Big Thicket National Preserve
|Big Thicket National Preserve (National Park Service)|
As rich as its natural history is the Thicket's cultural history. Caddo Indians from the north and Atakapas to the south knew it as the Big Woods. Much later, Alabama and Coushatta Indians, pushed westward, found shelter here before they finally relocated to a reservation. Early Spanish settlers avoided this "impenetrable woods," as did early Anglo-Americans who named it the Big Thicket before the 1820s, when farms appeared around its perimeter. Pioneers from Appalachia began to settle here in search of new land, and theirs is the Big Thicket legacy.
During the Civil War many Big Thicket citizens went deeper into the woods to avoid conscription. Lumbering, begun on a small scale in the 1850s, geared up when a narrow-gauge railroad was built in 1876. The original forest was doomed. The Big Thicket, which once spread over 3.5 million acres, is now less than 300,000 acres, with some 84,550 acres authorized for protection in the Preserve. The Big Thicket lifestyle is passing, but its flavor persists in legends and lore.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication