By Patrick Dearen
Along a lot of its Texas stretch at the present time, the Pecos is barely a polluted trickle, squeezing via a jungle of salt cedars that choke banks sloughed and overlooked. the trendy motorist crossing it by means of bridge is likely to greet it with a yawn than with visceral emotion. yet have been he to learn the historical past buried deep in its banks, he might locate the sweat and blood of cowhands who knew this ghost because the such a lot ambitious and treacherous river within the West.
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Additional resources for A cowboy of the Pecos
C. Whiting in 1849,7 the trail bore west from San Antonio, skirted the site of present Del Rio, and turned north up the Devil's River, which coursed through a rugged desert fit for no one but its namesake. From the river's head, the trail veered northwest to a vital water sourceHoward's Wells or Springsand on over an arid plateau that suddenly dropped five hundred feet into the valley of the Pecos. Four miles past the site of later Fort Lancaster, the trail struck the Pecos at Lancaster Crossing, adjacent to modern Sheffield.
Courtesy, Southeastern New Mexico Historical Society, Carlsbad, New Mexico) Page 5 miles between the New Mexico line and the Rio Grande, a cowboy could cross the Pecos only at a handful of sitesprimarily, Pope's Crossing, one crow-flight mile south of New Mexico; Emigrant Crossing, fifty-nine miles on downstream; Horsehead Crossing, Spanish Dam Crossing, and Pontoon Bridge in the mid-Texas stretch; and Lancaster Crossing, sixty-five miles above the river's mouth. 19 Seldom less than half-bank full, the Pecos was so turbid with red sediment that, said one cowboy, a bucket of its water would yield an inch of sand20a condition which led to the formation of quicksand below the unscalable walls.
S. Army shunned it, and would do so for another year before reoccupying Fort Stockton. As a cattle trail, the route came to be known to historians as the Goodnight or Goodnight-Loving, although it is Page 34 unlikely that drovers of the day knew it by that name or any other. Terms for landmarks along it, however, were recognizable far and wide. From Fort Belknap on the Brazos, the trail bore southwest, striking the abandoned military posts of Camp Cooper and Fort Phantom Hill, cutting through forested Buffalo Gap, and pressing on past empty Fort Chadbourne.
A cowboy of the Pecos by Patrick Dearen