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About Us

Wes and Jake

Wes Ferguson is a journalist, freelance writer, and newspaper editor from Kilgore. His work has been published by the Texas Observer, Texas Co-op Power, Longview News-Journal, Hays Free Press, and other newspapers.

Jacob Croft Botter is an award-winning photographer and photography teacher. He has served as adjunct faculty at Louisiana State and Tulane Universities and worked as a photojournalist for the Longview News-Journal. He has exhibited at venues throughout Louisiana and Texas and is the co-founder of The Backyard Gallery in Baton Rouge.

Running the River
Secrets of the Sabine
By Wes Ferguson
Photography by Jacob Croft Botter
Foreword by Andrew Sansom
160 pages

Texas A&M University Press River Books Series sponsored by The Meadows Center for Water and the Environment, Texas State University.


Wes Ferguson
Author, Running the River: Secrets of the Sabine,

Texas A&M University Press
Sales: David Neel
Publicity: Holli Koster


Cypress trunk

“Under Ferguson’s wry humor and superb eye for detail the Sabine comes alive and takes on a personality all its own.” — Southwestern American Literature

“Anybody can love a lovely river, but to love the muddy, sluggish, dangerous, corrupted Sabine you have to first understand it. In this highly engaging tribute to an underdog river, Wes Ferguson proves that the places we might not think merit a second glance are the very places that reward our attention the most.” — Stephen Harrigan, author, The Eye of the Mammoth

“The Sabine River has been like an artery to my heart for many years, and I felt I knew it, but Wes Ferguson’s new book, which compares favorably to John Graves’s Goodbye to a River, is a shining example of travelogue, history, and a fine piece of Americana, and it taught me I know far less about the Sabine than I thought. I adored this book. It’s a good clean picture of a long, brown snake of a river. I heartily recommend it.” — Joe R. Lansdale, author, The Thicket

“In this rollicking narrative, Wes Ferguson profiles the hard scrabble souls drawn to the Sabine's haunted currents. Ferguson writes with sly humor and a generous heart, bringing this neglected corner of Texas to life.” — Steve Davis, author, J. Frank Dobie: A Liberated Mind and Texas Literary Outlaws

“How can you not continue reading?” — Texas Co-op Power Magazine

“Ferguson’s book is an evocative piece of writing and photography that reveals the richness of an unknown culture.” — Louisiana Life Magazine

“It’s about time the Sabine River got its due. Through Wes Ferguson's witty prose and Jacob Botter's terrific photos, readers will learn some history and meet many of the East Texas “river rats” the duo encountered on their 500-plus-mile adventure. There was a story around every bend and sand bar as their tiny boat snaked its way through the Piney Woods to the Gulf of Mexico. A must read!” — Van Craddock, Longview News-Journal columnist; author, East Texas Tales

“Writer Wes Ferguson and photographer Jacob Botter take us on an adventure that perhaps only an innocent child filled with wonderment might imagine possible. Ferguson's words flow like the water beneath him as he chronicles the Sabine River quest, intertwining science, history and folklore that parallel the human condition of the river culture with what nature presents at each bend in their path. Botter's interpretive documentary photographs reveal essential visual nuance throughout the voyage. They arouse our senses of beauty, sadness and humor.” — O. Rufus Lovett, photographer, educator, author

The Back Story


Growing up near the Sabine, journalist Wes Ferguson, like most East Texans, steered clear of its murky, debris-filled waters, where alligators lived in the backwater sloughs and an occasional body was pulled from some out-of-the-way crossing. The Sabine held a reputation as a haunt for a handful of hunters and loggers, more than a few water moccasins, swarms of mosquitoes, and the occasional black bear lumbering through swamp oak and cypress knees.

But when Ferguson set out to do a series of newspaper stories on the upper portion of the river, he and photographer Jacob Croft Botter were entranced by the river’s subtle beauty and the solitude they found there. They came to admire the self-described “river rats” who hunted, fished, and swapped stories along the muddy water—plain folk who love the Sabine as much as Hill Country vacationers love the clear waters of the Guadalupe. Determined to travel the rest of the river, Ferguson and Botter loaded their gear and launched into the stretch of river that charts the line between the states and ends at the Gulf of Mexico.

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