The Brazos River is the 11th longest river in the United States and the longest in Texas. It starts at Blackwater Draw in New Mexico and winds 1,280 miles to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico. One of its most famous stretches is around Waco. Here are a few facts you might not know.
Its Full Spanish Name
Spanish explorers originally called the river “Rio de los Brazos de Dios” which means, “River of theArms of God.” It was sometimes confused with the Colorado River when described by early explorers, so no one really knows when it was first named. Some claim early explorers were nearly dead from thirst when they stumbled upon its banks and named it so because it was a life-saving blessing.
Its Importance to Navigation
Now mostly recreational boats sail the Brazos, but in the days before the Civil War, it was traveled by much larger ships. Steamboats sailed up it to bring goods from the sea. The Texas Navy ship Independence fought in the river during the Texas Revolution and was defeated by a Mexican ship. However, sailing on the Brazos was unpredictable, since the river was prone to flooding. As railroads became more reliable after the Civil War, goods were easier to ship by rail than to float up the river by ship.
Its Untamable Spirit
In the early 1900s, builders tried several times to build locks and dams along the Brazos. The river kept shifting and often washed away construction sites. Tornados and flooding along its banks caused property damage and flood waters inundated the Waco area. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers finally studied the river and built a series of dams to control flooding.
Its Recreation Possibilities
Canoeing is popular along the Brazos, as are fishing and picnicking. One of the best ways to see the Brazos River is through Waco River Safari’s Scenic History Tour. The cruise takes patrons on a two-hour journey filled with stories of how the river shaped Waco and the surrounding area. Contact us today to book a trip.