The Blanco River
Natural History - Literary Non-Fiction
9 x 10, 184 pp.
61 color photos. Map. Index.
Pub Date: 02/22/2017
River Books, Sponsored by The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas State University
  flexbound (with flaps)
Price:        $24.95

978-1-62349-510-7

Published by Texas A&M University Press

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The Blanco River

Wes Ferguson
Photography by Jacob Croft Botter
Foreword by Andrew Sansom

For eighty-seven miles, the swift and shallow Blanco River winds through the Texas Hill Country. Its water is clear and green, darkened by frequent pools. But Spanish explorers named it the White River for the pale limestone they encountered along its banks and dramatic bluffs. Over the last two years, Wes Ferguson and Jacob Botter have paddled, walked, and waded the Blanco. They have explored its history, people, wildlife, and the natural beauty that surprises everyone who experiences this river.

Described as “the defining element in some of the Hill Country’s most beautiful scenery,” the Blanco flows both above and below ground, part of a network of rivers and aquifers that sustains the region’s wildlife and millions of humans alike. However, overpumping and prolonged drought have combined to weaken the Blanco’s flow and sustenance, and in 2000—for the first time in recorded history—the river’s most significant feeder spring, Jacob’s Well, briefly ceased to flow. It stopped again in 2008. Then, in the spring of 2015, a devastating flood killed twelve people and toppled the huge cypress trees along its banks, altering not just the look of the river, but the communities that had come to depend on its serene presence.

River travelers Ferguson and Botter tell the remarkable story of this changeable river, confronting challenges and dangers as well as rare opportunities to see parts of the river few have seen. The authors also photographed and recorded the human response to the destruction of a beloved natural resource that has become yet another episode in the story of water in Texas.

WES FERGUSON is a journalist and freelance writer whose work has been published by Texas Monthly, Texas Observer, Texas Co-op Power, and Longview News-Journal as well as other newspapers. He is the author of Running the River: Secrets of the Sabine. JACOB CROFT BOTTER is an award-winning photographer and photography teacher. He has worked as a photojournalist for the Longview News-Journal and is the photographer for Running the River: Secrets of the Sabine.

What Readers Are Saying:

"In this sparkling, crisply written book, Wes Ferguson reveals how this quiet jewel of Hill Country rivers can evoke such jealous passions — and ultimately summon such destructive power."— Steven L. Davis, President, Texas Institute of Letters

"A trustworthy guide into the rich and hidden history of the Blanco and a reminder of its sudden, destructive power. A captivating, necessary read for anyone who values this Texas treasure." —Bryan Mealer, bestselling author of Muck City and The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.

“Wes Ferguson tells the story of Texas’s secret river, the Blanco, examining its past while providing a vivid picture of the river and the people around it in the here-and-now that speaks to the larger issues of public access to Texas waterways and private property rights. After traveling around the state for more than a decade writing for Texas Monthly magazine, I chose to reside and raise my family near the Blanco. It’s good thing Ferguson did not write about my favorite swimming hole on the river; otherwise, I would have to shoot him.”— Joe Nick Patoski, author of Generations on the Land: A Conservation Legacy
 

"Research and reporting can combine to create a kind of sublime poetry when in the hands of the right author. Wes Ferguson proves himself to be just such an author with his engaging Blanco River.  The Blanco is relatively short as rivers go, just eighty-seven miles. But its story is huge as it emerges from Ferguson's book. He understands rivers; he understands this river. Complemented by Jacob Croft Botter's photography, Blanco River will affect how you think about this river in particular and rivers in general. It's a captivating read." — W.K. Stratton,author, Chasing the RodeoBoxing Shadows, Floyd Patterson, and Ranchero Ford/Dying in Red Dirt Country 
 

"The Blanco River is the spiritual bloodstream of my adult life, so I cracked this book open with some trepidation. I tried in vain to read chronologically, from one end of the river to the other, as Wes Ferguson so wisely arranges it. I couldn’t resist jumping to “my” section of the river around Wimberley, where I fell in love, married on its banks, taught my kids to swim, and fought for the very water that flows between those heartbreakingly flood-ravaged banks. The journalistic style of The Blanco River allows Ferguson’s articulate narrators to provide fascinating historical and ecological details sure to enhance any stolen moments we spend floating down those clear, green waters. Even cranky old John Graves would surely be pleased to see Ferguson drifting gracefully from the silent wonder of the Guadalupe bass to the cacophony of Capitol politics, from floating daydreams to flooding nightmares, from the observations of Spanish explorers to the musings of those who inhabit the river's increasingly modern towns. The Blanco Riverwill stay in that short stack on my nightstand for months to come." — Louie Bond, Editor, Texas Parks & Wildlife Magazine

"With this book, author and artist uniquely combine a sense of history, an eye for beauty and a narrative eloquence — all into a vibrant portrait of water and people and their eternally complex relationship." — Roy Flukinger, senior research curator of photography for the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin
 

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