In 1955, Frank X. Tolbert, a well-known columnist for the Dallas Morning News, circumnavigated Texas with his nine-year-old-son in a Willis Jeep. The column he phoned in to the newspaper about his adventures, "Tolbert's Texas," was a staple of Walt Davis's childhood. Fifty years later, Walt and his wife, Isabel, have re-explored portions of Tolbert’s trek along the boundaries of Texas.
The border of Texas is longer than the Amazon River, running through ten distinct ecological zones as it outlines one of the most familiar shapes in geography. According to the Davises, "Driving its every twist and turn would be like driving from Miami to Los Angeles by way of New York."
Each of this book’s sixteen chapters opens with an original drawing by Walt, representing a segment of the Texas border where the authors selected a special place—a national park, a stretch of river, a mountain range, or an archeological site. Using a firsthand account of that place written by a previous visitor (artist, explorer, naturalist, or archeologist), they then identified a contemporary voice (whether biologist, rancher, river-runner, or paleontologist) to serve as a modern-day guide for their journey of rediscovery. This dual perspective allows the authors to attach personal stories to the places they visited, to connect the past with the present, and to compare Texas then with Texas now.
Whether retracing botanist Charles Wright's 600-mile walk to El Paso in 1849 or paddling Houston's Buffalo Bayou, where John James Audubon saw ivory-billed woodpeckers in 1837, the Davises seek to remind readers that passionate and determined people wrote the state's natural history. Anyone interested in Texas or its rich natural heritage will find deep enjoyment in Exploring the Edges of Texas.
Publication of this book is generously supported by a memorial gift in honor of Mary Frances "Chan" Driscoll, a founding member of the Advisory Council of Texas A&M University Press, by her sons Henry B. Paup '70 and T. Edgar Paup '74.
What Readers Are Saying:
"Texas has a rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage. Its original explorers, settlers and defenders were brave, resourceful and colorful. As you might expect if you think about it, not all of Texas' rich history happened in the center of the state; some of the best and most interesting took place along its edges. Thus, Walter and Isabel Davis undertook to explore the edges of the state to learn if the sites of certain natural or historical events could still be found, and if so what stories might reveal themselves. They have done a masterful job. Exploring the Edges of Texas is most readable and thoroughly enjoyable. Its stories will inspire you to visit the Texas borderlands and search for your own stories; it did me."-Mike Berger, retired Wildlife Division Director, Texas Parks & Wildlife Department
“Walt and Isabel Davis bring decades of experience in natural history and love of Texas to this delightfully written account of the escapades along its edges. It is history and travel writing at its best and suggests many weekend trips that you will want to take. Be sure to take this book along with you.”—Ron Tyler, Amon Carter Museum
"Whether you are a multi-generational Texan or a one-time visitor to the state, this is a book worth reading. It will help you see Texas with deeply informed and appreciative eyes."--Robert McCracken Peck, The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia
"Their entertaining, enlightening book reflects their considerable skills as they explored historical, and sometimes still controversial, sites along the Texas borders. . . they have created a wealth of fresh observations about the rich cultural and natural histories of Texas' border areas. . . will inspire others to explore the state's lengthy edges, as well as its vast interior." - Si Dunn, Fort Worth Star Telegram
". . . the book is not only informative but a pleasure to read." — Joann Karges, Texas Christian University Library, Journal of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas
"The result is much more than a simple travel journal; it is also an experience in rediscovering history. . . it is an enjoyable history lesson as well. . . Readers of Exploring the Edges of Texas gain from the authors' dedicated research, love of travel and willingness to exert energy on the ground rather than just staring at a computer screen." — Chuck Parsons, Wild West History Association
"Their book has been published by Texas A&M Press. It is called Exploring the Edges of Texas and it is one of the best books about Texas I have read in a long time."
"Walt and Isabel Davis are both fine teachers and they know how to arouse the curiosity of 4readers. Each chapter of this book is a detective story, built around a quest for something.
"Exploring the Edges of Texas is a book that will appeal to anyone who is curious about the world around us-and that should include all of us. Buy this book now!"
"It's an intersting story about the three-way trade system between the Kichai Indians, the Comanches and the French. It's just a great story."--Patti Hamilton, interim dean of the College of Health Sciences & Human Services at MSU, sister of Walt Davis
“Texans will love reading their history; naturalists will lament the changes but appreciate the sensitive documentation of their efforts, and museum professionals who have lived this evolution seen throughout these pages will be inspired to perhaps write their own institution’s story.”—Ellie Caston, Senior Lecturer, Department of Museum Studies, Baylor University