Trinity River (Texas)
The Trinity River is a 710 miles (1,142.6 km) long river that flows entirely within the U.S. state
U.S. state
A U.S. state is any one of the 50 federated states of the United States of America that share sovereignty with the federal government. Because of this shared sovereignty, an American is a citizen both of the federal entity and of his or her state of domicile. Four states use the official title of...

 of 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...

. It rises in extreme north Texas, a few miles south of the Red River
Red River (Mississippi watershed)
The Red River, or sometimes the Red River of the South, is a major tributary of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers in the southern United States of America. The river gains its name from the red-bed country of its watershed. It is one of several rivers with that name...

. The headwaters are separated by the high bluffs on the south side of the Red River.
Robert Cavelier de La Salle, in 1687, called the stream the "River of Canoes". The name "Trinity" came three years later in 1690 from Alonso De León
Alonso De León
Alonso de León wasexplorer and governor, who led several expeditions into the area that is now northeastern Mexico and southern Texas.-Early life:...

, who called the stream the "La Santísima Trinidad" ("the Most Holy Trinity").


The Trinity has five branches: the West Fork, the Clear Fork, the North Wedge, the Elm Fork, and the East Fork.

The West Fork has its headwaters in Archer County. From there it flows southeast, through the man-made reservoirs Lake Bridgeport
Lake Bridgeport (Texas)
Lake Bridgeport, also known as Bridgeport Lake, is a man-made, freshwater reservoir located in Wise and Jack Counties in North Texas. The lake was created by damming the West Fork of the Trinity River and sits upstream from Eagle Mountain Lake...

 and Eagle Mountain Lake
Eagle Mountain Lake
Eagle Mountain Lake is a freshwater lake in North Texas. The lake was created by damming the West Fork of the Trinity River and sits below Lake Bridgeport and above Lake Worth . The lake dam was finished on October 24, 1932. In 1965, the District voters approved a bond issue to allow the District...

 then flowing eastward through Lake Worth
Lake Worth (Texas)
Lake Worth is located on the West Fork of the Trinity River. It is entirely inside the Fort Worth, Texas city limits.Lake Worth is a reservoir in Texas. It was built in 1914 as a reservoir and for recreation. The lake is controlled by the City of Fort Worth Lake Worth Management Office. The lake...

 and then the city of Fort Worth
Fort Worth, Texas
Fort Worth is the 16th-largest city in the United States of America and the fifth-largest city in the state of Texas. Located in North Central Texas, just southeast of the Texas Panhandle, the city is a cultural gateway into the American West and covers nearly in Tarrant, Parker, Denton, and...

. The Clear Fork begins north of Weatherford, Texas
Weatherford, Texas
Weatherford is a city in Parker County, Texas, United States, and a western suburb of Fort Worth. The population was 19,000 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Parker County and is part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.-Geography:...

 and flows southeastward through man-made Lake Weatherford and man-made Benbrook Lake
Benbrook Lake
Benbrook Lake is a reservoir on the Clear Fork of the Trinity River in Tarrant County, Texas, USA. The lake is located approximately 10 miles southwest of the center of Fort Worth, where the Clear Fork and the West Fork of the Trinity River join. The lake is impounded by the Benbrook Dam. The...

 and then northeastward, where it joins the West Fork near downtown Fort Worth and continues as the West Fork. The Elm Fork flows south from near Gainesville
Gainesville, Texas
Gainesville is a city in and the county seat of Cooke County, Texas, United States. The population was 15,538 at the 2000 census.-History:...

 and east of the city of Denton
Denton, Texas
The city of Denton is the county seat of Denton County, Texas in the United States. Its population was 119,454 according to the 2010 U.S. Census, making it the eleventh largest city in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex...

. The West Fork and the Elm Fork merge as they enter the city of Dallas
Dallas, Texas
Dallas is the third-largest city in Texas and the ninth-largest in the United States. The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is the largest metropolitan area in the South and fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States...

 and form the Trinity River.

The East Fork (on old maps the Bois-Arc River) begins near McKinney, Texas
McKinney, Texas
McKinney is a city in and the county seat of Collin County, Texas, United States, and the second in population to Plano. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the city's 2010 population was 131,117 The Census Bureau listed McKinney as the nation's fastest growing city from 2000 to 2003 and again in...

 and joins the Trinity River just southeast of Dallas.

The Trinity then flows southeastward from Dallas across a fertile floodplain and the pine forests of eastern Texas, many of which were settled during the period of the Republic of Texas
Republic of Texas
The Republic of Texas was an independent nation in North America, bordering the United States and Mexico, that existed from 1836 to 1846.Formed as a break-away republic from Mexico by the Texas Revolution, the state claimed borders that encompassed an area that included all of the present U.S...

. The Trinity crosses Texas State Highway 31 in Henderson County
Henderson County, Texas
As of the census of 2000, there were 73,277 people, 28,804 households, and 20,969 families residing in the county. The population density was 84 people per square mile . There were 35,935 housing units at an average density of 41 per square mile...

, near where the first county seat, Buffalo, was established. Roughly 65 miles (105 km) north of the mouth, an earthen dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

 was built in 1968 to form Lake Livingston
Lake Livingston
Lake Livingston is a reservoir located in the East Texas Piney Woods. Lake Livingston was built, and is owned and operated, by the Trinity River Authority of Texas under contract with the City of Houston for water supply purposes. The lake is the largest lake constructed for water supply purposes...

. It flows onward to the south, into the Trinity Bay
Trinity Bay (Texas)
Trinity Bay is the northeast portion of Galveston Bay, bordered by Chambers and Harris counties in Texas, United States. The bay, approximately long, heads at the mouth of the Trinity River...

, an arm of Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay
Galveston Bay is a large estuary located along the upper coast of Texas in the United States. It is connected to the Gulf of Mexico and is surrounded by sub-tropic marshes and prairies on the mainland. The water in the Bay is a complex mixture of sea water and fresh water which supports a wide...

, an inlet of 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...

, near the town of Anahuac
Anahuac, Texas
Anahuac is a city in the U.S. state of Texas within the Houston–Sugar Land–Baytown metropolitan area. The population of the city was 2,210 at the 2000 census. Anahuac is the seat of Chambers County and is situated in East Texas.- History :...

 east of Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...


Public works projects

Plans for a shipping channel along the length of the Trinity River were scrapped because it would have required extensive dredging to make the river navigable, although several overpasses were built with very high clearances in anticipation of the shipping channel. The Trinity River Corridor Project is intended to transform the Trinity River flood zone in downtown Dallas
Downtown Dallas
Downtown Dallas is the Central Business District in Dallas, Texas USA, located in the geographic center of the city. The area termed "Downtown" has traditionally been defined as bounded by the downtown freeway loop: bounded on the east by I-345 Downtown Dallas is the Central Business District...

 into the nation's largest urban park, featuring three signature bridges designed by acclaimed architect Santiago Calatrava
Santiago Calatrava
Santiago Calatrava Valls is a Spanish architect, sculptor and structural engineer whose principal office is in Zürich, Switzerland. Classed now among the elite designers of the world, he has offices in Zürich, Paris, Valencia, and New York City....

. This project is on hold with the promised funds never showing up. There has also been repeated engineering rejection of the location of the included toll road in the flood plain that would cut off the park from downtown, combined with the realization that the levees are in poor condition and need major work. The first bridge is still being built.

A similar project is planned by the Tarrant Regional Water District, City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Streams & Valleys Inc., and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop an area north of "downtown" as "uptown" along the Trinity River. This plan promotes a large mixed use development adjacent to the central city area of Fort Worth, with a goal to prevent urban sprawl by promoting the growth of a healthy, vibrant urban core. The Trinity River Vision lays the groundwork to enable Fort Worth's central business district to double in size over the next forty years.


Major flooding occurred on the Trinity River in the years 1844, 1866, 1871, and 1890, but a major event in the spring of 1908 set in motion the harnessing of the river. On 26 May 1908, the Trinity River reached a depth of 52.6 feet (16.03 m) and a width of 1.5 miles (2.4 km). Five people died, 4,000 were left homeless, and property damage was estimated at $
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

2.5 million.
Dallas was without power
Electricity is a general term encompassing a variety of phenomena resulting from the presence and flow of electric charge. These include many easily recognizable phenomena, such as lightning, static electricity, and the flow of electrical current in an electrical wire...

 for three days, all telephone
The telephone , colloquially referred to as a phone, is a telecommunications device that transmits and receives sounds, usually the human voice. Telephones are a point-to-point communication system whose most basic function is to allow two people separated by large distances to talk to each other...

 and telegraph service was down, and rail service was canceled. The only way to reach Oak Cliff was by boat. West Dallas
West Dallas
West Dallas is an area consisting of many communities and neighborhoods in Dallas, Texas . West Dallas is the area bounded by Interstate 30 on the south, the Trinity River on the east and north, and the Trinity River's West Fork on the west....

 was hit harder than any other part of the city—the Dallas Times Herald
Dallas Times Herald
The Dallas Times Herald, founded in 1888 by a merger of the Dallas Times and the Dallas Herald, was once one of two major daily newspapers serving the Dallas, Texas area. It won three Pulitzer Prizes, all for photography, and two George Polk Awards, for local and regional reporting...

said "indescribable suffering" plagued the area. Much to the horror of residents, thousands of livestock
Livestock refers to one or more domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce commodities such as food, fiber and labor. The term "livestock" as used in this article does not include poultry or farmed fish; however the inclusion of these, especially poultry, within the meaning...

 drowned in the flood and some became lodged in the tops of trees—the stench of their decay hung over the city as the water subsided.

After the disastrous flood, the city's citizenry wanted to find a way to control the unpredictable Trinity River and to build a bridge linking Oak Cliff
Oak Cliff
Oak Cliff is a community in Dallas, Texas, United States that was formerly a separate town located in Dallas County; Dallas annexed Oak Cliff in 1903...

 and Dallas. The immediate reaction was clamor to build an indestructible, all-weather crossing over the Trinity. This had already been tried following the 1890 flood—the result was the "Long Wooden Bridge" that connected Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff and Cadiz in Dallas, but the resulting unstable bridge was easily washed away by the 1908 flood. George B. Dealey
George Dealey
George Bannerman Dealey was a Dallas, Texas, businessman.Dealey was the long-time publisher of The Dallas Morning News. He used his influence to accomplish many goals but will always be remembered primarily for one of them. He crusaded for the redevelopment of a particularly blighted area near...

, publisher of the Dallas Morning News, proposed a 1.5 miles (2.4 km) concrete
Concrete is a composite construction material, composed of cement and other cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, aggregate , water and chemical admixtures.The word concrete comes from the Latin word...

 bridge based on the design of a bridge crossing the Missouri River
Missouri River
The Missouri River flows through the central United States, and is a tributary of the Mississippi River. It is the longest river in North America and drains the third largest area, though only the thirteenth largest by discharge. The Missouri's watershed encompasses most of the American Great...

 in Kansas City
Kansas City, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

. Ultimately, a US$
United States dollar
The United States dollar , also referred to as the American dollar, is the official currency of the United States of America. It is divided into 100 smaller units called cents or pennies....

650,000 (US$ in today's terms) bond election was approved and in 1912, the Oak Cliff Viaduct (now the Houston Street Viaduct) was opened with festivities that drew 58,000 spectators. The bridge, at the time, was the longest concrete structure in the world.


  • Bachman Branch
    Bachman Branch
    Bachman Branch is the name of a medium sized tributary of the Trinity River with headwaters in northwest Dallas, Texas . The tributary is 10 miles  in length and rises at Forest Lane, 0.5 miles  west of the Dallas North Tollway...

  • Cedar Creek
    Cedar Creek (Texas)
    Cedar Creek is a creek in Kaufman, Van Zandt, and Henderson counties in Texas. It is most known for being the creek impounded to create Cedar Creek Lake. It is a tributary to the Trinity River, flowing into it south of Trinidad...

  • Johnson Creek
    Johnson Creek (Texas)
    Johnson Creek is a stream in the Trinity River watershed in North Texas .The creek rises near Interstate 20 in eastern Tarrant County and runs northeasterly for to the West Fork of the Trinity River in Grand Prairie, within Dallas County...

  • Red Oak Creek
    Red Oak Creek
    Red Oak Creek or Bullock Creek is a stream in the Trinity River watershed in North Texas .Beginning in southwestern Dallas County near U.S. Route 67 and the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway in Cedar Hill, it enters the Trinity River east of Bristol, Texas in northeast Ellis County, some away,...

  • Richland Creek
    Richland Creek
    Richland Creek is a river in Texas.Richland Creek is also the name of the main creek flowing through Belleville, Illinois, and is a tributary to the Kaskaskia River.-References:**USGS Hydrologic Unit Map - State of Texas...

  • White Rock Creek
    White Rock Creek
    White Rock Creek is a 30 mile creek in the Elm Fork Trinity River watershed. From its headwaters near Frisco, Texas, it runs south-by-south-east through suburban Dallas for 23.5 miles where it widens into White Rock Lake, then continues south for another 8 miles to its mouth on the Trinity...

  • Big Creek
  • Five Mile Creek-southern Dallas County
  • Ten Mile Creek-southern Dallas County

See also

External links

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