordering the NW corner of the Gulf of Mexico) and the southern edge of the High Plains, a savanna area extending from north central Texas into Canada. Roughly 200 miles from the Gulf, the Balcones Fault separates the flat coastal area from the higher plains. (Interstate Highway 35 follows the fault from Laredo on the Mexico border to the fault’s northern end just inside Oklahoma.) Immediately to the East of the fault elevations are around 400’ MSL, while just West of the fault elevations are 2500 feet. The limestone, as it weathers, turns into black clay which is deposited 500’ thick under the cotton and grain fields East of the fault. There is very shallow soil in the hill country and cattle, sheep ,and goat ranches predominate. A rainfall demarcation also follows the geologic fault. East of the fault on the plains rainfall is 33-45 inches per year; about 100 miles west of the line, rainfall drops to 10-15 inches per year, and eventually a desert extends southwestward into Mexico for 500 miles. Rainfall in central Texas is episodic with extended periods of no rain broken by severe storms. The summer of 2000 there was no rain for 100 days. But a storm in the Fall of 1999 saw 22" of rain in 6 hours. This Spring, a storm dropped 1.5" in 8 minutes. Summers are hot with 30-40 day stretches of temperature over 100F and nighttime never below 80F. Winter is mild with only 10-15 nights below freezing. It snows once or twice in 10 years.
The trees in the pictures are predominately Live Oak. They are "evergreen," dropping leaves in the Spring after new ones have sprouted. They produce abundant acorns that feed a sizeable Whitetail deer population. The trees are short due to the climate extremes discussed above, long drought kills tall trees. The roads were made by scraping the surface smooth and are representative of the color of the land. As you can see there is a very shallow soil layer under the grass.
Since making the attempted visit to N31W98 I have learned the names of the ranch owners. I will update the visit if I get permission to go to the exact confluence. The pictures are entirely representative of the area and will look little different on the exact confluence.