The Austin Dam Disaster of 1900
I am so pleased and excited to announce that my new book, The Austin Dam Disaster of 1900, is now available!
Part of the Images of America series from Arcadia Publishing, this book tells one of the great forgotten stories of Austin history–how a little town of 15,000 people built the largest dam ever constructed in the 19th century, anywhere in the world. It’s a story about dreams, and hubris, and Central Texas weather. Most of the research was conducted at the Austin History Center, and the book contains dozens of historic photos from the Austin History Center, the Lower Colorado River Authority, the Texas State Archives, and the Briscoe Center for American History, among others.
As a lifelong Austinite, I grew up in a city still celebrating the taming of the Colorado by the Highland Lakes dams. Aquafest attracted thousands each summer to celebrate the existence of Town Lake. A few years back, I learned that Red Bud Isle, now a beloved dog park, was formed from the wreckage of the old Austin dam. As I delved into the subject matter, I discovered that the Austin dam disaster of 1900 not only illuminated the journey of Austin from dusty frontier capital to modern-day tech magnet–it embodied the ambition and hubris that even then characterized the city.
I’ve always been fascinated by our unique weather, and the drama of the dam’s failure is the centerpiece of this story. I’ve learned over the years that people really do love to discover their own history. This was something I had never heard of, and it has so many fascinating aspects–politics, engineering, geology, disaster, and the sheer grit it took for our city to come back from a catastrophe that was as much self-inflicted as it was an act of God.
In 2016 I learned that Arcadia Publishing was looking to add some more Texas titles and I approached them with the idea of this book. The City of Austin and the Austin History Center gave permission to use their material, which makes up the majority of the images, and we are grateful for their generosity.
I hope you will enjoy this book as much as I did putting it together. The Austin Dam Disaster of 1900 is available on Amazon, directly from Arcadia Publishing, and at your favorite Austin bookstores and gift shops.
I would love to see you at any of my upcoming “book tour” events! I am actively seeking more local speaking engagements. Contact me to speak to your group.
Where I’m Speaking Next
Bullock Texas State History Museum
Wednesday, January 2, 2019 at 12:00PM
Start the new year off right with a casual lunchtime lecture at one of my favorite Austin places–the Texas State History Museum!
The Bullock Texas State History Museum is located at 1800 Congress Avenue, Austin, TX 78701.