Southwestern Historical Quarterly
nificant gifts, E. H. Sellards and I became the guests of Seashore
on a visit to the Big Bend site of our 1921 investigations-the
first time any one of us had been back since that time. A second
visit of four days was made in early June, 1953, in company with
J. W. Tyson, Jr. and a surveying party under the direction of
Curtis Hale of the General Land Office through the courtesy of
Land Commissioner Bascom Giles.
What we found was amazing. Had it not been for outstanding
bluff features we would have been completely unable to orient
ourselves. Even from unmistakably identifiable points of vantage
on the bluffs, the whole valley looked utterly strange. True, the
normal low-water channel at the apex of the bend was still against
the Oklahoma bluff; its course upstream diagonally across the
valley some four and a half miles to the Texas bluff followed the
Oklahoma bluff of our 1921 map to a point below the Missouri,
Kansas, and Texas railroad bridge.' But the appearance of the
valley was wholly changed. Whereas in 1921 the soils map of the
area showed approximately half of it to constitute a substantially
bare sand flat from which much sand was being transported by
the wind to form active dunes along and behind the vegetation-
covered cut-bank, in 1953 no such bare flats existed and no active
dunes appeared. Imagine coming to the edge of the sand flat with
the memory of conditions of 1921 in mind and being met with
the current thickets of Tamarix stretching entirely across the
recollected bare sand. Tamarix in even denser stand also covered
all the lowland flats between older fixed dunes over the entire
area lying back of the cut-banks on both the Texas and Oklahoma
sides. Goat Island, downstream from the principal Texas mainland
bulge and separated from it by a distinct high water channel of
bare sand in 1921, was tied firmly to the mainland in 1953, its
former separating channel now choked by such dense thickets
of Tamanix that only occasional relicts unfilled channel depres-
sions identify it as a former channel at all.
The mergence of Goat Island with the mainland is startlingly
offset, however, by erosional inroads into the upstream side of
the mainland bulge. Erosion has taken off more than half of the
'The railroad bridge was just downstream off the accompanying mapped area.
8An area left bare by recession of water.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 66, July 1962 - April, 1963. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101196/. Accessed July 26, 2014.