Brazos River

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Brazos River
Brazos River below Possum Kingdom Lake, Palo Pinto County, Texas.jpg
Brazos River downstream of Possum Kingdom Lake, Palo Pinto County, Texas
Brazos watershed.png
Brazos River watershed
Location
Country United States
State Texas
Physical characteristics
Source Llano Estacado
Source confluence Stonewall County, Texas
 - coordinates 33°16′07″N100°0′37″W / 33.26861°N 100.01028°W / 33.26861; -100.01028 [1]
 - elevation453 m (1,486 ft)
Mouth Gulf of Mexico
 - location
Brazoria County, Texas
 - coordinates
28°52′33″N95°22′42″W / 28.87583°N 95.37833°W / 28.87583; -95.37833 Coordinates: 28°52′33″N95°22′42″W / 28.87583°N 95.37833°W / 28.87583; -95.37833 [1]
 - elevation
0 m (0 ft)
Length1,352 km (840 mi)
Basin size116,000 km2 (45,000 sq mi)
Discharge 
 - location Rosharon, TX
 - average237.5 m3/s (8,390 cu ft/s)
 - minimum0.76 m3/s (27 cu ft/s)
 - maximum2,390 m3/s (84,000 cu ft/s)

The Brazos River ( /ˈbræzəs/ ( Loudspeaker.svg listen ) BRAZ-əs), called the Río de los Brazos de Dios (translated as "The River of the Arms of God") by early Spanish explorers, is the 11th-longest river in the United States at 1,280 miles (2,060 km) from its headwater source at the head of Blackwater Draw, Curry County, New Mexico [2] to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico with a 45,000-square-mile (116,000 km2) drainage basin. [3] Being one of Texas' largest rivers, [4] it is sometimes used to mark the boundary between East Texas and West Texas.

Blackwater Draw Dry stream channel in New Mexico, USA

Blackwater Draw is an intermittent stream channel about 140 km (87 mi) long, with headwaters in Roosevelt County, New Mexico, about 18 km (11 mi) southwest of Clovis, New Mexico, and flows southeastward across the Llano Estacado toward the city of Lubbock, Texas, where it joins Yellow House Draw to form Yellow House Canyon at the head of the North Fork Double Mountain Fork Brazos River. It stretches across eastern Roosevelt County, New Mexico, and Bailey, Lamb, Hale, and Lubbock Counties of West Texas and drains an area of 4,040 km2 (1,560 sq mi).

Curry County, New Mexico County in the United States

Curry County is a county located in the U.S. state of New Mexico. As of the 2010 census, the population was 48,376. Its county seat is Clovis. The county is named in honor of George Curry, territorial governor of New Mexico from 1907 to 1910.

Contents

The river is closely associated with Texas history, particularly the Austin settlement and Texas Revolution eras. Today major Texas institutions like Texas A&M University and Baylor University are located close to the river, as are parts of metropolitan Houston.

Texas Revolution military conflict

The Texas Revolution was a rebellion of colonists from the United States and Tejanos in putting up armed resistance to the centralist government of Mexico. While the uprising was part of a larger one that included other provinces opposed to the regime of President Antonio López de Santa Anna, the Mexican government believed the United States had instigated the Texas insurrection with the goal of annexation. The Mexican Congress passed the Tornel Decree, declaring that any foreigners fighting against Mexican troops "will be deemed pirates and dealt with as such, being citizens of no nation presently at war with the Republic and fighting under no recognized flag." Only the province of Texas succeeded in breaking with Mexico, establishing the Republic of Texas, and eventually being annexed by the United States.

Texas A&M University Public research university in College Station, Texas, United States

Texas A&M University is a public research university in College Station, Texas, United States. Since 1948, it has been the founding member of the Texas A&M University System. The Texas A&M system endowment is among the 10 largest endowments in the nation. As of 2017, Texas A&M's student body is the largest in Texas and the second largest in the United States. Texas A&M's designation as a land, sea, and space grant institution–the only university in Texas to hold all three designations–reflects a range of research with ongoing projects funded by organizations such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Naval Research. In 2001, Texas A&M was inducted as a member of the Association of American Universities. The school's students, alumni—over 450,000 strong—and sports teams are known as Aggies. The Texas A&M Aggies athletes compete in 18 varsity sports as a member of the Southeastern Conference.

Baylor University private university in Waco, Texas, United States

Baylor University, or simply Baylor, is a private Christian university in Waco, Texas. Chartered in 1845 by the last Congress of the Republic of Texas, it is one of the oldest continuously operating universities in Texas and one of the first educational institutions west of the Mississippi River in the United States. Located on the banks of the Brazos River next to I-35, between the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex and Austin, the university's 1,000-acre campus is the largest Baptist university campus in the world. Baylor University's athletic teams, known as the Bears, participate in 19 intercollegiate sports. The university is a member of the Big 12 Conference in the NCAA Division I. It is affiliated with the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

Geography

The Brazos proper begins at the confluence of the Salt Fork and Double Mountain Fork, two tributaries of the Upper Brazos that rise on the high plains of the Llano Estacado, flowing 840 miles (1,350 km) southeast through the center of Texas. Another major tributary of the Upper Brazos is the Clear Fork Brazos River, which passes by Abilene and joins the main river near Graham. Important tributaries of the Lower Brazos include the Paluxy River, the Bosque River, the Little River, Yegua Creek, the Nolan River, the Leon River, the San Gabriel River, the Lampasas River, and the Navasota River. [5]

Salt Fork Brazos River river in the United States of America

The Salt Fork Brazos River is a braided, highly intermittent stream about 150 mi (240 km) long, heading along the edge of the Llano Estacado about 26 mi (42 km) east-southeast of Lubbock, Texas. From its source, it flows generally east-southeastward to join the Double Mountain Fork to form the Brazos River about 12 mi (19 km) west-northwest of Haskell, Texas. The Salt Fork stretches across portions of Crosby, Garza, Kent, and Stonewall counties of West Texas.

Double Mountain Fork Brazos River river in United States

The Double Mountain Fork Brazos River is an ephemeral, sandy-braided stream about 170 mi (280 km) long, heading on the Llano Estacado of West Texas about 11.5 mi (18.5 km) southeast of Tahoka, Texas, flowing east-northeast across the western Rolling Plains to join the Salt Fork, forming the Brazos River about 17 mi (27 km) west-northwest of Haskell, Texas.

Llano Estacado Southwestern United States in New Mexico and Texas

Llano Estacado, often translated as Staked Plains, is a region in the Southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas. One of the largest mesas or tablelands on the North American continent, the elevation rises from 3,000 feet (900 m) in the southeast to over 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in the northwest, sloping almost uniformly at about 10 feet per mile (1.9 m/km).

Initially running east towards Dallas-Fort Worth, the Brazos turns south, passing through Waco and the Baylor University campus, further south to near Calvert, Texas then past Bryan and College Station, then through Richmond, Texas in Fort Bend County, and empties into the Gulf of Mexico in the marshes just south of Freeport. [3]

Fort Worth, Texas City in Texas, United States

Fort Worth is a city in the U.S. state of Texas. It is the 15th-largest city in the United States and fifth-largest city in Texas. It is the county seat of Tarrant County, covering nearly 350 square miles (910 km2) into four other counties: Denton, Johnson, Parker, and Wise. According to the 2017 census estimates, Fort Worth's population is 874,168. Fort Worth is the second-largest city in the Dallas–Fort Worth–Arlington metropolitan area, which is the 4th most populous metropolitan area in the United States.

Waco, Texas City in Texas, United States

Waco is a city in central Texas and is the county seat of McLennan County, Texas, United States. It is situated along the Brazos River and I-35, halfway between Dallas and Austin. The city had a 2010 population of 124,805, making it the 22nd-most populous city in the state. The 2017 US Census population estimate is 136,436 The Waco Metropolitan Statistical Area consists of McLennan and Falls Counties, which had a 2010 population of 234,906. Falls County was added to the Waco MSA in 2013. The 2018 US Census population estimate for the Waco MSA is 271,942.

Calvert, Texas City in Texas, United States

Calvert is a city in Robertson County, Texas, United States. As of the 2010 census, the city population was 1,192. It is located approximately halfway between Waco and Bryan-College Station at the intersection of Texas State Highway 6 and Farm to Market Roads 1644 and 979, on the Southern Pacific line nine miles north of Hearne in west central Robertson County. For the last 35 years, Calvert has enjoyed a relative success as an antique "capital". The town is named for Robert Calvert, an early settler who served in the Texas Legislature representing Robertson and Milam Counties.

The main stem of the Brazos is dammed in three places, all north of Waco, forming Possum Kingdom Lake, Lake Granbury, and Lake Whitney. Of these three, Granbury was the last to be completed, in 1969. When its construction was proposed in the mid-1950s, John Graves wrote the book Goodbye to a River . The Whitney Dam, located on the upper Brazos, provides hydroelectric power, flood control, and irrigation to enable efficient cotton growth in the river valley [6] . A small municipal dam (Lake Brazos Dam) is near the downstream city limit of Waco at the end of the Baylor campus; it raises the level of the river through the city to form a town lake. This impoundment of the Brazos through Waco is locally called Lake Brazos. A total of nineteen major reservoirs are located along the Brazos. [7]

Possum Kingdom Lake lake of the United States of America

Possum Kingdom Lake, is a reservoir on the Brazos River located primarily in Palo Pinto County Texas. It was the first water supply reservoir constructed in the Brazos River basin. The lake has an area of approximately 17,000 acres (6,900 ha) with 310 miles (500 km) of shoreline. It holds 750,000 acre feet (930,000,000 m3) of water with 550,000 acre feet (680,000,000 m3) available for water supply.

Lake Granbury

Lake Granbury is a North Texas reservoir near Granbury, Texas. It was created in 1969 and is one of three lakes damming the Brazos River.

Lake Whitney (Texas)

Lake Whitney is a flood control reservoir on the main stem of the Brazos River in Texas. It is located on River Mile Marker 442 and controls drainage for 17,656 square miles (45,730 km2) of Texas and parts of New Mexico. The reservoir encompasses a surface area of more than 23,500 acres and 225 miles (362 km) of shoreline. The area consists of rolling, tallgrass prairies; cedar trees; hardwood timber; and 100 ft (30 m) bluffs and rock points. Lake Whitney is also part of the Texas Lakes Trail Region of North Texas.

North Fork Double Mountain Fork Brazos River river in the United States of America

The North Fork Double Mountain Fork Brazos River is an intermittent stream about 75 mi (121 km) long, heading at the junction of Blackwater Draw and Yellow House Draw in the city of Lubbock, flowing generally southeastward to its mouth on the Double Mountain Fork Brazos River in western Kent County. It crosses portions of Lubbock, Crosby, Garza, and Kent counties in West Texas.

Kent County, Texas County in the United States

Kent County is a county located in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2010 census, its population was 808, making it the sixth-least populous county in Texas. Its county seat is Jayton. The county was created in 1876 and later organized in 1892. It is named for Andrew Kent, who died at the Battle of the Alamo. Kent County is one of six prohibition or entirely dry counties in the state of Texas.

Rotan, Texas City in Texas, United States

Rotan is a city in Fisher County, Texas, United States. The population was 1,508 at the 2010 census, down from 1,611 at the 2000 census.

History

An advertisement for the steamboat Yellow Stone, December 1836. Packet service between Quintana and Washington, Republic of Texas. Sb yellowstone dec36.png
An advertisement for the steamboat Yellow Stone, December 1836. Packet service between Quintana and Washington, Republic of Texas.

In 1822, the lower river valley of the Brazos River became one of the major Anglo-American settlement sites in Texas. This was one of the first English-speaking colonies along the Brazos and was founded by Stephen F. Austin at San Felipe de Austin. [8] In 1836, Texas declared independence from Mexico at Washington-on-the-Brazos, a settlement in now Washington County that is known as "the birthplace of Texas". [9] Brazos River was also the scene of a battle between the Texas Navy and Mexican Navy during the Texas Revolution. Texas Navy ship Independence was defeated by one Mexican vessel.

It is unclear when it was first named by European explorers, since it was often confused with the Colorado River not far to the south, but it was certainly seen by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle. Later Spanish accounts call it Los Brazos de Dios (the arms of God), for which name there were several different explanations, all involving it being the first water to be found by desperately thirsty parties. In 1842, Indian commissioner of Texas, Ethan Stroud established a trading post on this river.

The river was important for navigation before and after the American Civil War, and steam boats sailed as far up the river as Washington-on-the-Brazos. [10] While attempts to improve commercial navigation on the river continued, railroads proved more reliable. The Brazos River also flooded, often seriously, on a regular basis before a piecemeal levee system was replaced, notably in 1913 when a massive flood affected the course of the river. The river is primarily important today as a source of water for power, irrigation, and recreation. The water is administered by the Brazos River Authority. [5]

The 2000 book, Sandbars and Sternwheelers: Steam Navigation on the Brazos by Pamela A. Puryear and Nath Winfield, Jr., with introduction by J. Milton Nance, examines the early vessels that attempted to navigate the Brazos. [11]

On June 2, 2016, the rising of the river required evacuations for portions of Brazoria County. [12]

Brazos watershed

The Brazos River watershed covers a total area of 119,174 square kilometers. [13] Within the watershed lie 42 lakes and rivers which have a combined storage capacity of 2.5 million acre-feet. [14] The Brazos watershed also has an estimated ground water availability of 119,275 acre-feet per year. [15] Approximately 31% of the land use within the watershed is cropland. Approximately 61% is grassland (30%) shrubland (19.8%) and forest (11%) while urban use only makes up 4.6%. The population density within the watershed is 19.5 people per square kilometer. [13]

Water quality concerns

The main water quality issues within the Brazos Watershed are high nutrient loads, high bacterial and salinity levels and low dissolved oxygen. These water quality issues can be attributed to livestock, fertilizer and chemical run off. Sources of run off are croplands, pastures, and industrial sites among others. [16] Fracking is also cause for concern regarding water quality within the Brazos Watershed. The Barnett Shale lies partially within the watershed which is the second largest source of natural gas in the US. [17] Studies have shown that the watershed receiving the most toxic pollution is the lower Brazos river which received 33.4 million pounds of toxic waste in 2012. [18]

Recreation

Canoeing is a very popular recreational activity on the Brazos River with many locations favorable for launching and recovery. The best paddling can be found immediately below Possum Kingdom Lake and Lake Granbury. [19]

Sandbar Camping is also permitted since the entire streambed of the river is considered to be state-owned public property. Fishing, camping, and picnicking are legal here, including on the sandbars. [20] Several scout camps are located along the Brazos River and they support a wide range of water and shoreline activities for scouts, youth groups and family groups. [21]

The Brazos River Authority maintains several public campsites along the river and at the lakes. Hunting and fishing are also permitted at select locations along the river.

Outdoor enthusiasts have the opportunity to view the area's scenery and the wildlife on the river.[ citation needed ] Fly fishing and river fishing for largemouth bass are common. [22]

Cultural references

See also

Footnotes

  1. 1 2 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Brazos River
  2. Kammerer, J.C. (1987). "Largest Rivers in the United States". United States Geological Survey . Retrieved 2006-07-15.
  3. 1 2 Hendrickson Kenneth E., Jr. (1999-02-15). "Brazos River". The Handbook of Texas Online. The General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas State Historical Association. Archived from the original on July 10, 2011. Retrieved 2006-07-22.
  4. "Brazos River." Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 11 Aug. 2018. academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/Brazos-River/16291. Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.
  5. 1 2 Hendrickson, Jr., Kenneth E. (1981). The Waters of the Brazos: A History of the Brazos River Authority 1929-1979. Waco, TX: The Texian Press.
  6. "Brazos River." Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 11 Aug. 2018. academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/Brazos-River/16291. Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.
  7. "River Basin Map of Texas". Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin. 1996. Archived from the original (JPEG) on 2012-04-10. Retrieved 2006-07-15.
  8. "Brazos River." Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 11 Aug. 2018. academic.eb.com/levels/collegiate/article/Brazos-River/16291. Accessed 27 Nov. 2018.
  9. “Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site.” Texas Parks and Wildlife, 6 Nov. 2018, tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/washington-on-the-brazos.
  10. "BRAZOS RIVER". tshaonline.org. 12 June 2010.
  11. Sandbars and Sternwheelers: Steam Navigation on the Brazos. Texas A&M University Press. 2000. ISBN   1-58544-058-2 . Retrieved October 24, 2010.
  12. Foxhall, Emily. "Mandatory evacuations ordered in Brazoria County - Houston Chronicle". Chron.com. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  13. 1 2 "USGS EDNA-Derived Watershed Characteristics". edna.usgs.gov. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  14. "River Basins - Brazos River Basin | Texas Water Development Board". www.twdb.texas.gov. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  15. "Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District". Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  16. "The Brazos River Authority > About Us > Water Quality > Watershed Protection Plans > Leon River WPP". www.brazos.org. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  17. "Texas and fracking - SourceWatch". www.sourcewatch.org. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  18. "Southern waters imperiled by toxic pollution". Facing South. 2014-06-23. Retrieved 2016-10-12.
  19. "Brazos River & Paddling Trails - Parks & Recreation - City of Waco, Texas". Waco-texas.com. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  20. "The Brazos River Authority > About Us > Education > Water School". Brazos.org. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  21. "Texas Scout Camps". Maintour.com. 2013-11-26. Retrieved 2016-06-04.
  22. "Home". Brazosriverfishing.com. Retrieved 2016-06-04.

Further reading

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Little River (Texas) river in Texas, United States of America

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Lake Waco

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Brazos River Authority

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De Cordova Bend Dam

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<i>Yellowstone</i> (steamboat) steamboat

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