20 Chapters
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Part One Day 3

Geraldine Ellis Watson University of North Texas Press PDF

Part One, Day 2

Part One

Day 3


River Mile 97.8

Just after launching off on my third morning, I discovered that I had stopped too soon the previous evening, for just around the bend was a perfect camping site. There were two open-water lakes in a broad, short-grass pasture with a ridge between the lakes and the river. The ridge was populated with young pine trees which provided a cozy shelter. Apparently, grazing cattle kept the area as clean of weeds and brush as a mowed lawn. Several shore birds were wading the shallow edges of the lakes. They were common egrets, little green herons, and what appeared to be willets. I took my binoculars and walked over the berm, around the lakes and behind a grove of vegetation in the center of the large opening. Behind the vegetation was a beautiful oxbow lake, a remnant of what had once been a large bend in the river. Judging from the tracks, many animals come from out of the woods to graze on the grass, so it is a good site for animal watching as well as birdwatching.

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Geraldine Ellis Watson University of North Texas Press PDF
Medium 9781574411607

Part Two Day 2

Geraldine Ellis Watson University of North Texas Press PDF

Part Two, Day 1

Part Two

Day 2


River Mile 89.5

That second morning simply could not have been surpassed for beauty. Where everything turns a rich, rosy gold at evening, the mornings are silver and pearl. Mist covers the river and the sun, rising into an opalescent sky, strikes the dew drops that cover every leaf, twig, and branch, and turns them to flashing diamonds. It is interesting to know that dew neither “falls” nor “rises.”

During the day, the sun heats the earth. At night, the air cools and the earth radiates heat back into the atmosphere, condensing water in the air one molecule at a time on objects that have a lower temperature than the air. There is no dew underneath objects, as even a leaf can prevent the radiant heat from rising.

There were no fresh animal tracks on the sandbar that morning. After the crows advertised my presence the evening before, all the forest knew that

MAN was on the sandbar and avoided it. This is a good reason for barring camping on sandbars except in designated areas.

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Part Two Day 4

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Reflections on the Neches

shack was usually a tent on the last crib. When the raft hit land in the bend of the river, she saw that it was beginning to break apart and pile up, so she dived into the water and swam clear. That must have been an awesome sight: those great logs piling up like match sticks. She always told I. C. that if the river ever got low enough to expose the logs, he should pull them out, for they were virgin longleaf pine logs and would be as good as new due to submersion in the water. The year Saul Aronow, Ranger David McHugh, and

I canoed the upper Neches, it was lower than I had ever seen it and that was the year I. C. pulled out a good portion of the logs. The fence around his house on Highway 92 was made of hand-rived pales from these logs.

The river was the only way they could transport timber from the Neches watershed to the big lumber mills in Beaumont. Loggers would kill the trees by girdling them, wait a year for them to dry standing up, then cut them down with axes and two-man crosscut saws. Oxen and mules dragged the logs to the sloughs, then, when the winter floods came and water rose, the logs were floated. The main routes in the flooded bottomlands had the trees along them cut while the water was down, and they were called float roads. The logs were fastened with wooden pegs into cribs, or small rafts, and the cribs were connected by chains or ropes to make a long raft. The end of each log was struck with a sledge hammer that had a raised letter on it, thus branding the logs so the receiving mills would know to whom the logs should be credited. Perhaps the owner suspected some enterprising loggers might decide to sell a few logs on their own and pocket the proceeds.

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Chapter 3 The National Preserve

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The 3.5 million acres of Big Thicket country are laced with roads and dotted with cities, villages, and farms (see map 1). Much of it has been bulldozed to bare dirt and planted with pine farms or has been altered so radically that little is left that could qualify for preservation. Also, the economy of Southeast Texas is wholly dependent on forest products and taking a too-large portion of the land out of timber production would cause economic distress in an already economically depressed area.

Recommendations were made for the preservation of areas from

10,000 to 300,000 acres at different times. The history of efforts to secure a Big Thicket Preserve is not covered in this work for it is dealt with in other publications, such as James J. Cozine Jr.’s Saving the Big

Thicket (University of North Texas Press, 2004). Eventually, in 1974 all interested parties compromised and a bill was passed in Congress setting aside a National Preserve of 84,550 acres in nine widely separated units and three stream corridors (see map 7).

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