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A Historical Look at the San Bernard (Conclusion)
Posted on Mar 13th, 2011

This is the conclusion of the letter from Part Three by Assistant Engineer, S.M. Wilcox, Corps of Engineers, about his survey of the San Bernard River in 1899:
…In order to improve the mouth of the San Bernard River it will be necessary to build parallel jetties extending to 12 feet of water in the Gulf of Mexico, a single distance of about 2,300 feet, dredge through one bend, about 1 mile above the mouth , and a small amount of dredging at the river’s mouth; also clearing away such overhanging timber as may be necessary for clear passage of vessels.
The cost of this improvement will be as follows:
To build 2 parallel jetties, allowing a channel width of 200 feet between them, single length, 2,200 linear feet, depth of water from 0 to 12 feet, average depth of 6 feet...$293,037.50
This improvement would be more or less local in its benefits and would need repairs, the cost of which would be governed by the weather conditions, probably running not under $4,000 per annum. The local character of the improvement and the amount of money necessary to obtain results leads me to advance the following scheme, which would not only improve the San Bernard River, but would open up the whole country from the Brazos River to Caney Creek, east and west of the San Bernard River back from the Gulf Coast…there is a natural depression, parallel to the Gulf shore and from one-half to 1 mile back from it, following the chain of lakes, slough, and marshes, with hardly a break, clear to the eastern extremity of Matagorda Bay, giving an ideal line for a light-draft inland waterway, which, in connection with the proposed improvement of Oyster Creek, would give an un unbroken channel from Galveston on the east to Port Lavaca and Matagorda on the west…
Post Script to the Story
From the “History of the Gulf Intracostal Waterway (GICA)”
The spirit of the Texas frontier prevailed on the San Bernard River for some time after completion of the tributary channel. Occasionally, towboats moving too quickly or carelessly along the channel would scrape the banks with the barges they pulled. Viewing this as a threat to their property, individual property owners along the channel resorted to stationing themselves on the banks, armed with rifles, to keep the towboat captains in line. Several incidents occurred in which the irate landowners literally took potshots at the recalcitrant navigators.
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