Rio Grande
Boyds Mills Press, 1999
ISBN 978-1563977060
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  Rio Grande: From the Rocky Mountains to the Gulf of Mexico
written by Peter Lourie

The Spanish called it the Rio Grande, the "Great River." After the Mississippi and the Missouri Rivers, the Rio Grande is the third longest river in the United States. In its 1,885-mile course to the sea and in the history that has unfolded on its banks, it is also one of North America's most dramatic rivers.

Peter Lourie explores the Rio Grande to discover what makes the "Great River" great. He follows it from its headwaters in Colorado's snow-capped Rockies to the Gulf of Mexico's sub-tropical shores. His journey takes him into the territories of Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa. He visits an ancient Pueblo where he witnesses an annual feast day and corn dance. When the river becomes a 1,000-mile border between Mexico and the United States, he accompanies the U.S. Border Patrol, then takes a whitewater rafting trip through desert canyons of Big Bend National Park. Finally, the author's journey ends with a dive into the warm waters of the Gulf.

Here is the Rio Grande of history and legend, vividly brought to life through a lively and informative text, illustrated with full-color and archival photographs.

Behind the Book

Awards and Recognition

NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2000
Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List, 2000-2001


“Lourie's first-person travelogue successfully brings this body of water to life and provides readers with a sense of its history and the places that it passes through. The author also relates his feelings of excitement and adventure as he traveled downriver. Historical photographs and reproductions of Billy the Kid, General Santa Anna, Pancho Villa, and others supplement Lourie's bright, sharp full-color photographs; a map highlights the towns he visited during the trip. Through this photo-essay, armchair travelers can share the joy of following "...a river from its source to its mouth" while picking up bits of history, archaeology, culture, and political and environmental concern.” (School Library Journal)

“Unusually well-chosen photographs enhance the connections between the river's past and present with a mix of historical shots, new portraits, and landscapes in sharp color, and even a satellite picture. In Lourie, this "shallow, bony" river, our country's third longest, has found an enthusiastic, well-informed partisan.” (Booklist)

“Lourie, following the format of his previous photo-essays, traces the route of the Rio Grande, third longest river in the US, from its origin high in the Colorado mountains, 1,885 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way, historic and contemporary photographs tell of people and events past and present. The first-person narrative makes the past come alive; under discussion are ranchers, miners, and outlaws such as Billy the Kid and Pancho Villa. Lourie visits Taos Pueblos, describes the petroglyphs carved in the rocks, rafts, and camps along the shores, stops at a ghost town flooded when the Falcon Dam was created, interviews border patrol officers, and ends at the azure waters of the gulf. Throughout the narrative runs an accomplished combination of history, geography, archaeology, and ecology.”  (Kirkus Reviews)
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