“I have never seen a river that I could not love. Moving water has a fascinating vitality.
It has power and grace and associations.
It has a thousand colors and a thousand shapes,
yet it follows laws so definite that the tiniest streamlet is an exact replica of a great river.”
— author Roderick L. Haig-Brown, who was a Canadian writer and conservationist.
This Valentine’s Day, take a moment to reflect on all the images that come to mind when you think of love. Family and friends, sure. But what about reading a good book while stretched out in a hammock on a fall day? What about that first sip of coffee to touch your lips after a restful night’s sleep? What about the way your dog, lighting snoring, mimics running while he dreams?
And, perhaps, being on the river…
“Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.”
— Winnie the Pooh
There are some really remarkable aspects of the Brazos River. For instance, did you consider the river’s watershed stretches from New Mexico to the Gulf of Mexico? That watershed stretches 1,050 miles. That’s roughly 2.1 million steps depending, of course, on your stride.
The river itself forms at the confluence of the river's upper forks, the Salt and Double Mountain, in Stonewall County, which was named for Andrew “Stonewall” Jackson.
Travel the length of the river; the Brazos descends at a rate diminishing from 3½ feet a mile to one-half foot a mile until it pours into the Gulf of Mexico, two miles south of the city of Freeport in Brazoria County. The natural mouth of the river was located at Quintana, two miles southeast of Freeport. However, shifting Gulf sandbars created a hazard to shipping, and in 1929 the US Army Corps of Engineers diverted the mouth of the river into the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway.
The Brazos crosses most of the topographic regions of Texas - the High Plains, Blackland Prairie, Edwards Plateau, Coastal Sand Plains, and Gulf Coast Prairies & Marshes, offering a variety of landscapes, including canyons in the upper portion, rolling hills and plains in the central, and beaches near the Gulf.
There are seven principal tributaries and 15 subtributaries within the watershed.
Many legends surround the name itself. The full name of the river, often used in Spanish accounts, is Los Brazos de Dios, "the arms of God."
“A river does not just happen; it has a beginning and an end. Its story is written in rich earth, in ice, and in water-carved stone, and its story as the lifeblood of the land is filled with colour, music and thunder.”
— Andy Russell in The Life of a River
Perhaps the love of the Brazos though is not in the details, but in her life-sustaining qualities.
The river and the reservoirs dammed within her provide water to cities, water districts, water supply corporations, agricultural users, irrigators, steam electric generating facilities, manufacturing entities, and mining operations within the Brazos basin.
Water is, after all, essential to life. Water is used for drinking, industrial applications, hydropower, waste disposal, recreation and more. And in some areas, water supplies are being depleted due to increased population growth, development and climate variations.
Perhaps, however, it is the memories created that cumulate that love. For many, Valentine’s Day isn’t about the flowers or the cards. Commercialization of Valentine’s Day really ramped up in 1913 when Hallmark Cards of Kansas City, Mo., began mass producing valentines.
Fall in love with a river through memories and adventures camping on its sandbars. Waking to the soothing sounds of water moving past as the sunlight infiltrates a tent. The unrestrained laughter of a loved one catching their biggest fish out of the stream. The bonding between lifelong friends as they canoe a portion of the Brazos on that long-awaited three-day weekend.
This Valentine’s Day, we stop to reflect on all the reasons we love the Brazos and all the adventures that await with her.
“Water is fluid, soft, and yielding.
But water will wear away rock, which is rigid and cannot yield.
As a rule, whatever is fluid, soft, and yielding will overcome whatever is rigid and hard.
This is another paradox: What is soft is strong.”
— Chinese Philosopher Lao-Tzu