Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 3, Number 1, Spring, 1991 Page: 7
This periodical is part of the collection entitled: Legacies: a History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas and was provided to The Portal to Texas History by the Dallas Historical Society.
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This rare view taken from the west side of the Trinity River shows the Commerce Street bridge installed by
Sarah Cockrell in 1872 and the Dallas County Courthouse built in 1880. This courthouse burned in 1890
and was replaced by the present one.
The Trinity River Navigation Company
sent former riverboat captain L. B. Flateau to Washington
to request a half million dollar appropriation
from Congress with which to build thirty locks and
dams and clear a six-foot channel. Although he was
promptly turned down, the local group pressed ahead
with their stated goal of opening the river to navigation
from Dallas to Galveston. They commissioned
a 64-foot ster-wheeler named Snag Boat Dallas,
which was launched in November 1892. When
Snag Boat Dallas returned from its first venture at
clearing the river, it was greeted by a crowd and
auctioned off the wood it had cleared, with the first
cord commanding $10.17 Snag Boat Dallas was
intended to assure a clear passage on the Trinity for
the next purchase of the Trinity River Navigation
Company, a 113-foot steamboat named the H. A.
Harvey. The Harvey, less than a year old, had been
used to clean out obstructions in the Mermenteau
River in Louisiana; it headed for Galveston in
March 1893, with Dallas as its ultimate destination.
Before the Harvey could get to Dallas,
however, Snag Boat Dallas spent weeks clearing
the river, particularly a 20-mile long accumulation
of snags at Bois D'Arc Island in the southeast corer
of Dallas County. Captain Wherry wrote, "We are
now nearing the end of this sort of river. As it 'took
ever since the creation for the obstructions to accumulate
here, it is fair to presume that a generation
will never have the work to do over again. The river
at its worst point and lowest stage measures a body
of water 25 feet wide and 2 1/2 feet deep with a flow
of 5 1/2 miles per hour and deep water above and
Meanwhile, excitement was building as
the Harvey made its way through the more navigable
southern half of the Trinity toward Dallas.
Travel became more difficult as the Harvey pushed
north, with reports of her crew clearing snags and
overhanging timber. The steamboat passed through
Porter's Bluff, ninety miles by river from Dallas, on
April 21, 1893.19 The Harvey and Snag Boat Dallas
met just above the southern border of Dallas County
on May 5, but a week later the Harvey was only a few
miles closer to Dallas thanks to high water which
prevented her passing under the county bridge on
Dowdy's Ferry Road. This delay created a perfect
opportunity for people to visit, and crowds turned
out. Several women brought presents of buttermilk
to the captain, who confessed to a weakness for it.
After a decision was made to remove the center
section of the bridge, the Harvey, led by Snag Boat
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Dallas County Heritage Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 3, Number 1, Spring, 1991, periodical, 1991; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35118/m1/9/?q=trinity%20river%20bridge%201800s: accessed February 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.