Post oak with many physical characteristics that are typical of old-growth oaks found in the Western Cross Timbers
© Jesse R. Edmondson
The term Cross Timbers is used to describe a fairly narrow strip of land in the United States that runs from southeastern Kansas across Central Oklahoma to Central Texas. Made up of a mix of prairie, savanna, and woodland, it forms part of the boundary between the more heavily forested eastern part of the country and the almost treeless Great Plains, and also marks the western habitat limit of many mammals and insects.

No major metropolitan areas lie wholly within the Cross Timbers, although roughly the western half of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex does, including the cities of Fort Worth, Denton, Arlington, and Weatherford. The western suburbs of the Tulsa metropolitan area and the northeastern suburbs of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area also lie within this area. The main highways that cross the region are I-35 and I-35W going north to south (although they tend toAcorn Image skirt the Cross Timbers' eastern fringe south of Fort Worth) and I-40 going east to west. Numerous U.S. Highways also cross the area.


What is the Western Cross Timbers?

Post Oak leaf with acorns
© Richard V. Francaviglia

The Western Cross Timbers extend from far southern Oklahoma, including parts of Love and Carter counties, into central Texas, where it covers large parts of Montague, Young, Jack, Wise, Stephens, Palo Pinto, Parker, Eastland, Erath, Brown, San Saba, and Mills counties, as well as smaller parts of Clay, Cooke, Callahan, Hood, Coleman, and McCulloch counties. In Texas, this area includes the towns of Weatherford and Mineral Wells; Stephenville lies on the eastern fringe, while Brownwood is on the western edge.

The part of this region north of I-20 is sometimes colloquially referred to as the Palo Pinto Mountains; the hills are isolated, rugged, and scenic, with spectacular bluffs along the Brazos River as it flows through the region.

Coal mining has historically been an important activity, as bituminous coal deposits are found throughout the region; indeed, the town of Newcastle in Young County was named after the English city of the same name due to the coal connection.

Historically speaking, in the mid-to-late 19th century, Comanche Indians occupied this area, and it became a flash point for conflict between various groups of white settlers, the Comanche, and the U.S. Cavalry; Forts Belknap and Richardson were built in the area to protect this part of the frontier.

Numerous roads cross this region, including US 70 in Oklahoma and I-20, I-30, US 67, US 81, US 82, US 180, US 183, US 281, US 287, and US 380 in Texas.