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Rand McNally & Co.

1882 Railroad and County Map of Texas

© David Rumsey Historical Map Collection

I don't mean the whole Brazos, but a piece of it that has had meaning for me during a good part of my life in the way that pieces of rivers can have meaning. You can comprehend a piece of a river.

John Graves
Goodbye to a River

The Brazos River
Rio de los Brazos de Dios

This section of the 1882 Railroad and County Map of Texas shown at the top of this page shows the “upper middle Brazos” as its flows east past Fort Griffith on the Clear Fork and Belknap in Young County, Palo Pinto and Granbury, over a half century before dams were built on the Brazos, as lamented by John Graves in Goodbye to a River.

The fork of the river continues east past the Double Mountain a few miles joining with the Salt Fork of the Brazos and forming the Brazos River. The Clear Fork enters the Brazos River further east near Fort Griffin and Albany in Shackelford County.

The Brazos continues on its way past Fort Belknap to Possom Kingdom Lake, which compounds the river in the Palo Pinto Mountains. Fort Griffin (1867) and Fort Belknap (1851) were built to protect the frontier from the Comanches. Below Possom Kingdom, the river continues through high hills and tablelands carved by the Brazos and on to Lake Granbury and Lake Whitney.

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View from the river bed of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River

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Randy Bacon

Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos (near Rotan)

John Graves in his classic book Goodbye to a River calls this portion of the river the “upper-middle Brazos.” This small area of the American West became the cauldron for the frontier conflicts of Indians, homesteaders, cattlemen, buffalo hunters, and the U. S. Cavalry, all widely celebrated in books, movies, art, and poetry.

John Ford’s and John Wayne’s classic movie The Searchers and Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove (and the miniseries with Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duval) tell stories about the Texas frontier along the Brazos. These books and movies have defined the American Southwest in the eyes of millions of readers and viewers all over the world.

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View of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River

Color variations in the soil along the river bed of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River

Wildlife tracks on the river bed of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River

Clear, shallow waters along the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River

Cattails along the river bed of the Double Mountain Fork of the Brazos River