Dalton Bend – Brazos River 2012
Goodbye to a River is a book about the Brazos River by John Graves. He actually did a canoe trip from Palo Pinto County to Hood County several years before the river was dammed at De Cordova Bend to form Lake Granbury and the book is a retelling of his trip, mixed with local legends and stories about the history of the area. There were many dams proposed on the Brazos, but ultimately only three were constructed, and this was partially due to awareness raised by this book. I think of Graves as the Upton Sinclair of North Texas, and he is legendary in these parts. He died recently after a long life in one of the most beautiful areas of this state. This is the big island at Dalton Bend just upstream from a canoe rental place ran by the Rochelle family. They are good people and I have been going to this spot since I was a kid on camping trips with my father, who grew up on the Brazos. He taught me about plants, how the fish and animals move, where to catch bait, where to set trot lines, and a lot more. If you are fishing in the evening try water just below rapids at about two to four feet of depth. The fish move up into these areas at night to feed on minnows and other bait fish.
This spot is very powerful, magical and has immense energy. There is a massive limestone shelf on the upstream side of the island which is great for swimming. The water is deep here. This is the kind of place you think of years after having been there with a sense of longing. You always want to go back. This was Comanche country back in the 1800’s, and that is distant family to me, on the paternal side. Maybe that’s a part of the connection my father and I have with this place.
Now there is a lot of mining and industrial activity in the area, and I always see many dead fish when I go there. My father recently told me he no longer trusts eating fish from the Brazos, although he lives further downstream in Hood County. Industrial activity also has taken a toll on that part of the river. Certainly things have changed since my days as a boy back in the eighties, and not just at the river. I’d like to see this place again in the future, but something tells me my journeys in this part of the world have come to an end. That means new beginnings and there are big changes coming in my life. Goodbyes, new places and new faces. It is time for a change after 37 years in the Lone Star State.
I highly recommend Graves’ book for those who are interested in Texas History, the Brazos or just interesting reading.