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1/16/2016 10:45 AM

Texas Hill Country – Interesting Structures

Texas Hill Country provides a wide variety of vista views of Texas wildflowers often with some interesting natural or manmade feature. The many hills of varying size and shapes along with the valleys crisscrossed with winding roads and waterways create abundant opportunities for the landscape photographer. During the spring and early summer months, the addition of wildflowers adds that splash of color to brighten up those landscape views. Set the stage with the light from a sunrise or sunset then fill the sky with clouds or cover the ground with a wisp of fog or morning dew and that landscape transforms in a magical mystical view. The camera can only capture a fraction of what the photographer with experience.
Here are some of the views with interesting features that I have been able to find since my first photographic encounter with the Texas Hill Country in 2001.
Old Farm House on US 281 – Located just north of Marble Falls is an old stone farm house that usually has a field of bluebonnets for its yard.  
Pontotoc Ruins – Over the years the ruins in the small community of Pontotoc, Texas have provided backdrops for a variety of wildflowers. Pontotoc is located 23 miles northwest of Llano, Texas along Texas 71. This route along Texas 71 from Llano through Pontotoc to Fredonia, Texas is a favorite of wildflower photographers. The many side roads off Texas 71 can provided some very exciting and awesome views. Two cautions should be noted; Texas 71 is a very busy highway and often with narrow shoulders along that stretch and the side roads are usually unpaved dirt and gravel roads not suited for low clearance vehicles. 
Kingsland RR – About 1.7 miles south of Texas 29 and FM-1431, CR-321 crosses the old Kingsland RR with a view towards the old railroad bridge. The tracks are often covered with bluebonnets during the peak of the season. Caution: The property down the tracks is privately own, so stay on the county road access to set up any photo shoots. One year the people who own the property along the tracks were selling tickets that granted day access to their campgrounds and the property along the tracks. I am not sure this is still the case but you can contact them at: Long's Fish & Dig, 822 C R 321, Kingsland, TX 78639.
Windmills – The Texas windmill is probably ranked right behind the iconic Texas longhorn as a popular symbol of Texas life. It kind of amazes me that we coming full circle back to that windmill to provide some of our water and energy resources today. Most the old original wooden windmills have been replaced with the metal ones, but even the metal ones can add a bit of “Texas” bling to your photos. Here are just two that I have found in my travels.
Farm/Ranch equipment – In the Ennis area some of the local folks who participate in their annual bluebonnet festival will actually add farm/ranch equipment to their fields/yards just for the visiting wildflower photographers. In the Texas Hill Country wildflower fields, you can find that practice along with actual farm/ranch equipment in use.
Winding roads – The very nature of the Texas Hill Country ranchland dictates the use of long winding ranch/county roads that travel mostly around the borders of the larger ranches. Many of these winding ranch and county roads provide breathtaking views across hills and valleys. Some of these roads are rough gravel/dirt covered and cross creeks and streams with a low water crossing at best. Because these roads travel through ranch pastures they might not have any fencing. The lack of a fence or sign does not grant you permission to enter the property. Please be respectful of the property owners and do not enter their fields without permission. Also, travel slowly along these routes and be mindful of not only the free roaming cattle, but the deer that seem to delight in running right in front of your car. And finally, although I have yet had an encounter with one, several poisonous snakes of varying types and sizes consider those open roads their daily sunbathing spots. Disturbing them can result in a very nasty and potentially life threatening experience. If I approach a road shoulder right of way with tall grass, I enter with caution and carry a long hiking stick out front of me as I slowly walk.
Fences – I have over the years found a wide variety of fencing along the routes I have taken. The typical fencing throughout the Texas Hill Country is the standard barbed-wire fence with cedar posts. Wooden fencing can be found along some of the higher-end/glamour ranches and weekend ranchettes. Along the smaller pastures and farms the farmers/ranchers just gathered up the rocks and stones to make stone fences. 
Prairie Mountain Schoolhouse – Historic one room schoolhouse located along RR-2323 southwest of Llano, Texas. In past years the swing set in front of the schoolhouse has been covered with bluebonnets, but as the popularity of this spot grew the bluebonnet became more and more trampled. Still might be a good spot to check and the entire length of RR-2323 from Texas 16 to Prairie Mountain Schoolhouse can produce some awesome roadside and field views of bluebonnets.
Union Band Cemetery – Located along Texas 71 between Fredonia and Pontotoc, Union Band Cemetery is not only a very unique spot for bluebonnets, but also a very interesting historical location.
Rocks – Bluebonnets have this ability to bring along some of their own food source via nitrogen fixing rhizobium bacteria, so they will pop up even along and in the rocks.
Creeks, rivers and ponds
Buildings – Buildings of different sizes, types and ages dot the Hill Country and given the right conditions can provide a great backdrop to wildflowers.

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