Crossing Rio Pecos
Publication Year: 2012
Long after irrigation and dams rendered the river a polluted trickle, Patrick Dearen went seeking out the crossings and the stories behind them. In Crossing Rio Pecos—a follow-up to his Castle Gap and the Pecos Frontier—he draws upon years of research to relate the history and folklore of all the crossings—Horsehead, Pontoon, Pope’s, Emigrant, Salt, Spanish Dam, Adobe, “S,” and Lancaster. Meticulously documented, Crossing Rio Pecos emerges as the definitive study of these gateways which were so vital to the opening of the western frontier.
Published by: TCU Press
Series: Chisholm Trail Series
Title Page, Copyright
Patrick Dearen is well acquainted with that obnoxious, noxious, tortured, torturous stream of water going by the name of Pecos, Writer, photographer, backpacker, and tireless researcher, Dearen has been up and down the river countless times by canoe and on foot. Most of his labors have been afoot—plodding and trodding its Texas length, seeking out crossings. ...
Chapter 1: River of the West
The story of the Rio Pecos in frontier Texas is really the story of its crossings, for generally these vital "gateways to the west" harbored mans only intimate contact with a deadly river otherwise walled by barrier banks. ...
Chapter 2: Pope's Crossing
Down from present New Mexico the river came, a moat of brine and mud on a snake-track course bound for the creosote flats and wind-hewn sands of West Texas. Just below the border, it hesitated, as if unsure of the desert ahead. Hooking back to within a mile of New Mexico, it finally surrendered, turning southward to slither reluctantly through an unforgiving land. ...
Chapter 3: Emigrant Crossing
Emigrant Crossing, splitting the Pecos River twelve miles southeast of present Barstow, long stood as both a threat and a doorway for wagoners trekking west along the Emigrant Road to California, The discovery of gold near Slitter's Mill in California in January 1848 set in motion this human stampede,1 ...
Chapter 4: Horsehead Crossing
Cattlemen called the Pecos a graveyard,1 Buffalo hunters likened the river to hell.2 And in all its nine hundred miles, westering pioneers feared most a yards-wide span that early traveler Stephen Powers judged "the very abode and throne of death."3...
Chapter 5: Spanish Dam Crossing
Below a great rock that marked a ford and served as a lookout against Apaches, the Pecos rushes through a jumble of boulders laid by pioneer hands. ...
Chapter 6: Pontoon Crossing
Floating on the Pecos ten miles northwest of present Iraan, Pontoon Bridge, built in 1870, immediately became the most important crossing point ever known on this treacherous river. Twice by the late 1860s, authorities had bridged the river downstream near Fort Lancaster, but it had refused to be tamed, its sudden floods sweeping away the crude structures. ...
Chapter 7: Lancaster Crossing
It was Monday, March 5, 1849. For Captain William H. C. Whiting and his command, it was a moment of desperation. Three weeks before, they had forged west from San Antonio to blaze a road toward El Paso, but now the want of water ruled them. ...
Chapter 8: Other Crossings
Although the aforementioned sites constituted the most significant crossings for travelers in frontier Texas, three other fords in particular, including the earliest known, also gave passage at times. ...
On May 28, 1923, Santa Rita #1 blew in near Texon twenty-eight miles northeast of the Pecos and ushered in the West Texas oil boom.1 The consequences for the river were not all good. In 1931 Dee and Nora Locklin, crossing a cattle herd below old Pontoon Crossing, lost six cows to an oil slick in the river.2 ...
About the Author
Born in 1951, Patrick Dearen grew up in Sterling City, Texas, and earned a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin. A former award winning reporter for two West Texas daily newspapers, he is the author of six other books, ...