Red River (Mississippi watershed)
Overview
 
The Red River, or sometimes the Red River of the South, is a major tributary of the Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 and Atchafalaya
Atchafalaya River
The Atchafalaya River is a distributary of the Mississippi River and Red River in south central Louisiana in the United States. It flows south, just west of the Mississippi River....

 Rivers in the southern United States of America. The river gains its name from the red-bed country
Red beds
Red beds are sedimentary rocks, which typically consist of sandstone, siltstone, and shale that are predominantly red in color due to the presence of ferric oxides. Frequently, these red-colored sedimentary strata locally contain thin beds of conglomerate, marl, limestone, or some combination of...

 of its watershed
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

. It is one of several rivers with that name. "The Mexicans and Indians on the borders of Mexico are in the habit of calling any river, the waters of which have a red appearance, 'Rio Colorado
Colorado River
The Colorado River , is a river in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, approximately long, draining a part of the arid regions on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The watershed of the Colorado River covers in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states...

', or Red river", observed R.B.
Encyclopedia
The Red River, or sometimes the Red River of the South, is a major tributary of the Mississippi
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 and Atchafalaya
Atchafalaya River
The Atchafalaya River is a distributary of the Mississippi River and Red River in south central Louisiana in the United States. It flows south, just west of the Mississippi River....

 Rivers in the southern United States of America. The river gains its name from the red-bed country
Red beds
Red beds are sedimentary rocks, which typically consist of sandstone, siltstone, and shale that are predominantly red in color due to the presence of ferric oxides. Frequently, these red-colored sedimentary strata locally contain thin beds of conglomerate, marl, limestone, or some combination of...

 of its watershed
Drainage basin
A drainage basin is an extent or an area of land where surface water from rain and melting snow or ice converges to a single point, usually the exit of the basin, where the waters join another waterbody, such as a river, lake, reservoir, estuary, wetland, sea, or ocean...

. It is one of several rivers with that name. "The Mexicans and Indians on the borders of Mexico are in the habit of calling any river, the waters of which have a red appearance, 'Rio Colorado
Colorado River
The Colorado River , is a river in the Southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico, approximately long, draining a part of the arid regions on the western slope of the Rocky Mountains. The watershed of the Colorado River covers in parts of seven U.S. states and two Mexican states...

', or Red river", observed R.B. Marcy in 1853. The Red River is the second largest river basin in the southern Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

. It rises in two branches (forks) in the Texas Panhandle
Texas Panhandle
The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east...

 and flows east, where it acts as the border between the states of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

. It is a short border between Texas and Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 before entering Arkansas, turning south near Fulton, Arkansas
Fulton, Arkansas
Fulton is a city in Hempstead County, Arkansas, United States. The population was 245 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Hope Micropolitan Statistical Area...

 and flowing into Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

. The total length of the river is 1360 miles (2,188.7 km), with a mean flow of over 57000 cuft/s at the mouth.

The Red River formed part of the US-Mexico border from the Adams-Onís Treaty
Adams-Onís Treaty
The Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819, also known as the Transcontinental Treaty or the Purchase of Florida, was a treaty between the United States and Spain in 1819 that gave Florida to the U.S. and set out a boundary between the U.S. and New Spain . It settled a standing border dispute between the two...

 (in force 1821) until the Texas Annexation
Texas Annexation
In 1845, United States of America annexed the Republic of Texas and admitted it to the Union as the 28th state. The U.S. thus inherited Texas's border dispute with Mexico; this quickly led to the Mexican-American War, during which the U.S. captured additional territory , extending the nation's...

 or Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo is the peace treaty, largely dictated by the United States to the interim government of a militarily occupied Mexico City, that ended the Mexican-American War on February 2, 1848...

.

Course

The Red River rises near the edge of the northwestern dip slope
Dip slope
A dip slope is a geological formation often created by erosion of tilted strata. Dip slopes are found on homoclinal ridges with one side that is steep and irregular and another side, the dip slope, that is generally planar with a dip parallel to the bedding...

 of the Llano Estacado
Llano Estacado
Llano Estacado , commonly known as the Staked Plains, is a region in the Southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas, including the South Plains and parts of the Texas Panhandle...

 mesa in two forks in northern Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 and southwestern Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

. The southern and largest fork, which is about 120 miles (193.1 km) long, is generally called the Prairie Dog Town Fork
Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River
Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River is a sandy-braided stream about long, formed at the confluence of Palo Duro Creek and Tierra Blanca Creek, about northeast of Canyon in Randall County, Texas, and flowing east-southeastward to the Red River about east of the 100th meridian, south-southwest of...

. It is formed in Randall County, Texas, near the county seat
County seat
A county seat is an administrative center, or seat of government, for a county or civil parish. The term is primarily used in the United States....

 of Canyon
Canyon, Texas
Canyon is a city in Randall County, Texas, United States. The population was 12,875 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Randall County. It is the home of West Texas A&M University and Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. Palo Duro Canyon State Park is some twelve miles east of Canyon...

, by the confluence
Confluence
Confluence, in geography, describes the meeting of two or more bodies of water.Confluence may also refer to:* Confluence , a property of term rewriting systems...

 of intermittent Palo Duro Creek
Palo Duro Creek
-References:**USGS Hydrologic Unit Map - State of Texas...

 and Tierra Blanca Creek
Tierra Blanca Creek
-References:**USGS Hydrologic Unit Map - State of Texas...

. (The names mean "Hard Wood" and "White Land", respectively, in Spanish.)

The Red River turns and flows southeast through Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon
Palo Duro Canyon is a canyon system of the Caprock Escarpment located in the Texas Panhandle near the city of Amarillo, Texas, United States. As the second largest canyon in the United States, it is roughly long and has an average width of , but reaches a width of at places. Its depth is around...

 in Palo Duro Canyon State Park at an elevation of 3440 feet (1,048.5 m), then past Newlin, Texas
Newlin, Texas
Newlin is an unincorporated community in Hall County in the U.S. state of Texas.The Newlin Cemetery is located at ....

, to meet the Oklahoma state line. Past that point, it is generally considered the main stem of the Red River. Near Elmer, Oklahoma
Elmer, Oklahoma
Elmer is a town in Jackson County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 96 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Elmer is located at .According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of , all of it land....

, the North Fork
North Fork Red River
The North Fork Red River is a river in the United States, rising in the Texas panhandle and flowing in a generally eastward direction into Oklahoma, after which it flows roughly SSE before joining the Red River near Frederick, Oklahoma and Vernon, Texas....

 finally joins, and the river proceeds to follow a winding course east through one of the most arid parts of the Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

, receiving the Wichita River
Wichita River
The Wichita River, part of the Red River watershed, lies in north-central Texas. Rising in northeastern Knox County at the confluence of its North and South Forks, the river flows northeast across Baylor, Archer, Wichita, and Clay counties before joining the Red River just west of Byers Bend in...

 from the right as it passes the city of Wichita Falls
Wichita Falls, Texas
Wichita Falls is a city in and the county seat of Wichita County, Texas, United States, United States. Wichita Falls is the principal city of the Wichita Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area, which encompasses all of Archer, Clay and Wichita counties. According to the U.S. Census estimate of 2010,...

. Near Denison
Denison, Texas
Denison is a city in Grayson County, Texas, United States. The population was 22,773 at the 2000 census; it is estimated to have grown to 24,127 in 2009. Denison is one of two principal cities in the Sherman-Denison Metropolitan Statistical Area.-History:...

 the river exits the eastern end of Lake Texoma
Lake Texoma
Lake Texoma is one of the largest reservoirs in the United States, the 12th largest Corps of Engineers lake, and the largest in USACE Tulsa District....

, a reservoir formed by the Denison Dam
Denison Dam
Denison Dam, also known as Lake Texoma Dam, is a dam located on the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma that impounds Lake Texoma. The purpose of the dam is flood control, water supply, hydroelectric power production, river regulation, navigation and recreation.-History:Completed in 1943 primarily...

. The lake is also fed by the Washita River
Washita River
The Washita River is a river in Texas and Oklahoma, United States. The river is long and terminates into Lake Texoma in Johnston County , Oklahoma and the Red River.-Geography:...

 from the north.

After the river flows out of the southeastern end of the lake, it runs generally east towards Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 and receives Muddy Boggy Creek
Muddy Boggy Creek
Muddy Boggy Creek, also known as the Muddy Boggy River, is a river in southeastern Oklahoma. It is a major tributary of the Red River.-Geography:Muddy Boggy Creek is located in the counties of Pontotoc, Hughes, Coal, Atoka, and Choctaw....

 from the left before turning southwards near Texarkana
Texarkana, Arkansas
As of the census of 2000, there were 26,448 people, 10,384 households, and 7,040 families residing in the city. The population density was 830.5 people per square mile . There were 11,721 housing units at an average density of 368.1 per square mile...

. Soon after, the river crosses south into Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 and bisects the sister cities of Shreveport
Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport is the third largest city in Louisiana. It is the principal city of the fourth largest metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana and is the 109th-largest city in the United States....

 and Bossier City before spreading into the complex network of marshlands surrounding the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
The Mississippi River is the largest river system in North America. Flowing entirely in the United States, this river rises in western Minnesota and meanders slowly southwards for to the Mississippi River Delta at the Gulf of Mexico. With its many tributaries, the Mississippi's watershed drains...

 and Atchafalaya River
Atchafalaya River
The Atchafalaya River is a distributary of the Mississippi River and Red River in south central Louisiana in the United States. It flows south, just west of the Mississippi River....

, where it is joined by the Ouachita River
Ouachita River
The Ouachita River is a river that runs south and east through the U.S. states of Arkansas and Louisiana, joining the Tensas River to form the Black River near Jonesville, Louisiana.-Course:...

, its largest tributary. Its waters eventually discharge into both rivers (but mainly into the Atchafalaya), and flow eastwards or southwards into the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

.

Tributaries

Tributaries include the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River
Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River
Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River is a sandy-braided stream about long, formed at the confluence of Palo Duro Creek and Tierra Blanca Creek, about northeast of Canyon in Randall County, Texas, and flowing east-southeastward to the Red River about east of the 100th meridian, south-southwest of...

, Salt Fork Red River
Salt Fork Red River
The Salt Fork Red River is a sandy-braided stream about long, heading on the Llano Estacado of West Texas about north of Claude of Armstrong County, Texas, flowing east across the Texas Panhandle and Western Oklahoma to join the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River about south of Altus of Jackson...

, North Fork Red River
North Fork Red River
The North Fork Red River is a river in the United States, rising in the Texas panhandle and flowing in a generally eastward direction into Oklahoma, after which it flows roughly SSE before joining the Red River near Frederick, Oklahoma and Vernon, Texas....

, Pease River
Pease River
The Pease River is river in Texas in the United States; it is a tributary of the Red River that runs in an easterly direction through West Texas . It was discovered and mapped for the first time in 1856 by Jacob de Córdova, who found the river while surveying for the Galveston, Houston and...

, Washita River
Washita River
The Washita River is a river in Texas and Oklahoma, United States. The river is long and terminates into Lake Texoma in Johnston County , Oklahoma and the Red River.-Geography:...

, Wichita River
Wichita River
The Wichita River, part of the Red River watershed, lies in north-central Texas. Rising in northeastern Knox County at the confluence of its North and South Forks, the river flows northeast across Baylor, Archer, Wichita, and Clay counties before joining the Red River just west of Byers Bend in...

, Little Wichita River
Little Wichita River
-References:**USGS Hydrologic Unit Map - State of Texas...

, Little River
Little River (Red River)
The Little River is a tributary of the Red River, about long, in southeastern Oklahoma and southwestern Arkansas in the United States. Via the Red, it is part of the watershed of the Mississippi River.-Course:...

, Sulphur River
Sulphur River
The Sulphur River is a river in northeast Texas and southwest Arkansas in the United States.-Geography:The Sulphur River begins at the confluence of its north and south forks along the Delta–Lamar county line...

, Loggy Bayou
Loggy Bayou
Loggy Bayou is a stream in northwestern Louisiana which connects Lake Bistineau with the Red River. Bistineau is the reservoir of Dorcheat Bayou, which flows southward from Nevada County, Arkansas, into Webster Parish...

 (through Lake Bistineau
Lake Bistineau
250px|right|thumb|Lake Bistineau south of [[Doyline, Louisiana|Doyline]], [[Louisiana]]Lake Bistineau is a long, narrow waterway of , wide and long located in Webster, Bossier, and Bienville parishes in northwestern Louisiana. The lake is fed by Dorcheat Bayou, Clark’s Bayou, and other smaller...

 and Dorcheat Bayou
Dorcheat Bayou
Dorcheat Bayou, also known as Bayou Dorcheat, is a stream in the USA that extends from Nevada County in southwestern Arkansas through Columbia County and into Webster Parish in northwestern Louisiana before emptying into Lake Bistineau east of the village of Doyline. To its south, Lake Bistineau...

)

Watershed

The Red River's watershed covers 65590 square miles (169,877.3 km²) and is the southernmost major right tributary of the Mississippi, and the southernmost major river system in the Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

. Its drainage basin is mostly in the states of Texas and Oklahoma, but also covers parts of Arkansas and Louisiana. The river basin is characterized by flat, fertile agricultural land, and there are only a few major cities. The drainage basin of the Red River is very arid and receives little precipitation
Precipitation (meteorology)
In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation In meteorology, precipitation (also known as one of the classes of hydrometeors, which are atmospheric water phenomena is any product of the condensation of atmospheric water vapor that falls under gravity. The main forms of precipitation...

. As a result, much of the river above the Texas-Oklahoma border is intermittent, and until the river is past its great bend south in Arkansas, the flow varies widely. Most of the agriculture in the basin is sustained by groundwater
Groundwater
Groundwater is water located beneath the ground surface in soil pore spaces and in the fractures of rock formations. A unit of rock or an unconsolidated deposit is called an aquifer when it can yield a usable quantity of water. The depth at which soil pore spaces or fractures and voids in rock...

, which is rapidly being depleted. The lower course of the river flows through a series of marsh
Marsh
In geography, a marsh, or morass, is a type of wetland that is subject to frequent or continuous flood. Typically the water is shallow and features grasses, rushes, reeds, typhas, sedges, other herbaceous plants, and moss....

es and swamp
Swamp
A swamp is a wetland with some flooding of large areas of land by shallow bodies of water. A swamp generally has a large number of hammocks, or dry-land protrusions, covered by aquatic vegetation, or vegetation that tolerates periodical inundation. The two main types of swamp are "true" or swamp...

s, where its flow is dramatically moderated.

Native Americans

Native American cultures along the river were diverse, developing specialized adaptations to the many different environments. By the time of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an contact, the eastern piney woods
Piney Woods
The Piney Woods is a temperate coniferous forest terrestrial ecoregion in the Southern United States covering of East Texas, southern Arkansas, western Louisiana, and southeastern Oklahoma. These coniferous forests are dominated by several species of pine as well as hardwoods including hickory and...

 were dominated by the numerous tribes of the Caddoan Confederacy. They found plentiful game and fish, and also had good land for cultivating staple crops. The middle part of the Red River was dominated by Wichita and Tonkawa
Tonkawa
The Tickanwa•tic Tribe , better known as the Tonkawa , are a Native American people indigenous to present-day Oklahoma and Texas. They once spoke the now-extinct Tonkawa language believed to have been a language isolate not related to any other indigenous tongues...

. This area was prairie
Prairie
Prairies are considered part of the temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands biome by ecologists, based on similar temperate climates, moderate rainfall, and grasses, herbs, and shrubs, rather than trees, as the dominant vegetation type...

, where Native Americans constructed portable and temporary tepees for housing. They practiced limited farming and followed game in seasonal, nomadic hunting cycles. The Apache
Apache
Apache is the collective term for several culturally related groups of Native Americans in the United States originally from the Southwest United States. These indigenous peoples of North America speak a Southern Athabaskan language, which is related linguistically to the languages of Athabaskan...

 dominated the western Red River area until the 18th century, when they were displaced by invading Comanche
Comanche
The Comanche are a Native American ethnic group whose historic range consisted of present-day eastern New Mexico, southern Colorado, northeastern Arizona, southern Kansas, all of Oklahoma, and most of northwest Texas. Historically, the Comanches were hunter-gatherers, with a typical Plains Indian...

 from the north.

European-American exploration and settlement

In 1806, President Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson was the principal author of the United States Declaration of Independence and the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom , the third President of the United States and founder of the University of Virginia...

 commissioned the Red River Expedition
Red River Expedition (1806)
The Red River Expedition, also known as the Freeman-Custis Expedition, Freeman Red River Expedition, Sparks Expedition, or officially as the Exploring Expedition of Red River in 1806, was one of the first civilian scientific expeditions to explore the Southwestern United States...

 to explore parts of the new lands of the Louisiana Purchase
Louisiana Purchase
The Louisiana Purchase was the acquisition by the United States of America of of France's claim to the territory of Louisiana in 1803. The U.S...

 by traveling up the Red River, "in truth, next to the Missouri, the most interesting water of the Mississippi", he put it in a letter to William Dunbar
William Dunbar
William Dunbar was a Scottish poet. He was probably a native of East Lothian, as assumed from a satirical reference in the Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie , where, too, it is hinted that he was a member of the noble house of Dunbar....

. The expedition, having threaded the maze of bayous at the river's confluence, and the "Great Raft
Great Raft
The Great Raft was a gigantic logjam or series of "rafts" that clogged the Red and Atchafalaya Rivers and was unique in North America.-Origin:It has been speculated that the trees in the jams were knocked down by an impact event...

" of lodged driftwood, was stopped by the Spanish near what is now New Boston, Texas
New Boston, Texas
New Boston is a city in Bowie County, Texas, United States. It was named after an early store keeper, W.J. Boston. It is part of the Texarkana, Texas - Texarkana, Arkansas Metropolitan Statistical Area.-Geography:...

. In 1806, Lieutenant Zebulon Pike
Zebulon Pike
Zebulon Montgomery Pike Jr. was an American officer and explorer for whom Pikes Peak in Colorado is named. As a United States Army captain in 1806-1807, he led the Pike Expedition to explore and document the southern portion of the Louisiana Purchase and to find the headwaters of the Red River,...

, under orders to ascertain the source of the Red River having ascended the Arkansas River
Arkansas River
The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. The Arkansas generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's initial basin starts in the Western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas...

, made his way downstream on what turned out to be the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

, and was sent home by the Spanish authorities. A more successful exploration of the river's upper reaches to both its sources was the 1852 expedition under Capt. Randolph Barnes Marcy, assisted by Brevet Capt. George B. McClellan
George B. McClellan
George Brinton McClellan was a major general during the American Civil War. He organized the famous Army of the Potomac and served briefly as the general-in-chief of the Union Army. Early in the war, McClellan played an important role in raising a well-trained and organized army for the Union...

, later to make his mark in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

.

In Louisiana, the area of present-day Natchitoches Parish was settled by French Creole and mixed-race Louisiana Creole people
Louisiana Creole people
Louisiana Creole people refers to those who are descended from the colonial settlers in Louisiana, especially those of French and Spanish descent. The term was first used during colonial times by the settlers to refer to those who were born in the colony, as opposed to those born in the Old World...

, starting before 1800. The Cane River National Heritage Area
Cane River National Heritage Area
The Cane River National Heritage Area is a United States National Heritage Area in the state of Louisiana. The heritage area is known for its spectacular Creole architecture as well as numerous other sites that preserve the multi-cultural history of the area...

 marks this area of influence, with plantations and churches founded by Louisiana Creoles. Some of the sites are also on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail
Louisiana African American Heritage Trail
Louisiana African American Heritage Trail is a cultural heritage trail with 26 sites designated in 2008 by the state of Louisiana, from New Orleans along the Mississippi River to Baton Rouge and Shreveport, with sites in small towns and plantations also included. In New Orleans several sites are...

. For nearly 100 years after the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, some of the plantations were the center of a large African American
African American
African Americans are citizens or residents of the United States who have at least partial ancestry from any of the native populations of Sub-Saharan Africa and are the direct descendants of enslaved Africans within the boundaries of the present United States...

 and Creole community life, whose people lived and worked in this area for generations.

The area along the lower Red River of Grant Parish, Louisiana
Grant Parish, Louisiana
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 18,698 people, 7,073 households, and 5,276 families residing in the parish. The population density was 29 people per square mile . There were 8,531 housing units at an average density of 13 per square mile...

, and neighboring parishes were a mixture of hill country and plantations, with white planters
Plantations in the American South
Plantations were an important aspect of the history of the American South, particularly the antebellum .-Planter :The owner of a plantation was called a planter...

 and subsistence farmers, and numerous African-American slaves on the plantations in the antebellum years. It was one of heated social tensions and insurgency
Insurgency
An insurgency is an armed rebellion against a constituted authority when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents...

 during and after the Reconstruction era. Grant was a new parish created by the Reconstruction legislature, which was trying to increase Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 representation. In 1873, Grant Parish was the site of the Colfax Riot, caused by the political tension and violence arising out of the disputed 1872 gubernatorial election and efforts by local whites to keep white supremacy. White militias, organized from nearby parishes, killed more than 100 freedmen, some of whom had surrendered as prisoners. In 1874, such militias organized as the White League
White League
The White League was a white paramilitary group started in 1874 that operated to turn Republicans out of office and intimidate freedmen from voting and political organizing. Its first chapter in Grant Parish, Louisiana was made up of many of the Confederate veterans who had participated in the...

 in Grant Parish, and other chapters were soon founded across the state. The Coushatta Massacre
Coushatta massacre
The Coushatta Massacre was the result of an attack by the White League, a paramilitary organization composed of white Southern Democrats, on Republican officeholders and freedmen in Coushatta, the parish seat of Red River Parish, Louisiana...

 was attributed to the White League, which attacked Republican officeholders to run them out of office. The paramilitary groups intimidated and terrorized freedmen to keep them from the polls, and by the late 1870s, conservative Democrats
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 had retaken political control of the state.

Great Raft

In the early 19th century, settlers found that much of the river's length in Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 was unnavigable because of a collection of fallen trees that formed a "Great Raft
Great Raft
The Great Raft was a gigantic logjam or series of "rafts" that clogged the Red and Atchafalaya Rivers and was unique in North America.-Origin:It has been speculated that the trees in the jams were knocked down by an impact event...

" over 160 miles (257.5 km) long. Captain Henry Miller Shreve
Henry Miller Shreve
Henry Miller Shreve was the American inventor and steamboat captain who opened the Mississippi, Ohio and Red rivers to steamboat navigation. Shreveport, Louisiana, is named in his honor....

 began clearing the log jam in 1839. The log jam was not completely cleared until the 1870s, when dynamite
Dynamite
Dynamite is an explosive material based on nitroglycerin, initially using diatomaceous earth , or another absorbent substance such as powdered shells, clay, sawdust, or wood pulp. Dynamites using organic materials such as sawdust are less stable and such use has been generally discontinued...

 became available. The river was thereafter navigable, but north of Natchitoches
Natchitoches, Louisiana
Natchitoches is a city in and the parish seat of Natchitoches Parish, Louisiana, United States. Established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis as part of French Louisiana, the community was named after the Natchitoches Indian tribe. The City of Natchitoches was first incorporated on February...

 it was restricted to small craft.

In the 20th century, the interest group known as the Red River Valley Association was formed to lobby the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 to make the river fully navigable between Alexandria
Alexandria, Louisiana
Alexandria is a city in and the parish seat of Rapides Parish, Louisiana, United States. It lies on the south bank of the Red River in almost the exact geographic center of the state. It is the principal city of the Alexandria metropolitan area which encompasses all of Rapides and Grant parishes....

 and Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport is the third largest city in Louisiana. It is the principal city of the fourth largest metropolitan area in the state of Louisiana and is the 109th-largest city in the United States....

. Leading supporters of the longstanding project were Louisiana Democratic
Democratic Party (United States)
The Democratic Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Republican Party. The party's socially liberal and progressive platform is largely considered center-left in the U.S. political spectrum. The party has the lengthiest record of continuous...

 senators Allen J. Ellender
Allen J. Ellender
Allen Joseph Ellender was a popular U.S. senator from Houma, Louisiana , who served from 1937 until his death. He was a Democrat who was originally allied with the legendary Huey Pierce Long, Jr.. As Senator he compiled a generally conservative record, voting 77% of the time with the Conservative...

, J. Bennett Johnston, Jr. and Russell B. Long
Russell B. Long
Russell Billiu Long was an American Democratic politician and United States Senator from Louisiana from 1948 until 1987.-Early life:...

, Louisiana's former Fourth District Congressman Joseph David "Joe D." Waggonner, Jr.
Joe Waggonner
Joseph David Waggonner, Jr. , better known as Joe D. Waggonner, was a Democratic U.S. Representative from Bossier Parish who represented the old 4th Congressional District of northwest Louisiana from December 1961 until January 1979. He was also a confidant of Republican U.S...

, and the late Shreveport Mayor Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Jr.
Calhoun Allen
Littleberry Calhoun Allen, Jr. , was from 1970 to 1978 a two-term Democratic mayor of Shreveport, Louisiana, the state's third largest city. From 1962-1970, he was the municipal public utilities commissioner. He also served some two months as a "District B" city council member after his election in...

  With the completion of the project, a lock system constructed by the US Army Corps of Engineers (COE) now allows navigation of barge
Barge
A barge is a flat-bottomed boat, built mainly for river and canal transport of heavy goods. Some barges are not self-propelled and need to be towed by tugboats or pushed by towboats...

 traffic as far north as Shreveport.

Greer County debate

Specialists debate whether the North Fork
North Fork Red River
The North Fork Red River is a river in the United States, rising in the Texas panhandle and flowing in a generally eastward direction into Oklahoma, after which it flows roughly SSE before joining the Red River near Frederick, Oklahoma and Vernon, Texas....

 or the Prairie Dog Town Fork
Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River
Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River is a sandy-braided stream about long, formed at the confluence of Palo Duro Creek and Tierra Blanca Creek, about northeast of Canyon in Randall County, Texas, and flowing east-southeastward to the Red River about east of the 100th meridian, south-southwest of...

 is the true stem. Because of a cartographic
Cartography
Cartography is the study and practice of making maps. Combining science, aesthetics, and technique, cartography builds on the premise that reality can be modeled in ways that communicate spatial information effectively.The fundamental problems of traditional cartography are to:*Set the map's...

 error, the land between the north and south forks was claimed by both the state of Texas and the federal government. Randolph B. Marcy
Randolph B. Marcy
Randolph Barnes Marcy was a career officer in the United States Army, achieving the rank of Brigadier General before retiring in 1881. Although beginning in 1861 his responsibilities were those of a brigadier general, the U.S...

's expedition followed the Prairie Dog Town Fork
Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River
Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River is a sandy-braided stream about long, formed at the confluence of Palo Duro Creek and Tierra Blanca Creek, about northeast of Canyon in Randall County, Texas, and flowing east-southeastward to the Red River about east of the 100th meridian, south-southwest of...

 in 1852. Originally called Greer County, Texas
Greer County, Texas
Greer County, was a county created by the Texas legislature on February 8, 1860 , was land claimed by both Texas and the United States.-Origin of the dispute:...

, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it belonged to the United States, which at the time oversaw the Oklahoma Territory
Oklahoma Territory
The Territory of Oklahoma was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 2, 1890, until November 16, 1907, when it was joined with the Indian Territory under a new constitution and admitted to the Union as the State of Oklahoma.-Organization:Oklahoma Territory's...

. That territory was later incorporated into the state of Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

, whose southern border now follows the south fork. Today, the southern Prairie Dog Town Fork
Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River
Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River is a sandy-braided stream about long, formed at the confluence of Palo Duro Creek and Tierra Blanca Creek, about northeast of Canyon in Randall County, Texas, and flowing east-southeastward to the Red River about east of the 100th meridian, south-southwest of...

 is considered the main fork, even though the North Fork
North Fork Red River
The North Fork Red River is a river in the United States, rising in the Texas panhandle and flowing in a generally eastward direction into Oklahoma, after which it flows roughly SSE before joining the Red River near Frederick, Oklahoma and Vernon, Texas....

 is as long and normally has a greater water flow.

Recreation

In 1943, Denison Dam
Denison Dam
Denison Dam, also known as Lake Texoma Dam, is a dam located on the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma that impounds Lake Texoma. The purpose of the dam is flood control, water supply, hydroelectric power production, river regulation, navigation and recreation.-History:Completed in 1943 primarily...

 was built on the Red River to form Lake Texoma
Lake Texoma
Lake Texoma is one of the largest reservoirs in the United States, the 12th largest Corps of Engineers lake, and the largest in USACE Tulsa District....

, a large reservoir of 89000 acre, some 70 miles (112.7 km) north of Dallas. Other reservoirs on the river's tributaries
Tributary
A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a main stem river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean...

 serve as flood control
Flood control
In communications, flood control is a feature of many communication protocols designed to prevent overwhelming of a destination receiver. Such controls can be implemented either in software or in hardware, and will often request that the message be resent after the receiver has finished...

.

See also

  • Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River
    Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River
    Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River is a sandy-braided stream about long, formed at the confluence of Palo Duro Creek and Tierra Blanca Creek, about northeast of Canyon in Randall County, Texas, and flowing east-southeastward to the Red River about east of the 100th meridian, south-southwest of...

  • Red River Bridge War
    Red River Bridge War
    The Bridge War, also called the Red River Bridge War or the Toll Bridge War, was a 1931 bloodless boundary conflict between the U.S. states of Oklahoma and Texas over an existing toll bridge and a new free bridge crossing the Red River....

  • Red River Campaign
    Red River Campaign
    The Red River Campaign or Red River Expedition consisted of a series of battles fought along the Red River in Louisiana during the American Civil War from March 10 to May 22, 1864. The campaign was a Union initiative, fought between approximately 30,000 Union troops under the command of Maj. Gen....

    , 1864, during the American Civil War, 1861 - 1865
  • Adams–Onís Treaty
  • The Red River Shootout, the annual college football game between the University of Texas Longhorns and the University of Oklahoma
    University of Oklahoma
    The University of Oklahoma is a coeducational public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. Founded in 1890, it existed in Oklahoma Territory near Indian Territory for 17 years before the two became the state of Oklahoma. the university had 29,931 students enrolled, most located at its...

    Sooners.

  • External links



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