We are not leaving any Texas history spot off of our list of Think, Texas points of interest.
You might find this hard to believe, but wherever you live in our state, your Think, Texas columnist has been there already.
Or at least nearby.
And I plan to return to harvest more Texas history.
For 10 years, a college buddy of mine Joe Starr and I traced 50 Texas rivers from their sources to their mouths, or vice versa, by car, on foot and, at times, in the water.
This project was inspired by a road trip that we had made with other friends along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail going west and then the Oregon Trail returning east. We accomplished that riverine journey in 2003, just before the bicentennial celebration of the Lewis and Clark adventure of 1804-1806, so we encountered numerous new interpretive centers and updated historical markers along the way.
In Texas, we started with shorter rivers. In fact, our first outing took us to the Little River, which delivers the waters of the San Gabriel, Lampasas and Leon rivers to the muddy Brazos River — or at least it’s muddy at that point along its long and winding way.
The Little, however, is not the shortest in Texas. That title belongs to the Comal River, which is confined within the city limits of New Braunfels.
What about the vast expanses of western desert and plains? All of that space is, in fact, drained by Texas rivers. The Canadian, Red, Brazos, Colorado, Pecos and Rio Grande watersheds encompass much of those normally dry stretches.
An argument can be made that part of our state’s independent identity comes from the fact that almost all our rivers, with some obvious exceptions, do not flow into or from other states. Back when water travel beat out overland transportation, our separated watersheds proved yet another deterrent to physical and cultural connection to the rest of the U.S.
Joe and I grew up in large families. Independently, we were that annoying child in the backseat of the station wagon who insisted that the family stop at each Texas historical marker, roadside attraction, local history museum or small-town eatery.
We were not often successful in this quest as children, but as middle-aged men with some free weekends each year, we were determined to brake and soak up the local atmosphere as often as possible. If that meant a tiny trading post in Telegraph along the South Llano River or a village of historical structures and museums at Washington-on-the Brazos, we darn well stopped and took our time.
In just the first month of Think, Texas as a free weekly digital newsletter — with some two dozen stories or links each coming your way each Tuesday — I’ve received gracious invitations and tips from across the state to stop by the next time I’m in the neighborhood.
Joe and I plan to revisit the out-of-the-way James and Pease rivers — which we consider “half-forgotten” by most Texans — in January. We are already scoping out the historical sites available along the way. Your counsel is welcome.