Rockwall considers excavating its historic namesake

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on March 23, 2012 at 11:20 PM

Updated Sunday, Mar 25 at 10:55 AM

ROCKWALL - Perhaps only the natives know, but Rockwall really is named after a rock wall.

A stone archway on private property a few block west of the town square is all that remains visible, and even that is overgrown by vines and brush.

"When I look at it, I think you're going to a secret garden," said Mark Russo, city councilman. "It's so tucked away. It's kind of neat. It transports you to a different time for a second. What's going on here? How did this get missed?"

Three men first found the rock wall while digging a well in 1852.

The stone wall dips more than seven stories into the earth, so the trio decided to name the town for it.

For years, the strange outcropping was something of a sideshow. The owners of the private property charged a quarter for admission to the natural wonder.

But in 1949, it got filled in with dirt and forgotten.

"As fast as development's going, it's likely it could be developed and a shopping center could be here," Russo said.

Voters will get the first say on what happens as they decide in May whether to spend $5 million to buy the land, excavate the wall and build a park to showcase it.

The issue is one of the bond issues on the ballot.

Sections of the rock wall are said to be scattered all over the county. But the piece the city wants to preserve is buried beneath the grass in an open field.

Perhaps the greatest debate about it all is whether prehistoric Indians built the rock wall or if it's a natural rock formation.

"It is the number one question we get at the historical foundation: 'Where can we go see the rock wall?'" said Sheri Fowler, Rockwall Historical Foundation. "The answer right now is, 'nowhere.'"

If voters approve the bond, it could take two-to-five years to build the park.

It's a six-acre project chronicling history and mystery, giving the city its first public place to view the rock wall for which it is named.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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