The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960 Page: 240
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
It is not surprising that, without accurate instruments or well-
drawn maps and charts, the early explorers often confused Texas
rivers, since many of them are close together, run parallel south-
eastward to the Gulf, and are alike in appearance. The waters of
a number of these are red-colored from the clay in their beds, and
the surrounding topography is similar; consequently a description
of one would seem to fit any of several. Having heard or read of
a certain river by name, these men might easily suppose that they
had reached it, when, as a matter of fact, it was another stream.
Apparently, also, if they did not know by what name a river or
arroyo was called, they themselves christened it.
The full name of the Brazos is often used in Spanish accounts,
and many legends have grown up explaining the reason for the
name. Probably the earliest is that, as Coronado and his men were
wandering on the Staked Plains and about to perish from thirst,
Indians guided them to a small stream which the Spaniards then
named the Brazos de Dios.
Other legends relate stories of men on storm-tossed ships in the
Gulf of Mexico who discovered this river by following a muddy
streak in the waters and finding, by the current, the mouth of a
wide river, which was on a rise and throwing its waters far out to
sea. The sailors followed the river upstream beyond the tidal
mixture of salt, and there, after long thirsty weeks at sea, drank
the fresh waters and in gratitude called the river the "Arms of
Still another account fixes the naming of the stream in the
176o's, when extreme drought made it impossible for the Spanish
miners on the San Sab:i to work. Heading toward the Waco vil-
lage, they found a never-failing river and named it Brazos de Dios.'
It is well-known that throughout history water has dominated
human life; that while a man may live for weeks without food,
he can survive only a matter of days without water. Water is the
link of all living things, and it is small wonder that rivers, and
even smaller streams, are prominently mentioned in the journals,
diaries, letters, and other records of the early explorers and
7Handbook of Texas, I, zii.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 63, July 1959 - April, 1960, periodical, 1960; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101186/m1/308/: accessed June 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.