Before we move on from Levelland we’ll take a closer look at the area we’re passing through, known as the Llano Estacado – the “Staked Plain” in Spanish.
The Llano Estacado lies to the south of the Canadian River and covers some 32,000 square miles in North-West Texas and East New Mexico, covering or partly covering 37 counties (33 in Texas).
The Llano Estacado is one of the flattest areas in the country and before the establishment of roads and settlements, was a treeless, almost featureless prairie landscape. It isn’t actually completely flat but slopes imperceptibly at about 10 feet per mile towards the south-east.
The origin of the name is unclear. It is possible that early Spanish explorers either marked their routes on the featureless landscape with stakes or tied their horses to stakes to prevent runaways. Another theory is that “estacado” refers to the stockade-like appearance of cliffs at the edge of the “llano”
The Llano Estacado sits above the Ogallala Aquifer, a huge underground water source which has enabled farming and cotton-growing to develop in the area.
Our first song today is another from West Texan Terry Allen.
“Cross the Llano Estacado
Baby’s till by my side
Ain’t no reason to stop
An there ain’t no place to hide
You want to Flatland Boogie
Better flat out come and ride”
Our second song is from the Texas Panhandle band Cooder Graw. I had assumed that Cooder Graw was the name of one of the band members but it turns out that it’s a “Texanisation” of the phrase “coup de grace”. You learn something everyday !
I was born on the Llano Estacado, yeah.
I was raised here in this land.
They tell me its a loud country, yeah.
And I’m gonna stay here, make it as loud as I can.