Colorado River in Austin as seen from Mount Bonnell
Map of the Colorado River and associated watershed
|⁃ location||Dawson County|
|⁃ elevation||3,280 ft (1,000 m)|
|Gulf of Mexico, at Matagorda County, Texas|
|0 ft (0 m)|
|Length||862 mi (1,387 km)|
|Basin size||39,900 sq mi (103,000 km2)|
|⁃ location||Bay City|
|⁃ average||2,609 cu ft/s (73.9 m3/s)|
|⁃ minimum||0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)|
|⁃ maximum||84,100 cu ft/s (2,380 m3/s)|
The Colorado River is an approximately 862-mile (1,387 km) long river in the U.S. state of Texas. It is the 18th longest river in the United States and the longest river with both its source and its mouth within Texas.
Its drainage basin and some of its usually dry tributaries extend into New Mexico. It flows generally southeast from Dawson County through Ballinger, Marble Falls, Austin, Bastrop, Smithville, La Grange, Columbus, Wharton, and Bay City before emptying into the Gulf of Mexico at Matagorda Bay.
The Colorado River originates south of Lubbock, on the Llano Estacado, near Lamesa. It flows generally southeast, out of the Llano Estacado and through the Texas Hill Country, through several reservoirs including Lake J.B. Thomas, E.V. Spence Reservoir, and Lake O.H. Ivie. The river flows through several more reservoirs before reaching Austin, including Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake Lyndon B. Johnson (commonly referred to as Lake LBJ), and Lake Travis. The Llano River joins the Colorado at Lake LBJ near Kingsland. The Pedernales River joins the Colorado at Lake Travis near Briarcliff. After passing through Austin, the Colorado River continues flowing southeast until emptying into Matagorda Bay on the Gulf of Mexico, near Matagorda.
The Colorado River, which means "red"or "reddish" river in Spanish, was frequently confused by Spanish explorers with the Brazos River to the north. The European discoverer of these two neighboring rivers called the present Colorado River the Brazos de Dios, and called the present Brazos the Colorado River, and later the names were reversed.
The upper Colorado River was controlled by Comanches from the early 18th century to the late 19th century. In 1757, Spanish Texas attempted to establish an outlying Catholic mission on the San Saba River, near its confluence with the Colorado River. Nearly defenseless and viewed by the Comanche tribe as a territorial invasion, the mission was sacked in 1758 by about 2,000 Comanches and their allies. The Comanche were not effectively challenged on the upper Colorado River for nearly a century.
The river is an important source of water for farming, cities, and electrical power production. Major man-made reservoirs on the river include Lake Buchanan, Inks Lake, Lake LBJ, Lake Marble Falls, Lake Travis, Lake Austin, and Lady Bird Lake in Austin. Collectively, these lakes are known as the Highland Lakes. In addition to power plants operating on each of the major lakes, waters of the Colorado are used for cooling the South Texas Nuclear Project, near Bay City. The Colorado River Municipal Water District owns and operates three reservoirs upstream of the Highland Lakes, Lake J. B. Thomas near Snyder, E.V. Spence Reservoir near Robert Lee, and O. H. Ivie Reservoir near Ballinger.
Flood control and use of the Colorado River is managed by two agencies established by the Texas Legislature, the Upper Colorado River Authority, and the Lower Colorado River Authority. There are 11 major reservoirs along the Colorado River.
The Colorado River is joined by five significant tributaries: Concho River, Pecan Bayou, Llano River, San Saba River and Pedernales River. Beals Creek is also a tributary fed by arroyos such as Sulphur Springs Draw, McKenzie, Seminole, Monument, Mustang, Midland, and Johnson Draws.
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The Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) is a nonprofit public utility created in November 1934 by the Texas Legislature. LCRA's mission is to enhance the lives of the Texans it serves through water stewardship, energy and community service. LCRA provides public power, manages the lower Colorado River, builds and operates transmission lines, owns public parks, and offers community services.
Lake Travis is a reservoir on the Colorado River in central Texas in the United States. The reservoir was formed in 1942 by the construction of Mansfield Dam on the western edge of Austin, Texas by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), and was built specifically to contain floodwaters in a flash-flood prone region. During its construction, after a severe flood in July 1938, the height of the dam was raised to add storage capacity for floodwaters.
Lake Austin, formerly Lake McDonald, is a water reservoir on the Colorado River in Austin, Texas. The reservoir was formed in 1939 by the construction of Tom Miller Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority. Lake Austin is one of the seven Highland Lakes created by the LCRA, and is used for flood control, electrical power generation, and recreation.
The Brazos River, called the Río de los Brazos de Dios by early Spanish explorers, is the 11th-longest river in the United States at 1,280 miles (2,060 km) from its headwater source at the head of Blackwater Draw, Curry County, New Mexico to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico with a 45,000-square-mile (116,000 km2) drainage basin. Being one of Texas' largest rivers, it is sometimes used to mark the boundary between East Texas and West Texas.
The Texas Highland Lakes is a chain of six fresh water reservoirs in Central Texas formed by six dams on the lower Colorado River. The Texas Colorado River winds southeast from West Texas to Matagorda Bay and the Gulf of Mexico.
Lake Lyndon B. Johnson is a reservoir on the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country about 45 miles northwest of Austin. The reservoir was formed in 1950 by the construction of Granite Shoals Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA). The Colorado River and the Llano River meet in the northern portion of the lake at Kingsland.
Lake Buchanan was formed by the construction of Buchanan Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority to provide a water supply for the region and to provide hydroelectric power. Buchanan Dam, a structure over 2 mi (3.2 km) in length, was completed in 1939. Lake Buchanan was the first of the Texas Highland Lakes to be formed, and with 22,333 acres of surface water, it is also the largest. The surface of the lake includes area in both Burnet and Llano Counties. The lake is west of the city of Burnet, Texas.
The 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. One of the largest mesas or tablelands on the North American continent, the elevation rises from 3,000 feet (900 m) in the southeast to over 5,000 feet (1,500 m) in the northwest, sloping almost uniformly at about 10 feet per mile (1.9 m/km).
The Pedernales River is a tributary of the Colorado River, approximately 106 miles (171 km) long, in central Texas in the United States. It drains an area of the Edwards Plateau, flowing west to east across the Texas Hill Country west of Austin. The name "Pedernales", first used in the middle 18th century, comes from a Spanish word for the flint rocks characteristic of the riverbed.
North American area code 979 is a state of Texas telephone area code for numbers in an area that generally follows the Brazos River found between the Austin and Houston metro areas and its surrounding communities, stretching from just south of Waco to the Gulf Coast. It was created February 13, 2000, in a split from area code 409.
Rath City was a frontier town which existed for fewer than five years and is now a ghost town. The town was located on the Double Mountain Fork Brazos River, 14 miles northwest of Hamlin in southern Stonewall County, Texas, United States.
The White River is an intermittent stream in the South Plains of Texas and a tributary of the Brazos River of the United States. It rises 8 miles (13 km) west of Floydada in southwestern Floyd County at the confluence of Callahan and Runningwater Draws. From there, it runs southeast for 62 miles (100 km) to its mouth on the Salt Fork of the Brazos River in northwestern Kent County. Besides these two headwaters, which rise near Hale Center and in Curry County, New Mexico, respectively, other tributaries include Pete, Crawfish, and Davidson Creeks. The White River drains an area of 1,690 sq mi (4,377 km2).
Central Texas is a region in the U.S. state of Texas surrounding Austin and roughly bordered by San Saba to Bryan and San Marcos to Hillsboro. Central Texas overlaps with and includes part of the Texas Hill Country and corresponds to a physiographic section designation within the Edwards Plateau, in a geographic context.
The Double Mountain Fork Brazos River is an ephemeral, sandy-braided stream about 170 mi (280 km) long, heading on the Llano Estacado of West Texas about 11.5 mi (18.5 km) southeast of Tahoka, Texas, flowing east-northeast across the western Rolling Plains to join the Salt Fork, forming the Brazos River about 17 mi (27 km) west-northwest of Haskell, Texas.
The North Fork Double Mountain Fork Brazos River is an intermittent stream about 75 mi (121 km) long, heading at the junction of Blackwater Draw and Yellow House Draw in the city of Lubbock, flowing generally southeastward to its mouth on the Double Mountain Fork Brazos River in western Kent County. It crosses portions of Lubbock, Crosby, Garza, and Kent counties in West Texas.