National Geographic : 1961 Feb
ripens in the summer; the Lower Rio Grande Valley, with its astonishing citrus groves and vegetable gardens, once almost a desert (page 191); the industries, big and little, for making boots and concrete blocks and steel and newsprint and a hundred other things. I am a Texan. So were my parents and my grandparents. My pioneer ancestors called themselves "Texians"; they were frontier cowmen, sheepmen, peace officers, trail driv ers - and, in some cases, not much of any thing at all. I was born out in the hills, 14 miles from the nearest town, in the fall of 1898, so I am old enough to have sampled some of the flavor of these vanished times. State Divides Into Four Zones At one time or another I have visited al most all of the 254 counties that make up Texas, and when I look at a map like the one that accompanies this issue,* I tend to see the State as divided into four main sections. First there is the Gulf Coastal Plain-hot, low country, ranging from sea level to 1,000 feet. It begins at the Louisiana border and curves south to the Rio Grande Valley, where a good part of the Nation's winter vegetables grow, along with citrus and cotton. Farther inland a higher belt of land-the North Central Plains - stretches roughly southwest to northeast across the middle of the State. This is cattle, sheep, and goat coun try, 1,000 to 2,500 feet in altitude, and was once the southernmost range of the bison. The other two sections are the Panhandle part of the High Plains which run all the way into Canada-and the wild, rough country farthest west: Trans-Pecos Texas, where the Rocky Mountains drive their ramparts down from the north. In the very broadest of terms, this is how the land lies in Texas. It is, of course, an oversimplification, for within each of these four subdivisions there is a tremendous variety of landscape, climate, vegetation, and physical features. In any case, it is not so much the lay of the land that makes the State *See the Atlas Map, South Central United States, sent to Society members with this issue. Full moon in a fiery setting silhouettes a lone cowboy striking a light on the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle. Men such as this one preserve the legendary Amer ican West in the Lone Star State, a colos sus of skyscrapers, prairies, factories, and oil fields. HS EKTACHROMEWITH 600-MM. TELEPHOTOLENS BY NATIONAL 150 GEOGRAPHICPHOTOGRAPHERTHOMASNEBBIA© N.G.S .