The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 494
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
The Historic Seacoast of Texas. By J. U. Salvant and David G. McComb. (Austin:
University of Texas Press, 1999. Pp. 96. Illustrations, map. ISBN 0-292-
77741-8. $24.95 cloth.)
The Historc Seacoast of Texas provides an interesting and unique view of the
Texas Gulf Coast from the joint perspective of an artist and an essayist. The origi-
nal idea for the book came from the artist, J. U. Salvant, who grew up in this area
of Texas and wanted to share her paintings and memories of the area. She pro-
vides various illustrations of what can be seen and what might have been seen in a
particular location along the coast. The essayist, David G. McComb, translates Sal-
vant's memories into the text portion of the book. He sprinkles bits of history
with environmental and human geography enticing the reader to learn more
about the Texas Gulf Coast, which extends from the Sabine Crossing near the
Texas-Louisiana border to Boca Chica and Padre Island in South Texas near the
U.S.-Mexico border. An informative location map of the Texas Gulf Coast is pro-
vided in the introduction for readers who are unfamiliar with this part of Texas.
Each essay (chapter) follows a similar pattern whereby the major historical
events and people of each location are discussed. Economic upswings and down-
turns of places such as Galveston, Corpus Christi, and Padre Island are highlight-
ed. Many of these boom and bust cycles stemmed from natural resources in
these areas such as shrimp and crude oil. Industrial and technological advance-
ment that came, and sometimes went, along the Gulf Coast of Texas are also in-
cluded. The story of large corporations such as the Dow Chemical Company
gives the reader a glimpse of why there are a number of small company towns
near Galveston and Houston, as well as illustrating that money does have a large
influence in the lives of people (Chapter 5).
McComb does a fine job of considering the unique environmental aspects of
the Texas Gulf Coast and how the distinctive physical environment and popula-
tions of each place interact with each other. In many of the chapters the preva-
lent natural disaster of the Gulf Coast area, hurricanes, are highlighted. A vivid
picture of the landscape damage, both physical and human, is provided. These
discussions also tell of what happened to the inhabitants after a devastating hurri-
cane. Other examples of McComb's intertwining of humans and nature include
the natural silting process of the Sabine River and its effects (Chapter 5), the
shrimping industry near Galveston and some steps that were taken to preserve
the endangered sea turtle population, and the focus on conservation and preser-
vation of species such as the whooping crane near Aransas Pass (Chapter 7).
The illustrations done by Salvant enrich the quality and understanding of
each geographic location. Each illustration provides a glimpse of either the past
or present landscape of each place. A sense of economic status can be felt by
looking at some scenes, while others provide a sense of pride and sentiment of
yesteryear. The captions for each illustration provide a bit more information on
the topic of the scene that the text touched on. The placement of these illustra-
tions seemed well placed and well documented, with few exceptions.
Despite the small problems of misplaced illustrations and, at times, choppy,
difficult to follow text, this book provides a broad view of the environmental and
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/562/?rotate=270: accessed July 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.