A Bend in the River

Photographs of Buffalo Bayou through the Seasons

Dec. 21, 2015

Updated April 8, 2022

These lovely photographs document the changes in the seasons on Buffalo Bayou, and in the dynamic river itself. Taken (with a few exceptions) by Houston photographer Jim Olive, they were shot from the same high bank in Memorial Park looking downstream with the River Oaks Country Club on the right. This bend in the bayou was in the stretch proposed for destruction and “restoration” by the Harris County Flood Control District and the Bayou Preservation Association, with the support of the Memorial Park Conservancy and the City of Houston. The country club, which owns the south bank, in April 2019 began a massive and unnecessarily destructive “slope repair” project.

  • This first summer photo was taken by Susan Chadwick in July 2014. Proponents of Flood Control's destruction/restoration project claimed there was no overhanging tree canopy in the area. River Oaks Country Club on the right.
  • Late fall at sunrise from the same bend of Buffalo Bayou. Taken on Dec. 9, 2014, by Jim Olive from Memorial Park looking downstream.
  • Early spring on Buffalo Bayou at high water. Photo by Jim Olive on March 25, 2015.
  • Summertime view of the same bend in Buffalo Bayou from Memorial Park on August 1, 2015. Photo at low water (base flow) by Jim Olive.
  • Looking at Buffalo Bayou from Memorial Park from the same high bluff on Nov. 24, 2015. Photo by Jim Olive.
  • Sun rising over a bend of Buffalo Bayou at low water on Dec. 10, 2015. Photo taken by Jim Olive from a high bluff in Memorial Park looking downstream with the River Oaks Country Club on the right.
  • Early morning at high water on March 21, 2016, the day after the vernal equinox. The dams in west Houston were open, and water was flowing from the reservoirs at 2,000 cubic feet per second. Photo by Jim Olive, of course, from a high bluff in Memorial Park. River Oaks Country Club on the right.
  • Summer on Buffalo Bayou after the record high water from the spring rains had finally drained from Barker and Addicks dams upstream. Taken on July 8, 2016, by Jim Olive from the same high bank in Memorial Park looking downstream with the River Oaks Country Club on the right.
  • Foggy, warm winter morning on Buffalo Bayou at moderate flow, about 800 cubic feet per second. Photo by Jim Olive on Dec. 13, 2016.
  • Spring 2017, shot by Jim Olive on the morning of March 18 from Memorial Park with birds singing, frogs burping, squirrels quarreling, and warm air drifting up the high bank from the river at low flow.
  • Summer 2017. Flow was about 500 cubic feet per second after a nighttime storm on the morning of July 10, 2017. Slumped bank was healing. Frogs were a courting. Photo by Jim Olive.
  • That bend in the river on Sept. 1, 2017, after Hurricane Harvey dropped record rain all over. Flow was around 12,000 cubic feet per second. Photo by SC
  • The bend in the river on Sept. 11, 2017, around 2:30 p.m. as the floodwaters from Harvey were slowly draining. Flow was about 7,000 cubic feet per second, down from at least twice that. Photo by SC because Jim Olive was flying around taking photos of disastrous flooding all over the Gulf.
  • After the flood. That Bend in the River post-Harvey on Friday, 13 October, 2017, just after dawn. The flood control reservoirs behind the federal dams on Buffalo Bayou upstream had emptied finally and flow had dropped to base flow, about 200 cubic feet per second (cfs). Large amounts of sand and slumping of the high banks. Many downed trees. Photo by Jim Olive
  • Winter photo by Jim Olive on Jan 13, 2018. Flow was about 600 cubic feet per second. Temperature was a chilly 34 degrees shortly after sunrise about 7:30 a.m. The banks were much changed after the floodwaters of Harvey, with lots of slumping, fallen trees and missing vegetation. We could hardly find our spot. Note the buildup of sediment on the opposite bank.
  • That Bend in the River on April 15, 2018. Springtime all over the place. Flow was about 650 cubic feet per second after a brief thunderstorm the day before. Photo by SC
  • A trackhoe on a barge stuck in the sandy channel bottom of Buffalo Bayou at that bend below the high bank in Memorial Park. Maintenance contractor with flood control was removing fallen trees from the banks and channel. Photo by SC May 19, 2018
  • Summer sunrise on Buffalo Bayou. That bend in the bayou on July 1, 2018, with flow at about 280 cubic feet per second. Photo by Jim Olive, of course.
  • Fall 2018 on that Bend in the River. Water was high and the morning was cloudy just after sunrise. Photo by Jim Olive on Nov. 6, 2018.
  • We were late with our winter shot, and this February morning was gloomy, the trees and banks bare. Flow was very low, about 150 cfs. The bend appeared to have been widened by the damaging dredging done by maintenance contractors working to remove woody debris, some of which should have been left on the banks for stability and sediment control. Photo Feb. 14, 2019, by Jim Olive
  • Spring again! That bend in the bayou, early in the morning of April 26, 2019. Jim Olive was back in town to continue our series documenting this same spot through time. Photo by Jim.
  • Summertime 2019 on that bend in the river with some of the destruction of the south bank visible in the distance. Pile of dirt is part of the River Oaks Country Club's costly and excessively damaging bank project. Photo by Jim on July 8, 2019, from that same high bank in Memorial Park.
  • That Bend in the River on a cool fall day--at last! Tractor is sitting on a pile of dirt dug out of the bank by the River Oaks Country Club for its very discouraging and deeply destructive "bank repair" project upstream and downstream. Photo by Jim on Oct. 12, 2019
  • Jim Olive's Winter 2019-20 photo of that bend in the bayou with continuing destruction activity on the bank opposite. Photo Dec. 19, 2019
  • Since Jim Olive was on a general coronavirus lockdown in California, Susan took this Spring 2020 photo around 3 p.m. on March 23. Flow was high, about 900 cubic feet per second. We're hoping JO will be back soon to take a better one.
  • Jim O. was still locked down in California, where temperatures were shooting past 120, so Susan took this summer photo just after sunrise on July 12, 2020. After nearly two weeks of high flow from the release of stormwaters from the federal dams, flow had dropped to base flow at about 150 cfs as the flood-control reservoirs, Addicks and Barker, were finally emptied.
  • Fall on that bend in the bayou, looking through the yaupon downstream on Nov. 6, 2020. Photo by Jim Olive
  • That bend in winter several days after a historic freeze and snowstorm. Photo Feb. 20, 2021, by SC because highways were closed and JO couldn't make it through ice storm.
  • Jim Olive's late winter photo of that bend in the bayou. Taken on a drizzling, foggy morning just after sunrise on March 2, 2021.
  • A temporary shot for spring until Jim Olive gets back to town. Taken by SC around 6 p.m. on April 21, 2021.
  • That bend in the bayou in summer during high flow, over 2,000 cubic feet per second, as the Corps of Engineers continued to release stormwater impounded behind the federal flood control dams. Photo June 18, 2021, by Jim Olive.
  • Looking lush and green on that bend in the bayou right before the autumnal equinox. Tropical Storm Nicholas had just passed through. Fall photo Sept. 17, 2021, by Jim.
  • Early morning mist rising on the bend. Photo by Jim Olive on Nov. 12, 2021, showing a bit of fall color.
  • The bend in spring 2022. Photo by SC on April 7, 2022

2 thoughts on “A Bend in the River”

  1. Janice Van Dyke Walden says:

    Beautiful.

  2. olive hershey says:

    Organizations claiming to be protecting and restoring Buffalo Bayou are seeking to employ brutal, expensive methods to destroy its natural function. BPA, MPC and Audubon are not environmental organizations. They work as brokers for business interests aiming to profit from their “environmental” work. Thee non-profit “environmental organizations” are aiding and abetting some of their own members, some of whom are members of the River Oaks Country Club, Memorial Park Conservancy and the Bayou Preservation Association to lay waste the southern bank of the bayou inside Memorial Park. This is public land being desecrated for profit by the powerful engineering contractors and their associates. It is called “The Houston Way.”

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