we wanted were freshly made breakfast tacos followed up with some
sweet Mexican postres - but we ended up with a mystery along with
Northbound on Interstate 35 on our way home from a South
Texas dove hunt, we began to realize we needed some food on top
of all that coffee we'd been drinking. Stopping at one of the several
fast-food franchises we passed would have been easy enough, but I
had a taste for some madre-padre food.
"Let's check out Devine,"
I told my friend Roger
Moore. "I bet we can find a mom and pop place with some real food."
The memory of the time I had dared to suggest eating at a Thai food
place in Canyon
still fresh on his mind, my colleague-in-arms nevertheless hit his
turn signal. He pulled his pickup off the interstate for State Highway
132, which leads to Devine.
That's when we saw the green Texas Department of Transportation sign
that temporarily got our minds off our growling stomachs: Burnt Boot
Creek. Not a particularly appetizing name, but one that got our attention.
"Wonder how they came up with that name?" I asked. A West Texan who
wears his cowboy hat in the shower and boots for house shoes, Roger
had no answer for what has proven to be a tough-as-leather question.
has no shortage of Elm, Oak, Dry, or Brushy creeks, but Burnt Boot
The words "burnt" and "boot" aren't a particularly likely pair. I
could see Burnt Pear (as in Prickly Pear) Creek, Burnt Rock Creek,
even plain old Boot Creek, but why Burnt Boot?
I wrote the name down so I'd remember to check on it when I got back
to Austin. I had every confidence
the origin of the name could be found on line with no more difficulty
than typing the words "Burnt Boot Creek" into my favorite search engine.
Easy as pouring sand out of a boot, I figured. But the digital vastness
of the World Wide Web proved silent on how Burnt Boot Creek got its
name, noting only that it is a stream in Medina
County rising at Ghost Hill and flowing to Devine.
The creek begins at 29 degrees, 7 minutes north latitude, 98 degrees,
54 minutes, 28 seconds west longitude and ends at 29 degrees, 13 minutes
north latitude, 98 degrees, 54 minutes, 56 seconds west longitude.
In other words, it is not much of a stream length-wise.
The U.S. Department of the Interior's Geological Survey site offers
assorted maps showing the creek, but the federal cartographers apparently
think that merely pinpointing a geographical feature is good enough
for government work. They offer no explanation as to how Burnt Boot
Creek came by its name.
My search did indicate that there's only one Burnt Boot Creek in Texas
and apparently only one other similarly named stream in the nation,
that being in Washington State in the vicinity of Burnt Boot Mountain.
The Handbook of Texas, a treasure trove of information, has no mention
of Burnt Boot Creek. Neither does a history of Medina
So how did Burnt Book Creek get is evocative handle? Unless some old
timer has some insight, at this late date we may never know.
Obviously, the back story has something to do with a burnt boot. Someone
either found a burnt boot in the vicinity and thought that would make
a catchy name for a creek or sustained a burnt boot along its banks.
The later seems more plausible. Once, camping at historic Castle
Gap not far from the Pecos,
my friends and I sat around a campfire drinking coffee and telling
With cowboy-school teacher-turned talespinner Paul Patterson holding
court, it was easy to lose yourself, especially when he started telling
how he had once seen a cowboy boil a "pot" of coffee in a brown paper
bag. I didn't drift back into this century until I began noticing
that my feet seemed awfully hot.
On closer inspection, I discovered steam rising from my boots, the
rubber soles beginning to melt from being too close to the fire. I
still have my feet as well as those short-top hunting boots, but I
came very close to finding out first hand about burnt boots. Had Patterson's
story been just a bit more engrossing, "burnt boots" might not have
been the first two words out of my mouth, but in retrospect I can
understand how the term could have special meaning.
So until someone comes up with a better explanation, my broad theory
on Burnt Boot Creek's nomenclature will have to stand. One thing's
for sure: The breakfast tacos we enjoyed in Devine
smelled a lot better than burnt boots.
by Mike Cox - Order Here