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William Davis on the Physical Geography of Texas

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William C. Davis wrote:


"The rivers, especially the Colorado, Brazos, Guadalupe, and Nueces, were only crossable at a few fords when in full flow, and sometimes not even then, making ferries vital, for bridges as yet could span only the minor tributaries. The communities that appeared by 1800 grew up beside the rivers: San Antonio de Bexar, capital of the early province under Spain, and known colloquially both as San Antonio and simply as Bexar, sat on the upper reaches of the San Antonio River, one hundred and forty miles from the coast.

Downstream, just fifty miles from the Gulf, the river passed La Bahia, which men would later rename Goliad. Gonzales grew up seventy miles due east of Bexar, and fifty miles north of Gonzales sat Mina on the edge of the Hill Country. The major future settlement would land between the Lavaca and the Trinity, but as of 1800 that stretch of territory sat virtually uninhabited except by a few tribes of Koshatta, Karankawa, and other native peoples. Above the Trinity almost no settlement appeared except at Nacocdoches some fifty miles from the Sabine. Meanwhile, all of that vast empire north and west of the settle area was the home ground of the feared Comanche.

Primal forces of earth itself created this Texas, ripped it apart in the separation of the continent, then drove it back together in a geological metaphor for the human history to come. Indeed, even as the first European men ventured north of the Nueces to find that rich land of gentle breezes and tall waving grass, the strains in the earth's crust continued their epochal battle to shape the land. But then came men with their own ideas about shaping a world above all that terrestrial turmoil, men with younger traditions than those of tectonic stresses, but just as deeply ingrained in them as were the shifting of the plates beneath their feet. They, too, carried in their blood a compulsion for change, for destruction, revolution, and rebuilding, only theirs was not the patience of the eons. The primal forces that drove them wanted metamorphosis within the scale of a lifetime rather than over uncounted millennia. They came because the earth itself made this Texas a lure. They stayed because of what they saw they might do with it. And inevitably, they warred among themselves in the conflict of their dreams.

Chance and geography placed Texas at one of history's crossroads. At the dawn of a new century in a New World, that intersection was about to become very busy indeed."


----- William C. Davis, "Lone Star Rising: The Revolutionary Birth of the Texas Republic"

Beauty is only skin deep but Texas is to the bone.

Posted : 18th January 2020 12:34 pm