20 Chapters
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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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Chapter 4 Man in the Big Thicket

Geraldine Ellis Watson University of North Texas Press PDF




Evidence shows that humans have been in this area for at least ten thousand years, possibly much longer. The aborigines were hunters and gatherers and practiced agriculture. Many habitation sites can be found above flood levels and near good water. These sites were connected by a system of trails, which were first followed by the early explorers, later by the traders, and lastly by the settlers, widening them as foot traffic progressed to horse-drawn vehicles to automobiles. Many of the present roads in Southeast Texas follow these routes.

Game was plentiful and there was an abundance of native fruits, nuts, greens, and roots. Corn, beans, and squash were grown and the fields were fired each winter to clear weeds and brush and provide ashes for fertilizer. Fire was also used to drive game. Otherwise, the Indians made little impact on the land.


Anglo-Americans and Mexicans began to enter East Texas in the

1600s and practiced subsistence farming and ran cattle and hogs in the free-range land. In the 1800s with the advent of steamboats on

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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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Part Two Day 5

Geraldine Ellis Watson University of North Texas Press PDF

Reflections on the Neches

Part Two

Day 5


River Mile 61

9:48 A.M.

Just above Pearl River Bend was Gore Landing. I got out of the boat here and looked around, but found no evidence that it had once been an active and busy place. It was probably a summer port as the access road is across the multiple drainage pattern from Deserters Baygall and must have been a booger to traverse during wet weather.

Gore Landing Road follows hummocks through the bottom and joins the

Old Maids Road near Gore Cemetery at the edge of the terrace. It then proceeds west along the ridge dividing Deserters Baygall from Round Pond Baygall to the Gore house on the Old Wagon Road where the terrace rises to the upland. The Old Maids Road was named for two sisters, Tina and Lisha Gore.

Never having married, they lived in the family home after their parents died.

I used to stop by and visit them—oh, it must have been in the late 1960s. They lived exactly as their forebears did and in the same house.

The Gore house was set back behind two big live oak trees and a handsplit rail fence, and several big mulberry trees grew along the fence row.

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Part Three Day 1

Geraldine Ellis Watson University of North Texas Press PDF

Part Three, Day 1

Part Three

Day 1


Part Three, Day l 9:00


After a night of rest and revictualing, I took to the river again. The TV weatherman had warned about rain and thunderstorms, but I dismissed the possibility with the confidence born of the experience of seeing many a TV weather prediction come to naught. Regina drove my pickup home. We did not leave a vehicle at the landing site as I had the Park Service radio to notify her of my arrival at my destination. There was a good current, the sky was sunny, and my heart was light.

Shortly after leaving the Highway 96 bridge, I came to the site of the old highway. Its span over the stream has been removed, but the railroad bridge, picturesque with its framework of iron girders, is still in use. I remember when the old highway bridge was built around 1931! It was the first bridge to span the Neches River and its presence was the finish to the steamboat era.

On the bluff, where the riverboats discharged and took on cargo, there were docks built of great pilings and large planks of virgin longleaf pine. One of my earliest recollections was going down to the wharves to see the steamboats.

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