In Texas, Wichita Falls lies at the nexus of many strains of American environmental history. Covering Progressive Era land ethics, water management, boom and bust oil towns, colorful municipal boosters, and many other topics. The Falls of Wichita Falls analyzes a local history with dramatically national implications.
Beginning with Teddy Roosevelt's famous wolf hunt in Frederick, Oklahoma and covering the long twentieth century up through the emergence of Indian Casinos, Jahue Anderson's incisive book challenges the myth of rugged individualism as the central feature of the Red Rolling Plains cultural landscape.
Crucially, Anderson examines how local indigenous environmental knowledge was washed out by moonshot plans to irrigate a valley, a project that ultimately failed to improve living conditions. The dreams of an "irrigated valley" gave way to a cultural landscape of oil derricks, military installations, suburbs, and a complex system of reservoirs and pumping stations built on the Little Wichita River to bring water to people living in the Big Wichita River Valley.
The Falls of Wichita Falls sketches an environmental blueprint that encapsulates a thirsty city and its people, the commodification of natural resources, and the endemic ideological postures shaping how Americans attempt to subdue the land of the American west.
Jahue Anderson earned a PhD in US History from Texas Christian University in 2009. He is an instructor of history at Tarleton State University, where he teaches United States and Texas history. His interests include environmental history, agricultural history, rural history, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and the history of popular music. He enjoys traveling, collecting vinyl records, and relaxing in the country.
"The Falls of Wichita Falls highlights important sustainability lessons for developers and business leaders who want to bring growth to their towns and cities. The book also offers a rich collection of notes, an extensive bibliography, and details about other sources that can be helpful when researching the history, ecology, or economic conditions of the Red Rolling Plains. [Jahue] Anderson's new work of environmental history likewise should appeal to many readers concerned about global warming and the effects of climate change."
– Si Dunn, Lone Star Review: Lone Star Literary Life