Southern Methodist University (SMU) DeGolyer Library’s Edward C. Fritz Papers, 1950s-2008 digital collection contains 361 documents and photographs that record the 1970s debate over the canalization of the Trinity River in Dallas, TX, just one of the many environmental causes for which Edward C. "Ned" Fritz (1916-2008) campaigned. Fritz, considered by many to be the father of Texas conservation, fought numerous battles for Texas wildlife and waterways in the courtroom and through the legislature.
This digital collection highlights items associated with the sequence of events surrounding the Trinity River Project debate. The items span the period from 1966, when Fritz was serving on the steering committee of the Texas Committee for a Balanced Water Plan, to 1979, when the Army Corps of Engineers' report deemed the canal economically non-viable.
The 361 items include letters, community organization newsletters, photographs, reports, press releases, government documents, and other types of papers pertaining to plans to develop the Trinity River as a commercial waterway by transforming it into a barge canal. The freely accessible files, depicting a variety of aspects surrounding efforts to change this key Texas river, can be used for many purposes, including the study of Texas conservation, environmental studies, political science, geology, biodiversity, and corporate history.
The Trinity River Project was an initiative championed by Texas businessmen and politicians in the 1960s and '70s. With the support of the federal government, they offered a suite of flood control, water supply, and recreational improvements to Dallas/Fort Worth-area residents on the back of plans to reconstruct 552 miles of river into a 335-mile commercial waterway, stretching from Fort Worth and Dallas to the Gulf of Mexico. The large-scale dredging, damming, and restructuring of the riverbed was estimatedto cost the federal government and local taxpayers over $1.25 billion.
Anticipating large-scale environmental destruction coupled with rising property taxation -- and critical of the vested interests of the businessmen and landowners behind the project -- Fritz and fellow opponents formed the Citizens' Organization for a Sound Trinity (COST). The group, toting the slogan "Our dollars; their ditch," rallied local residents to vote against the project when it went for bond election
DeGolyer Library digital collections are part of CUL Digital Collections, which contain thousands of digitized photographs, manuscripts, imprints, and works of art held by SMU's Central University Libraries special collections.