The Bosque River is rightly celebrated in song and story. Of the shorter West Texas waterways, it’s among the most charismatic. We followed it backwards — from mouth to source — but that method afforded some fresh insights.

Mouth of the Bosque River as it enters the Brazos near Waco.

The Bosque enters the Brazos through a wide canyon in West Waco. Actually, both rivers form a flow-through lake here and the city has made the most of this gorgeous stretch of green and blue. We’d visited the parks high on the south banks of the Brazos on a previous trip. This  morning, we walked the northern shores, less dramatic but equally well maintained by the city. We could document the Bosque flowing in from the southwest.

Lake Waco on the Bosque River.

Next, we cut across the west side of Waco — its hillier, tonier side — to Lake Waco, formed by the Bosque and some other streams. On this very chilly morning, we noted its wide expanses from another park, this one inexplicably closed. (We walked in.) We swung around another Waco district to cross the lake on a high, straight bridge.

Bosque River, clearly post-flood, near Valley Mills, TX.

We next picked up the Bosque in the fair town of Valley Mills, promising to  find out about the nominal mills at a later date. It’s here that Austin educator and civil rights pioneer Bertha Sadler Means spent her earliest years in a freedman’s community settled by her grandfather. Here the sandy river look ravaged by a recent flood.

A weir on the Bosque River in Clifton, TX, “Norwegian Capital of Texas.”

Up next was Clifton. Here we headed to a tiny municipal park where the Bosque is held up by a substantial weir. Clearly there had been some heavy flooding, but the weir held and the waterfall led to a calm spot with birds, fish and lower water levels. We were not done with this hill town. We headed to the Bosque Museum, which appeared to be closed. Yet an eager docent showed us their Horn Shelter Exhibit — devoted to an archeological dig near Lake Whitney — which uncovered evidence of Paleo-Indians. Oddly, a reconstruction of a buried man’s bust looked to have European features and his eyes were shaded blue. Hmm.

Clifton is the “Norwegian Capital of Texas,” so we asked about its settlement. As we guessed, one Scandinavian found his way here; it reminded him of Norway and he recruited his countryman to journey to this lovely, but hardly Norwegian valley.

In county seat of Meridian, we found another spacious park along the tree-lined Bosque. Here, the banks are high and flow strong.  We had originally planned to hike Meridian State Park — many of those plans changed according to circumstances on this trip — but we instead headed to the towering courthouse, then hit the backroads to reach our next river, stopping off first in Hico where the North Bosque becomes a real river.