The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997

Book Reviews

As Leopold once noted, the ecologist's eye sees deeply into the past embodied
in the present environment, but it is also a kind of curse. It sees so much: the
evolution of a self-sufficient way of life into one dependent on petrochemicals
and store-bought foods, the conversion of primal forests to mud-rimmed reser-
voirs and sterile monocultures of loblolly pine. As Truett is well aware, at John
Henry Kirby's timber towns and elsewhere, his own people played their part in
this environmental transformation. "Big changes come by little cuts, and the tool
or weapon is in everybody's hands," series editor Franklin aptly observes.
Franklin also writes of Circling Back (in judgments with which I concur): "If
anything redeems the world of Angelina ... it is memory. For memory is this
landscape's fourth dimension. Truett has an extraordinary talent for sensing
and excavating the lower layers of the place. He starts from and comes back to
his own sense of things past and builds up from that to create a complex tapestry
of human stories filling up and filling out that landscape."
Austin THAD SITTON
Texas Forgotten Ports. Volume III. By Keith Gutherie. (Austin: Eakin Press, 1995.
Pp. 3oo. Preface, notes, bibliography, index. ISBN 0-89015-898-3.
$22.95.)
Waterborne transportation was a critical factor in the development of Anglo
Texas. For over a half century pioneers built their cities, plowed their fields, and
sent their products to market over waterways. The rivers and ports of Texas act-
ed as arteries that pumped life-giving energy into this rapidly growing frontier.
All kinds of craft, including keel boats, rafts, and flat-bottomed paddlewheel
steamboats exchanged cargoes between the rivers and the sea. This industry also
spawned its own subculture. This included local heroes, folklore, and mythology.
This colorful yet forgotten era expanded and prospered until the next genera-
tion of transportation, the iron horse, gobbled up the wealth of the rivers.
In this final volume of his trilogy on the forgotten ports of Texas, Keith
Gutherie chronicles waterborne traffic on the Trinity, Neches, Angelina, Sabine,
Guadalupe, Colorado, and San Antonio Rivers. He also traces the founding of
East Texas's most important deepwater ports: Beaumont, Orange, Port Arthur,
Port Neches, and Sabine Pass. Gutherie uncovers hundreds of people and
dozens of river ports that served a critical role in the early commercial and social
development of Texas. In most cases their legacy was short-lived, the victim of a
shifted river bank or a newly laid railroad track. But the process they fueled, the
settlement of the eastern half of Texas, continued to fruition.
Gutherie, a retired newspaper publisher, and his wife Iris, an accomplished il-
lustrator, have unearthed a gold mine of information that other researchers
hopefully will explore. Besides consulting the usual sources, they have scoured
many local libraries and history centers. They have uncovered a number of
prominent Texans, including Sam Houston, who, for a fee, promoted these ear-
ly river ports. Their book adequately tells the story of this important but over-
looked period of Texas history, but it does not fit the subject material into a

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 100, July 1996 - April, 1997. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101218/. Accessed August 22, 2014.