From its origins on a sandy hillside in Van Zandt County, the Neches River flows through the heart of East Texas. In its watershed lies some of the wildest country in Texas, tucked amid the remains of one of the finest hardwood forests in the world.
With the goal of keeping the Neches flowing free, East Texas native and riverman Richard M. Donovan takes readers canoeing down a two-hundred-mile stretch of the upper Neches. Through two national forests and mile after mile of remote river woodlands, he chronicles the river’s natural and cultural history, describes its animal inhabitants, recounts stories of early settlers and East Texas hunting traditions, and calls attention to the recreational potential of the river for paddlers and others, whether residents or visitors.
Donovan also makes a case against damming the river. He convincingly promotes the idea of turning the Neches into a National Wild and Scenic River, preserving forever the river’s natural flow and what remains of the verdant bottomlands of this historic watercourse.
What Readers Are Saying:
“I found myself engrossed in this narrative, which weaves a river journey with brief passages of local and regional history and personal reminiscence.”--Dr. Pete A. Y. Gunter
“I found myself engrossed in this narrative, which weaves a river journey with brief passages of local and regional history and personal reminiscence.” --Dr. Pete A. Y. Gunter
“Richard Donovan’s Paddling the Wild Neches does for the river and East Texas what John Graves’ book, Goodbye to a River, did for the Brazos River and West Texas. Considering the esteem and reverence many (including myself) hold for John Graves, that is a bold statement. Richard’s obvious passion and clear prose is up to the task. The narrative mix of his observations as he travels down the river, his stories of peoples’ binding dependence upon the river, and his genial but fiercely held convictions about how it all relates—past, present, and future—make a compelling read. I read half the book before I could set it down. Graves, and now Donovan have put within the grasp of us all an appreciation for our state’s connection with its rivers, both emotional and historic, and why damming these rivers would be such a loss.” --Dr. Larry McKinney, Senior Director of Aquatic Resources, Texas Parks and Wil
“Paddling the Wild Neches is one of those great treasures that delivers far more than it promises. Not only is it the personal story of one man’s journey on a scenic river and a compelling case for that river’s protection, but it is a fascinating account of the history and people of East Texas and a fine collection of stories that bring those people to life. Paddling the Wild Neches is not just about preserving a river; it’s about preserving a history and a way of life.” --Ken Kramer, Director, Lone Star Chapter, Sierra Club
“An adventure to read. One can take this grand and beautiful canoe trip down the Neches River without the discomfort of cold weather, mosquito bites, sand in a sleeping bag, mud on feet, and other natural conditions of a float trip. Additionally, writer Richard Donovan fills the rest stops with personal and historical anecdotes of people and happenings on the Neches back through time. Paddling is a good read throughout!” --East Texas Historical Journal