Brazos River Levee: The Little Levee That Couldn't But Then Got Its Act Together and Could


 

This historical marker is located on HWY 50 just off 21 near Whiskey Bridge (which deserves its own post at some point). A part of the earthen levee is barely visible today just behind the marker. We had to have our friend, who is a graduate student studying ancient flood plains, point it out to us. It honestly just looks a small oblong hill.

To say that the Brazos River was destructive is kind of an understatement. The river moved so frequently that some enslaved residents noted that they tracked the years based on where the river was; in some years it would be on one side of their house and then in other years be on the other side (Slave Narrative Project Vol. 16 of the WPA Federal Writers Project). But, this flooding and movement made for a really fertile flood plain. Hence all the plantations. Woof. (Did you know that the Brazos Valley produced a huge amount of the nation's cotton prior to the Civil War? WE didn't. We know that now, so now you know that too.)

According to the sign, in 1909 the residents of Brazos County had finally had it up to here with the Brazos River and decided to make it more stable. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned when Mother Nature decided to unleash her watery fury. The "levee trapped water and then broke, unleashing a wall of destruction from which there was no escape. Victims rode out the flood on roofs and treetops. There were 180 deaths and $8 million in property damage...". But apparently the residents were not deterred by this incredibly unlucky (but perhaps predictable?) event and decided to rebuild the levee that had just devastated their community. Luckily, this time it was the right gamble, and the new levee helped control some of the flooding along the Brazos. Nowadays, the river stays put, evidenced by the deep riverbed that it continues to cut through the valley. Residents no longer need to worry about losing their homes during the flood every year, and we no longer track time based on the movements of the mighty Brazos River.

#HistoricalMarker #Texas #BrazosRiver #River #BrazosCounty #Levee #TexasHistory #Flooding

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