The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 3, July 1899 - April, 1900 Page: 62
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Texas Historical Association Quarterly.
be the reasonable expectation that deer hunters would hunt along
the ridges at the sides of the cautions, where deer would be found
lying in the shade of the cedar trees in the heat of the day.
Then again this plateau has on its surface a vast number of old
rock heaps, commonly said in this country to have been used by
Indians for roasting the sotol and maguey plant, as well as the
fruits of the chase. During certain seasons of the year this country
must have had a considerable Indian population, living on roasted
sotol and venison. These seasons could only have come after heavy
rains had stored up water in little earth or rock tanks. The heavy
rains usually fall in that country from July to November, and it
seems to have been in this time of the year that de Vaca and his
comrades passed through.
Shortly afterwards they passed over "a great river coming from
the north." I take this to have been the Pecos about forty miles
above its junction with the Rio Grande. At the present day the
Pecos carries very little water in its lower stretches during a great
part of the year; and, while a Spaniard would unhesitatingly call
it a river, he might pause before calling it a "great river." The
scarcity of water at this day is due to a number of large irrigating
canals built during the last ten years, which have almost drained
the river. But when I first saw the Pecos it was a very different
stream. In 1880 it was of very regular dimensions for three hun-
dred miles above its mouth. It was generally from sixty-five to
one hundred feet in width, from seven to ten feet deep, with a
rapid current of a red cast, and fordable in very few places. This
was probably what de Vaca saw, and to the Spaniards it was a
"great river." Certainly no other stream in Chihuahua, West
Texas or New Mexico can so correctly be called a "great river"
unless it be the Rio Grande, and I shall now show that this river
was probably passed soon afterwards.
After crossing this river they traveled eighty leagues before
coming to a "very large river," which they forded, the water
coming up to their breasts. This I take to have been the Rio
Grande below Presidio del Norte. The distance assigned between
the two rivers-eighty leagues-is too great for a direct line on the
route which I have assigned to de Vaca. But I think their route
must have been subject to very considerable deflections in order to
obtain water, which is very scarce in that country. Besides, I am
inclined to think that de Vaca has overstated distances more than
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Texas State Historical Association. The Quarterly of the Texas State Historical Association, Volume 3, July 1899 - April, 1900, periodical, 1900; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101015/m1/70/: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.