Can you see an old road in this picture? It’s there, though with each passing year, the trace grows less defined, and probably less remembered by anyone who happened to have traveled it.
This road runs north/south along the western border of our woods. This view is looking south, so Roundrock is on the left and my neighbor’s land is on the right. The road itself is within the surveyed boundary of Roundrock. On a plat map the real estate agent gave me, this road is shown, but not in any realistic way. The road mostly disappears south of our woods, though on the map, this is where the road is shown most clearly. And the map doesn’t show the old road along the northern half of our property and beyond, but this is where the way is still most clearly defined.
When L and I first started coming to Roundrock, our thought was to walk this old road with a couple of saws and clear away the branches and stray baby trees to open the road and use it for getting the truck another quarter of a mile farther from where we usually parked. #1 Son and I gave that a try once, but the old road is much more overgrown than it seems from this photo.
When we finally hired a dozer man to build us a dam, and realized he would have to build a road to get to the dam site, I lead him along part of this road as the future path. He, of course, made short work of clearing the way, and he made the road much wider than what is shown here as well as gave it proper camber to shed water. The old road in the photo above would be a mud puddle in the wet weather. It never really would have worked for us.
Still, I’m glad I kept some of the old road untouched. I see it on each visit, and it causes me to reflect on who must have laid it out originally and for what purpose. Why was it cut through the trees rather than just to the west on what is now my neighbor’s land but which is open and grassy? Where does it lead? Where did it come from? Was this an old wagon trail or did it appear in the age of automobiles and trucks? Did the ranchers lead cattle along this road? Or was this the way to go to avoid the cattle? You can’t see it in this photo, but the remains of a barbed wire fence run along the road on the right side. That might have kept the cattle in the meadow to the west. Yet I’ve found two cattle skeletons among the trees at Roundrock — on the wrong side of this fence — so what do I make of that? Were they strays that wandered beyond the limits of the ranch and were forgotten?
There are small piles of large rocks at several points along this old road. They certainly appear not to be natural collections. Were these pulled from the roadway when it was being built? If so, why were they collected in common piles instead of just cast aside from where they were found? Were they collected in order to be built with? (We did use some of them for one of our fire rings, and they don’t seem especially suited for building.)
So many mysteries. It’s why I love Roundrock so much. Every time I see this road I get wistful. I think I’ll carry a saw with me next time I’m nearby and do a little work to keep the old road open.