The Bosque River rises in four main branches, the North, East, Middle, and South Bosque rivers, at Lake Waco, on the northwest edge of Waco in central McLennan County (at 31°34' N, 97°12' W), and flows south for four miles to its mouth on the Brazos River, in Cameron Park in the city limits of Waco (at 31°35' N, 97°09' W). The North Bosque River, the longest branch of the river, rises in north central Erath County and cuts through Hamilton County into Bosque County, where it is joined by the East Bosque River, which rises in Erath County. From their confluence the North Bosque continues into central McLennan County, where it is joined by the South and Middle Bosque rivers as it flows into Lake Waco. The Bosque River flows through rolling hills where the dominant vegetation includes post oak and cedar. The upper branches, in Erath, Hamilton, and Bosque counties, are relatively narrow, free-flowing, and scenic, with clear water and heavily vegetated banks.
The word bosque is Spanish for "woods" or "woody lands," and, according to some accounts, the name was applied to the stream by the Marqués de San Miguel de Aguayo in 1719. Other authorities say that the river was named for a French trader, Juan Bosquet, who was living with the Tawakoni Indians in the 1770s. George B. Erath explored the river on an expedition in 1837, and the Texan Santa Fe expedition of 1841 crossed the area. Bones of Ice Age mammoths that lived 17,000 years ago have been located near the river's junction with the Brazos. Indians who lived along the river included Caddo, Tonkawa, Tawakoni, Towash, and Waco.
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An Analysis of Texas Waterways (Austin: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 1974).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed May 29, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 1, 1994