Colorado River (Texas)

Last updated
Colorado River
Mount Bonnell 2008.jpg
Colorado River in Austin as seen from Mount Bonnell
ColoradoTexas Watershed.png
Map of the Colorado River and associated watershed
Location
Country United States
State Texas
Physical characteristics
Source 
 - location Dawson County
 - coordinates 32°40′47″N101°43′51″W / 32.67972°N 101.73083°W / 32.67972; -101.73083 [1]
 - elevation3,280 ft (1,000 m) [2]
Mouth Matagorda Bay
 - location
Gulf of Mexico, at Matagorda County, Texas
 - coordinates
28°35′41″N95°58′59″W / 28.59472°N 95.98306°W / 28.59472; -95.98306 Coordinates: 28°35′41″N95°58′59″W / 28.59472°N 95.98306°W / 28.59472; -95.98306 [1]
 - elevation
0 ft (0 m) [2]
Length862 mi (1,387 km)
Basin size39,900 sq mi (103,000 km2) [3]
Discharge 
 - location Bay City
 - average2,609 cu ft/s (73.9 m3/s)
 - minimum0 cu ft/s (0 m3/s)
 - maximum84,100 cu ft/s (2,380 m3/s)

The Colorado River is an 862-mile (1,387 km) long river [4] in the U.S. state of Texas. It is the 18th longest river in the United States [4] and the longest river with both its source and its mouth within Texas. [3]

United States federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico. The State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean. The U.S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The extremely diverse geography, climate, and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, while the Gulf of Mexico is to the southeast.

River delta Silt deposition landform at the mouth of a river

A river delta is a landform that forms from deposition of sediment that is carried by a river as the flow leaves its mouth and enters slower-moving or stagnant water. This occurs where a river enters an ocean, sea, estuary, lake, reservoir, or another river that cannot carry away the supplied sediment. The size and shape of a delta is controlled by the balance between watershed processes that supply sediment, and receiving basin processes that redistribute, sequester, and export that sediment. The size, geometry, and location of the receiving basin also plays an important role in delta evolution. River deltas are important in human civilization, as they are major agricultural production centers and population centers. They can provide coastline defense and can impact drinking water supply. They are also ecologically important, with different species' assemblages depending on their landscape position.

Contents

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. [3]

Drainage basin Area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet

A drainage basin is any area of land where precipitation collects and drains off into a common outlet, such as into a river, bay, or other body of water. The drainage basin includes all the surface water from rain runoff, snowmelt, and nearby streams that run downslope towards the shared outlet, as well as the groundwater underneath the earth's surface. Drainage basins connect into other drainage basins at lower elevations in a hierarchical pattern, with smaller sub-drainage basins, which in turn drain into another common outlet.

Tributary stream or river that flows into a main stem river or lake

A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a larger stream or main stem river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean. Tributaries and the main stem river drain the surrounding drainage basin of its surface water and groundwater, leading the water out into an ocean.

New Mexico State of the United States of America

New Mexico is a state in the Southwestern region of the United States of America; its capital and cultural center is Santa Fe, which was founded in 1610 as capital of Nuevo México, while its largest city is Albuquerque with its accompanying metropolitan area. It is one of the Mountain States and shares the Four Corners region with Utah, Colorado, and Arizona; its other neighboring states are Oklahoma to the northeast, Texas to the east-southeast, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua to the south and Sonora to the southwest. With a population around two million, New Mexico is the 36th state by population. With a total area of 121,590 sq mi (314,900 km2), it is the fifth-largest and sixth-least densely populated of the 50 states. Due to their geographic locations, northern and eastern New Mexico exhibit a colder, alpine climate, while western and southern New Mexico exhibit a warmer, arid climate.

Course

Oblique air photo of the Colorado River where it crosses from Colorado County into Wharton County near Nada. Colorado River Texas Nada.jpg
Oblique air photo of the Colorado River where it crosses from Colorado County into Wharton County near Nada.

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 Texas waterway is not connected to, nor part of, the longer and more well-known Colorado River.

Lubbock, Texas City in Texas, United States

Lubbock is the 11th most-populous city in the U.S. state of Texas and the county seat of Lubbock County. With a population of 256,042 in 2015, the city is also the 83rd most-populous in the United States. The city is located in northwestern part of the state, a region known historically and geographically as the Llano Estacado and ecologically is part of the southern end of the High Plains, lying at the economic center of the Lubbock metropolitan area, which has a projected 2020 population of 327,424.

Llano Estacado Southwestern United States in New Mexico

Llano Estacado, often translated as 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).

Lamesa, Texas City in Texas, United States

Lamesa is a city in and the county seat of Dawson County, Texas, United States. The population was 9,422 at the 2010 census, down from 9,952 at the 2000 census. Located south of Lubbock on the Llano Estacado, Lamesa was founded in 1903. Most of the economy is based on cattle ranching and cotton farming. The Preston E. Smith prison unit, named for the former governor of Texas, is located just outside Lamesa.

History

The Colorado River, which means "red" [5] or "reddish" river in Spanish, [6] was frequently confused by Spanish explorers with the Brazos River to the north. [3] 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. [6]

Brazos River river in Texas

The Brazos River, called the Rio 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 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. [7]

Comanche Plains native North American tribe whose historic territory consisted of eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and northwest Texas

The Comanche are a Native American nation from the Great Plains whose historic territory consisted of most of present-day northwestern Texas and adjacent areas in eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, western Oklahoma, and northern Chihuahua. The Comanche people are federally recognized as the Comanche Nation, headquartered in Lawton, Oklahoma.

Mission Santa Cruz de San Sabá

Mission Santa Cruz de San Saba was one of the Spanish missions in Texas. It was established in April 1757, along with the Presidio San Luis de las Amarillas, later renamed Presidio of San Sabá, in what is now Menard County. Located along the San Saba River, the mission was intended to convert members of the Lipan Apache tribe. Although no Apache ever resided at the mission, its existence convinced the Comanche that the Spanish had allied with the Comanche's mortal enemy. In 1758 the mission was destroyed by 2,000 warriors from the Comanche, Tonkawa, Yojuane, Bidai and Hasinai tribes. It was the only mission in Texas to be completely destroyed by Native Americans. The Indians did not attack the nearby presidio.

San Saba River river in Texas, USA

The San Saba River is a river in the U.S. state of Texas. It is an undeveloped and scenic waterway located on the northern boundary of the Edwards Plateau.

River modifications

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.

Lake Buchanan (Texas) lake

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.

Inks Lake lake in the United States of America

Inks Lake is a reservoir on the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country in the United States. The reservoir was formed in 1938 by the construction of Inks Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority. Located near Burnet, Texas, the lake serves to provide flood control in tandem with Lake Buchanan and features the smallest hydroelectric power plant on the Highland Lakes chain. Inks Lake was named for Roy B. Inks, one of the original board members of the Lower Colorado River Authority, and serves as a venue for outdoor recreation, including fishing, boating, swimming, camping, and picnicking.

Lake Marble Falls

Lake Marble Falls is a reservoir on the Colorado River in the Texas Hill Country in the United States. The reservoir was formed in 1951 by the construction of Max Starcke Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority. Originally named Marble Falls Dam, the dam was renamed in 1962 for Max Starcke, the second general director of the LCRA. Located near the town of Marble Falls, the lake is used as a venue for aquatic recreation and for the purpose of generating hydroelectric power. It is the newest and smallest of the Texas Highland Lakes.

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. [8]

Major tributaries

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. [9]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Colorado River
  2. 1 2 Google Earth elevation for GNIS coordinates.
  3. 1 2 3 4 Clay, Comer; Kleiner, Diana J. (1999-02-15). "Colorado River". The Handbook of Texas Online. The General Libraries at the University of Texas at Austin and the Texas State Historical Association . Retrieved 2006-07-22.
  4. 1 2 Kammerer, J.C. (1987). "Largest Rivers in the United States". United States Geological Survey . Retrieved 2006-07-15.
  5. "Colorado - Diccionario Inglés-Español WordReference.com".
  6. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg Ripley, George; Dana, Charles A., eds. (1879). "Colorado, a river of Texas". The American Cyclopædia .
  7. Hämäläinen, Pekka (2008). The Comanche Empire. Yale University Press. pp. 58–60. ISBN   978-0-300-12654-9. Online at Google Books
  8. "River Basin Map of Texas" (JPEG). Bureau of Economic Geology, University of Texas at Austin. 1996. Retrieved 2006-07-15.
  9. Rand McNally and Company. The road atlas, large scale '07 (Map). pp. 199-200. ISBN   9780528958342

Related Research Articles

Lower Colorado River Authority

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 reservoir

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 water reservoir on the Colorado River in Austin, Texas

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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.

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Canadian River river in Texas and Oklahoma

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Pedernales River river in the United States of America

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.

Area code 979

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White River (Texas) intermittent stream in Texas, United States

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Central Texas geographic region

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Yellow House Canyon

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Double Mountain Fork Brazos River river in United States

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North Fork Double Mountain Fork Brazos River river in the United States of America

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Salt Fork Brazos River river in the United States of America

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Duffys Peak mountain in United States of America

Duffy's Peak is a small hill or butte near the Salt Fork Brazos River in Garza County, Texas. Duffy's Peak extends less than 50 ft (15 m) above the river, yet despite its small size, it served as an important landmark for early surveyors of the region and is said to be named for a member of the original survey team who died and was buried nearby in the late 1870s.