The Sulphur River Bottomland
Historic Northeast Texas




Here are two photos of the wreckage of a 19th-century ferry that was recently discovered in the Sulphur River Bottom. The exact location of this discovery will not be disclosed until after aquatic archaeologists from Texas A&M University have successfully retrieved it and taken it away for restoration and preservation. I have additional photos which can be uploaded later if necessary. Suffice it to say that the discovery of this ferry gives us opponents of the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir yet another valid historical reason not to build it. In my father's books about this area, he wrote extensively about the Sulphur River ferries. Now we have an actual artifact that can be moved to a museum. And there is no telling what else is submerged beneath the Sulphur River. This ferry became visible last month, when the river dried up a bit and fell below its normal depth. Also, the endangered black bears have begun to return to the Sulphur River Bottom after a long absence, during which time they were thought to be extinct in NE Texas. They had left here and moved into the Kiamichi and Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma and Arkansas, when they were declared an endangered national species. But apparently within the last few months, they have begun returning to NE Texas, with the implication that this "new" habitat will also be added to the national list of areas where they are endangered animal species. Editor Hudson Old wrote a wonderful article about the return of the black bears to NE Texas in the November edition of his East Texas Journal. These new developments simply pound two more nails into the Marvin Nichols Reservoir coffin and give us local opponents great comfort in knowing that this abominable lake will never be built. When information becomes available about the fate of the black bears and the ultimate museum location of the ferry, I'll be sure to append it here. Incidentally, about 120 years ago, my paternal grandmother, when she was a young girl, was walking home from school along the Daingerfield Highway and got chased down the road to her house by a black bear. She told that story many times. That black bear scared the hell out of her, but as she grew older, she thought that the whole episode was most humorous.

2009 Update

Regarding the ferry photos above, neither Texas A&M University nor the Texas State Historical Commission have come to excavate this ferry. The ostensible reason is that the damage caused by last year's Hurricane Ike to the Gulf Coast has consumed all of their budget for the year. However, there are "rumors" that Governor Rick Perry, an avid supporter of the Marvin Nichols Reservoir, has forbidden the use of state funds to excavate this ferry out of fear that the actual discovery of a genuine artifact of this nature would sidetrack the reservoir construction because it would symbolize just how valuable the archeology and ecology of the river bottom may be, eventually permanently killing the reservoir. At any rate, this ferry used to be completely underwater, which is how it had remained preserved for a hundred years. The fear now is that the exposed portion, above water for the last 12 months, will soon start to rot. At the moment, however, there is nothing that anyone can do about this, and it is most unfortunate.

In other news for 2009, in November a man named Ken Stewart from Plano contacted me, saying that he is a private pilot and recently flew out over the Sulphur River Bottom to make videos in support of the opposition to the Marvin Nichols Reservoir. He has uploaded both his short videos to YouTube, and you can click below to watch them. Mr. Stewart is planning to fly over to Mount Pleasant next spring so that both of us can fly out over the bottomland, allowing me to make an additional video with my own digital camera. Thank you kindly again, Mr. Stewart!

Finally, in the Texarkana Gazette for Thanksgiving Day, 26 November 2009, there was a special section devoted to news and commentary on the Marvin Nichols Reservoir. I have transcribed all of these articles and placed them at a new index page here at this website.
CLICK HERE to view the contents of these articles.

2007 Update

Senate Bill 3 Enacted By Texas Legislature
28 May 2007

On Monday, 28 May 2007, the Texas House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 3, which was the comprehensive statewide water plan proposed by the Texas Water Development Board. CLICK HERE for more information, and this is a long essay. Senator Kevin Eltife of Tyler was able to get through an amendment to SB 3, providing for an independent study commission to explore the feasibility of constructing the Marvin Nichols Reservoir in comparison with alternative sources of water, such as Lake Texoma and Toledo Bend Reservoir. Members of this commission will consist of 3 people from both Region C and Region D Water Planning Groups. These members will be appointed later this year. They have to report back to the Governor and the Legislature in time for the 2011 legislative session. Thus, we are "stalled" for about 4 years toward any final decision as to whether to proceed with construction of Marvin Nichols. So unless there is some major unforeseen development regarding Marvin Nichols, this website will probably remain exactly as it is for quite some time into the future. As you can see below, I have not updated it since May 2005. Except for this notice and the information referenced above, I am not planning to modify anything else, leaving it as it was when I wrote the 2005 Update that follows.

IMPORTANT NOTICE! When I first created this website in 2002, my email addresses were different. When you click to Email Me at the bottom of any of these pages, your inquiry will fail because those routing addresses are no longer valid. It would be simply too time-consuming to go through every page at this website and correct these addresses. However, at the bottom of this main Weldome Page, you'll see a place where you can email me if there is a problem with the site or if you have an inquiry. This address is correct and current. So, if you are reading at some page and need to inquire about it, return to this main page and send your email from here only. My apology for this inconvenience. Thanks. Roberto

2005 Update

We can all finally breathe a sigh of relief. On 18 May 2005 the Region D Water Planning Group voted for their latest five-year water plan, which will be submitted to the Texas Water Development Board late in the year. This new water plan deliberately does not include a recommendation for the construction of the Marvin Nichols or George Parkhouse Reservoirs. This was a temporary victory in 2002, but a complete victory in 2005. It will be next to impossible ever to resurrect the ideas of constructing the Marvin Nichols and George Parkhouse Reservoirs. However, a formal "public discussion" of the water plan is scheduled for 7 PM on Tuesday, 2 August 2005, at the Upshur County Civic Center in Gilmer (nextdoor to Wal-Mart on Hwy. 271 North). You are urged to attend and express your opinion. Following that, there will be an additional 60-day period for public mail to arrive on the plan, and the final vote will probably be taken at the regular Region D meeting on the third Wednesday in October 2005 at the Agricultural Extension Office in Mount Pleasant (on Industrial Road near Interstate 30).

This website will remain as an archive of past events. As I have noted at the end of the 2004 Archive, I am working on books. Thus, my time is limited; and I do not plan to update this website with future information beyond today, unless something terribly unexpected happens. There is a newer website with more current information. It is and is the work of Janice Bezanson, Executive Director of the Texas Committee On Natural Resources. Click here to email Janice.

Also it must be noted here that the former SeRBiA President Judy Lee of Mount Pleasant has been replaced by a woman named Pat Wommack from Lone Star. Richard Goodman was reappointed to the board. Executive Director Mike Burke's contract comes up for renewal in August, and he may not be rehired. Time will tell, but Mike Burke, like Judy Lee, is a leftover relic of the Mike Huddleston/Bill Ratliff period of undying support for these reservoirs. Guaranty Bond Bank President Ty Abston of Mount Pleasant appeared before the SRBA Monthly Meeting on 17 May 2005, when Jim Thompson was elected President to replace Judy Lee. Ty "Hit & Run" Abston's pleas for destroying timberlands in favor of needless reservoirs fell on deaf ears. It was the lake-promoters' "last gasp", so to speak.

Max Shumake of De Kalb, Texas, who is the de facto leader of our opposition group, would certainly join me in thanking all of you for your time and help over the past four years. We seem to have succeeded against all odds. And I must agree with Region D board-member Richard LeTourneau when he said that countless people have spent thousands of hours of their time in opposition to these reservoirs, and now "it is time to move on". Hear, Hear! Yes indeed, it is time to move on!

If any of the internal links fail to work after all this time, then they are probably gone forever. However, there is enough information at this website alone to preserve the early flow of these events. I shall not modify or edit any of my previous comments. As George Frost stated at the recent Region D meeting, Marvin Nichols used to be an emotional issue, but now we have all had time to look at it objectively. So any "emotions" in my comments will simply reflect the frustration or elation of the event itself. None of us might necessarily still be so "emotional" about some of these issues. The remainder of this website is its original archive.

Once again,
thank you for your interest in preserving the Sulphur River Bottomland!

2003 Archive

2004 Archive

20 May 2004 Aerial Photographs
Sulphur River Basin

Northeast Texas Mushrooms

At the 2 December 2002 meeting of the Northeast Texas Region D Water Planning Group in Mount Pleasant, by a unanimous decision the water board voted to amend the Texas Water Plan, which was, in effect, a vote to kill the proposed Marvin Nichols Reservoir.

There are still lake supporters who would say that merely because the Texas Water Plan was amended to "downgrade" Marvin Nichols does not "necessarily" mean that the reservoir won't be built, that DFW Region C is threatening to build it anyway, no matter what our prevailing local public opinion may be. All I can say to that is this: just try it! There was no "opposition movement" to Marvin Nichols before New Boston educator Dr. Jane Morris happened by chance to attend the SeRBiA meeting in Mount Vernon on 19 June 2001 (see below). Although it seems like an eternity in retrospect, this entire lake issue came to a climax within less than 18 months after that "fateful" Mount Vernon meeting. Mainly due to the tireless efforts of Max Shumake, Shirley Shumake and Oran Caudle, organizing one small community after another, month after endless month, the local opposition grew from a handful of people in June 2001 to literally hundreds of people from all walks of life by December 2002. Nonetheless, we should remain ever vigilant in monitoring the activities of the various water boards. And they should be put on notice that any attempt to resurrect this Marvin Nichols Reservoir, or any other companion reservoir, will be met immediately by the rejuvenated full force of this opposition. If necessary, via our electronic database compiled over many months, we could notify and re-assemble a veritable "battalion" of opposition forces overnight.

CLICK HERE for news reports of the December 4 meeting.

Now that all of the latest news has been uploaded, this part of the website will become a sort of dormant archive of the events of 2001 and 2002. For news in 2003-2004, please click here. Regards, Roberto

To read the Legal Notice published concerning the
Click Here.

Over 150 Photographs Of The Sulphur River Basin
Photographs & Text by "Studio Robert"
Mount Pleasant, Texas

For 15 New Galleries - Autumn 2002 - CLICK HERE.

Texarkana Press Conference
2 August 2002
Congressman Max Sandlin & State Representatives
Barry Telford, Bob Glaze and Mark Homer
Joint Opposition to the Marvin Nichols Reservoir
(This page contains 7 images that must load.)

An Open Letter To The
By Robert Russell, 25 June 2002

Letter To Governor Rick Perry
By Robert Russell, 12 July 2002

"If you want to start a scrape around here,
try saying this cussword: Dallas."

Randy Lee Loftis, Environmental Writer

Senate Bill Number 5 (1985), Creating The
(in its entirety)

204 Major Lakes In 11 Counties


Recorded, 19 June 2001, Mount Vernon, Texas
Transcribed & Uploaded Here, 5 June 2002

Dateline Austin, 7 June 2002
Dateline Texarkana, 23 June 2002
(Why were Ratliff, Telford & Huddleston "unavailable for comment"?)

For photographs and text concerning 2002 public meetings,
Please be patient whilst any images load.

To read a "Damage Report" distributed at the May 15 meeting,


Judy Lee Replies To R.B. Palmer

Sulphur River Outlaw Cullen Montgomery Baker's "New Rebellion"


Sulphur River Sasquatch
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SulphurRiver.Net was officially launched on 24 May 2002.
Current Update: 7 December 2009
If you experience any sort of technical problem with this website,
please send me an email.
Thank you for your interest in preserving Sulphur River!
Roberto in "Mount Misery"

Click for Dallas, Texas Forecast