20 Chapters
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Part One Day 1

Geraldine Ellis Watson University of North Texas Press PDF

Reflections on the Neches

Part One

Day 1

LAUNCH OFF

River Mile 108 12:00 Noon

It was a glorious autumn day, the river was just right, my boat was packed with simple necessities, I was ready. My 15-year-old blind samoyed dog, Ulysses,

Jr., was also ready, and David, my son, was ready to launch us off. We were putting in at Town Bluff and I had left my VW van at Sheffield’s Ferry (Highway

1013), the takeout point. Junior and I climbed aboard my 14-foot flat-bottom riverboat, and David pushed us off into the current to begin our odyssey. Ulysses,

Jr., posed proudly like a figurehead in the prow, his ears erect to catch the sounds of all the things his poor blind eyes were missing. How joyously he had leaped into the boat when I said, “Yes, Darling, you can go!”

At this point, I should have sailed grandly and majestically off onto the river and into my great adventure, but, alas, the Corps of Engineers, who regulate the release of water at Dam B, just a few hundred yards upstream, had decided to hold the water for awhile, so there was no current. A strong wind came up and pushed my light craft backward, so there I sat, paddling furiously and going nowhere. David stayed long enough to have a good laugh and left me to the mercy of the wind and river. Finally, the wind slacked, and I made enough headway to get downstream into some current. I continued to wield the paddle with vigor, however, in order to get away from the developed areas below the dam before night fell. My heart was set on camping the first night on the big sandbar at Cowart’s Bend. Another

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Area Map of Neches River

Geraldine Ellis Watson University of North Texas Press PDF
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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

GORE LANDING

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 Two Day 1

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Part Two, Day 1

Part Two

Day 1

SCOTT’S LANDING

River Mile 94 3:30 P.M.

A year passed before I continued my journey. It was autumn again. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect: cobalt blue skies, brilliant, sunshiny days and cool, crisp nights. And I had just been given my annual no-pay furlough from the Park Service, so it seemed a most auspicious time to begin the second part of my Neches River voyage. I had just finished building my little backwater boat and tried it out on Massey Lake near my home and it didn’t sink, so I packed the bare necessities for survival, and my daughter, Regina, drove me to Sheffield’s Ferry (Highway 1013 crossing) to launch me off.

I hadn’t intended to build a boat for this trip. I had thought for years that I would return to Deweyville where the old boat maker lived from whom Daddy had bought his backwater boat many years ago and try to find him, but kept putting it off. I didn’t even know his name. Then one night I had a dream.

Daddy came to me and said, “Sister, if you want a backwater boat, go to that

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GEOMORPHOLOGY

Geraldine Ellis Watson University of North Texas Press PDF

Introduction

know: I’m not going to live a life of fear and deprivation of joy and adventure because of some bad thing that might happen.

I chose the time of year for my trip for a purpose, also. Mosquitoes are less active in late autumn, and the river is low and clear. The gorgeous weather of Indian summer is more pleasant and less likely to produce violent storms.

My dog and I are in the autumn of our lives. Springtime on the river, with its burgeoning buds, leaves and flowers, the fast-rising, full-flowing water, and quickening life is for the young. I am old. What more defiant gesture to the approaching decrepitude of old age than to embark on an adventure that most young people would not dare, and to do it in the autumn. I, my dog, the trees, the river, the animals—we know that winter is coming; but we’re going to go out in a blaze of glory.

GEOMORPHOLOGY

I seem to have been born with a sense of “why,” for I always felt a need to know the reasons for everything I see in this natural world. Around 40 years of age, when I began to wonder why the river changed its course, why the vegetation changed on different parts of the floodplain, why there were high, rocky banks and boulders in parts of the river and not in others, I suspected it all had something to do with geology. I sought out the answers in university classrooms and in any published literature I could get my hands on, as well as talking with any and everybody who thought they had answers.

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