The following message was authored by Henry Mayo, a surveyor and long-time resident of the Bryan-College Station area. As a surveyor and historian, Henry retrieves information from local, state and national resources to assemble history-themed messages for email subscribers in a series titled “This Week in Brazos County History.” To subscribe to Henry’s email series, click here.
PADDLE STRIKE AT AGGIELAND
(April 8, 1937)
I found the following news story (shown right) from the April 9, 1937 Mexia Weekly Herald. I do not know the rest of the story, but three years later in 1940, Frank G. Anderson became the second mayor of College Station.
TERRACING JUMPS INTO SPOTLIGHT
(April 9, 1942)
Also in the Mexia Weekly Herald on April 9, 1942 was an article on terracing. The top photo shown with the news clipping is a sign from Taylor, Texas.
First, I want to mention that AAA stands for the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, which was an organization set up to administer the Federal Agricultural Adjustment Acts. These New Deal programs included soil and water conservation programs which are still active state and federal efforts. The Dulie Bell Building at the corner of University Drive and Wellborn Road is still known by many as the AAA building. Built in 1942, it was the second AAA building on the A&M campus.
I am not a farmer, but have a little knowledge of the subject after reading this 1942 news article on terracing. My grandfather worked many years for the AAA in Navarro County, and my father grew up helping him survey terraces and ponds. The terraces, known as “check terraces,” were built along lines of equal elevation across farmland to catch and drastically slow down the speed of storm runoff. Fields without much slope did not need terraces very close together, and vice-versa. The terraces were rounded berms about five feet wide and only a foot or so high. They were constructed with various farm or road-building equipment. Due to demand, a special implement called a “Whirlwind Terracer,” sometimes called a Texas Terracer, was invented. It combined a rotating auger and moldboard plow to pick up soil and broadcast it to one side. It took a several passes down each side to build the terrace, but only took one man driving a tractor to do the work.
There are several good videos on YouTube of these machines in action:
Without maintenance, terraces flatten out some over time, but they are still prevalent in many of the pastures here in Brazos County. As a reminder that our towns have grown from farmland long ago, you can find terraces in Bryan and College Station fields. If you have ever mowed a field or baled hay, you will know if it is terraced. When I was growing up off of Rock Prairie Road, east of College Station, we had fun jumping our Honda 70 trail bike over terraces!
Above right is a Google Earth image along Rock Prairie Road East in College Station. It was taken at the height of the 2011 drought, so there was little vegetation in the fields to camouflage the terraces.
Have a great week,