The Brazos River Expedition of June 2, 2001:
Maxwell Crossing

Well, it's a safe bet she didn't die of thirst: a cow carcass lies next to the river on the sandbar at Maxwell Crossing.


On May 27, 2001, I accompanied a friend and her family to the Brazos River at Dennis, Texas, for an afternoon of swimming and sunning on the big sandbar just upstream from the bridge.

After an hour of splashing about in the cool, deep green water at the sandbar, I grew restless and bored. I took leave of the group and headed upstream, not really wanting to go anywhere in particular, but just to scout for anything unusual.

About three-quarters of a mile upstream I arrived at Maxwell Crossing, where a mostly-dry smaller stream enters the river. The creek looked relatively accessible and inviting, the bed about a good foot above the river level and composed of smooth sand. Most of the creeks flowing into the river were not much more than narrow, deep-cut little washes, usually choked with fallen trees and debris. The creekbed here was about twelve feet wide and unobstructed, at least for about the first hundred feet back from the river.

I walked about ten feet and recognized the unmistakable signs of quicksand—the sandy bed shifted and wobbled under my weight, and pretty soon I was in shallow stuff maybe eight inches deep. I criss-crossed back and forth, testing here and there, seeing where it appeared softest. It was pretty soft in many places, but didn't seem to be much deeper than about eight to ten inches anywhere (might have been deeper had I helped the process, but I don't like to do that).

The creekbed here is cut down pretty deeply from the surrounding high ground, forming a "mini-canyon" whose walls were about ten to twelve feet high. Once you were back a few feet from the creek's mouth, you were pretty much out of sight of anybody.

Following the creek back from the river, about a hundred feet in, the bed narrowed and curved around a large bush/small tree, which sort of formed an arch over my path. I ducked a bit and went through the arch, noticing that the creekbed was still waterlogged and "quick," even this far back.

The creek on the other side presented a forbidding, sinister face. Large trees and brush clogged the way just about forty feet ahead...perfect snake country. It looked like I wouldn't be going much further. However, much to my delight the area immediately around me was loose, goopy and in a couple of places I easily sank to my knees. The built-up creek bed here was quicksand pretty much everywhere, and had accumulated deeper than I usually saw in the river. I thought to myself that this could make a pretty good film location, if you needed someplace very creepy-looking with actual quicksand. I determined that I would be coming back here from time to time to check Maxwell Creek, to see how it responded to varying water conditions.



The quicksand had this very unusual, somewhat thick dry layer on top of it, from which grew tiny plants. Once you broke this surface and got it stirred up a bit, the texture and consistency was very much like a sort of gritty pudding (although it didn't smell or taste like pudding)!

Here I am trying to extract a leg, while snapping a picture. I was by myself, and found it very hard to use the camera while I was stumbling and floundering about in the softer spots.


Map of this expedition

On to the next expedition