John Graves, Brazos River Advocate
John Graves (1920-2013), a 1942 graduate of Rice University (then Rice Institute), in Houston, Texas, published the critically-acclaimed Goodbye To a River (1960) after taking a long canoe trip down the Brazos River in 1957. It fits well with other classic environmental literature, like Walden (Thoreau), My First Summer in the Sierra and Travels in Alaska (Muir), Everglades: River of Grass (Douglas) and Arctic Dreams (Lopez).
The River is under the jurisdiction of the Brazos River Authority, which was founded in 1929 and encompasses an enormous area, approximately the size of the state of Tennessee. As residents move into areas of Texas with an inadequate quantity of water, the Brazos River Authority strives to meet the challenge through creative strategies to manage the water supply for the state of Texas into the future.
We recommend taking the book with you, if you are brave enough to follow the same route. Find out current information and how to stay safe on the journey at https://brazos.org. Through that website, you can check reservoir levels in various areas, weather conditions, boat ramp availability, and read recent environmental studies.
Watch a 2019 video about protecting the Brazos River here: https://youtu.be/zM7YPzqPw-Q.
The trek begins at the dam Graves campaigned against. A bittersweet reminder of his work.
“I would be annoyed if I were any more in tune with modern sensibilities. I was shaped differently. The world in which I grew up was Texan and Southern, and it had many, many failings. I think I’ve gotten rid of most of the bad things in myself from that earlier age, but I don’t adjust to the way things are progressing now.” — John Graves
This is the second stop on Part One of our Texas Author Adventures Trail.