Beach Evening

Pelicans on McFaddin Beach
June 2011
Pleistocene Horse Jawbone
from McFaddin Beach
May 18, 2000

McFaddin Beach is the area roughly from High Island to Sabine Pass. From IH 10 you turn South at Winnie, Texas onto State Highway 124. You follow it to the old U.S. Hwy 87 which once ran from Bolivar Point in Galveston County, Texas on the West, to Sabine Pass, Jefferson County, Texas on the East.

U.S. Highway 87 used to run from Galveston (crossing on the Ferry) to Bolivar Point and then East to Louisiana. However, years of Hurricanes, subsidence, surf and erosion have reduced this U.S. Highway to little but blacktop and rubble as seen in the photo above. It is advisable to have a four wheel drive vehicle to traverse McFaddin Beach.

McFaddin Beach is usually not a place for a picnic, as it is littered with years of ships dumping debris in the Gulf of Mexico, some medical refuse, tar and often very muddy looking water. Not only that, but to get to the GOOD places described below, you have to run the gamut of so-called "Nude Beach". While nude beaches in some areas may be a place for guys to go to look for good-looking girls with their tops off, McFaddin Beach's "Nude Beach" is not something to write home about. Often there is no one there, but on occasions, especially holidays, the usual fare are older unattractive males letting it all hang out. They don't bother anyone, but before you make the drive to hunt for fossils and shells, be aware that you may find this portion less than desirable scenery. Fortunately this section only runs for a mile or so.

O.K. Enough for the bad publicity for some aspects of McFaddin Beach. Now for the good stuff.

According to the July, 1996 issue of Texas Highways Magazine, in a article called "Museum Of The Gulf Coast", there has been more "CLOVIS POINTS" found on McFaddin Beach, than anywhere else in the North American continent. Clovis Points, if you are not familiar with them, are named for the location where they were first found, which is Clovis, New Mexico. These are believed to be the most ancient or one of the most ancient Native American artifacts found in the New World (see additional information below).

A friend of ours, who is a member of the Houston Gem & Mineral Society, has found two Clovis Points on McFaddin Beach. Clovis Points in good shape have purportedly been valued by some collectors at between $750.00 to $1,500.00 or more. Few folks who are lucky enough to find one (which is rare) would want to sell their find, but prefer to display it to the public in a museum or annual Gem, Mineral and Fossil Society Show. Even with the number of Clovis Points found over the years on McFaddin Beach, you should know that your chances of finding a Clovis Point is extremely unlikely. There are rare finds of Clovis Points in a number of places on the North American continent, but McFaddin Beach has the claim to the most found in one location.

Because of the importance in the study of the spread of humans in the New World, anyone finding a Clovis Point should report such find to a natural history museum and/or to groups studying such points for archaeological and anthropological importance. You may be asked to allow your point to be put on display in a museum. You should be credited for your find and you should not have to turn it over to such institution. However, it important to provide information to go into the collective knowledge of where such artifact was found. This benefits everyone by expanding the knowledge about the earliest Americans.

What is a Clovis Point, you may ask? These are the spear points used some of the most ancient Americans. They were first found near Clovis, New Mexico, hence the name "Clovis Points". These are not fluted points as you may have seen most arrow heads of more modern Indians use. Clovis points are usually concave along the back half or so of the point, so that the "Clovis Point" could be placed between the two sides of a split wooden shaft, then some sinew wrapped around to hold the point fastened between the two sides of the wooden shaft, to make a spear.

In addition to Clovis Points, there is a lot of mostly Pleistocene fossil material found on McFaddin Beach. This includes, but is not limited to bison, horse, mammoth, camel or llama, sloth and other Ice Age animal fossils which have been found, along with human archaeological artifacts.

Above you can see a part of a Pleistocene horse (equus sp.) jaw bone with four teeth. I found this in May, 2000. The PMNS and the HGMS-Paleo Section have made a number of field trips to McFaddin Beach over the years. You never know what you will find on McFaddin Beach.

During some seasons, there is so much seaweed on the Beach you can hardly see anything. During some times of the year, various sea shells are abundant and at other times, there are virtually none of that same species of shell to be found. Sometimes you will never find a sign of a fossil and at other times, I have found several Pleistocene bison teeth and/or bones, on the same trip. I have also found the tips of bison horns. Some members of the PMNS and the HGMS-Paleo Section have found many more things than I have there.

On McFaddin Beach you will also find on occasions corals, sponges, dead fish and other marine life, dead sea birds, dead dolphin, and many other things washed up, along with human type of debris (dumped over from ships and things left on the beach by litterbugs). There are a number of smooth, sometimes straight and sometimes crooked iron looking things any where from a couple of inches to as much as six inches or so, which appear to be rusted iron. These are actually fossilized burrows of worms, crawfish and other ancient marine life. The burrowers holes fill with material different than the matrix around them, which then hardened into this pieces, and the matrix eroded away, leaving the casts of the inside of the burrows.

Here are some shots of a Cownose Ray (Rhinoptera bonasus) which I found on one trip to McFaddin Beach on July 20, 2003. It is an interesting looking marine creature. Purportedly it has a venomous tail barb, but I could not find a barb on the tail of this specimen, which I found dead on the beach.

Tail view from above Side view from above Head view from above

The Cownose Ray grows up to 3' wide. The disc of this ray is about 1.7 time wider than the length, exclusive of the tail. The front edge of the snout is nearly straight. The Posterior edges of the disc are concave and the outer corners falcate.
The Cownose Ray is a dark brownish color from the top side and is a whitish or whitish-yellowish on the under side. The front of the head is depressed, i.e. concave. The subrostral lobes and head form a shape which looks somewhat like a cow's nose, hence the common name. The literature says that there is usually a 7 series of teeth in each jaw. The skin is very smooth like patent leather and there is reportedly a tail spine immediately behind the dorsal fin. I didn't find such tail spine in this specimen. This specimen was small being about 14" to 16" from wing tip to wing tip and slightly longer from nose to the end of the tail.

McFaddin Beach TRIP of April 3, 2004

The first field trip of 2004 was held on April 3, 2004. Several members who planned to attend were unable to do so because of work schedules. However the eight people who made the trip were: (in alphabetical order) Beverlie Anne Millen, Maureen Millen, Delilah A. Proctor, Terry Proctor, Anna Stanley, Jay Vinluan, Joel Vinluan and Julien Vinluan. Click here for the link to that trip.

This was a very successful hunt. The fossils are Pleistocene: Maureen Millen was the first to find a fossil. She found a horse (equus sp.) jaw tooth. Terry Proctor found a large bison (bison sp) jaw tooth and a tibia from a horse (equus sp) [which had the distal end broken off]. Jay Vinluan found 3 bison tibia. One appears to be a metacarpal {cannon bone} from a camel (Hemiauchenia macrocephala sp.). A number of other interesting things were found on this trip. Terry found a live duck (species unknown) which appeared ill, as it let Terry catch it with little trouble. After a few pictures with the duck, by various members of the group (and suggestions that it would make a good supper), Terry put the duck back in the surf where it promptly swam out into the gulf and at last sight, was hundreds of feet out in the Gulf appearing to do well (apparently it was not ill at all, maybe just friendly).

Also found (first by Anna Stanley) was a fairly small sea turtle--perhaps 18" from snout to tip of tail, which was dead of unknown cause. It was photographed. A large dead Red fish was also found, which would have made excellent eating, had it been caught live. A large dead water bird (unknown sp.) was also photographed.

It was a great day at McFaddin Beach. Often the beach is covered with sea weed, but on this trip there wasn't any sea weed to be seen. It was cloudy but not raining, the temperature was in the upper 70s or low 80s--in short it was great weather and a great trip.

On this date, we looked for fossils in the Beaumont Clay (fossils are found in this Pleistocene layer, which is known as the Beaumont Clay and sometimes called the Beaumont Mud, as it is very sticky), where this layer is eroding away. The Beaumont Clay layer can be found at various locations along McFaddin Beach. However, we were 6.5 miles East of where State Hwy 124 hits the beach, just South of the town of High Island. We had stopped earlier, closer to the starting point on the beach when Maureen Millen found her horse's tooth. Ms. Millen's car could not navigate the deep sand so after a couple of miles she and her daughter had to stop. Maureen and Beverlie had Maureen's three dogs with them also (one is old and blind--we are talking about the dogs) so they decided to do a little more hunting and return home. Anna took her pickup truck on East and found the dead sea turtle (see above), before she also left the trip.

Everyone had a good time and the finds were good for the day--2 teeth, 4 leg bones, numerous really nice shells, a live duck (for photo-op only), a dead sea turtle and a dead bird to photograph, lots of exercising (including finding we had muscles we didn't remember having a day or so later with the bending and stretching to pick things up from the beach). Julien Vinluan, Joel's six year old had a great time running into the surf then hollering like it was going to get him and running back out.

On the way out, Terry photographed a Beach Evening Primrose (Oenothera drummondii sp.) and a Nodding Thistle (Carduus nutans sp.) both of which are pictured below, along with the teeth (including three from prior trips) and an equus horse tibia which Terry found. Maureen Millen's tooth and Jay Vinluan's three leg bones are being processed for display here a little later.

Horse tibia
(equus sp.)
Beach Evening Primrose
(Oenothera drummondii)
bison jaw teeth
(Bison bison sp.)
bison jaw tooth
(Bison bison sp..)
Beach Evening Primrose
(Oenothera drummondii)
bison jaw tooth
(Bison bison sp.)
bison jaw tooth
(Bison bison sp.
Nodding Thistle
(Carduus nutans)
bison jaw tooth
(Bison bison sp.)
McFaddin Beach near
High Island, Texas
Beach Road near
High Islands, Texas
Pelicans In Surf on
McFaddin Beach, Texas
Lucky Find of three Bison Fossils on McFaddin
Beach, right where
Yukon had stopped
Nodding Thistle
(Carduus nutans)
Beaumont Clay of McFaddin Beach
28 to 135,000 YBP
Bison Bison
leg bone-front
Horse tibia Bison bison
leg bone-front
Bison bison
leg bone-back
Two formations of Brown Pelicans--1 East and 1 West Bison bison
leg bone-back