Great Raft

Last updated
Great Raft
Datec.12th century – 1838
VenueRed and Atchafalaya Rivers
Location North America
Type Log jam

The Great Raft was a gigantic log jam or series of "rafts" that clogged the Red and Atchafalaya Rivers and was unique in North America in terms of its scale.

Contents

Origin

The Great Raft probably began forming in the 12th century. [1] It grew from its upper end, while decaying or washing out at the lower end. This led to its peak length spanning more than 160 miles (260 km) in the early 1830s. The raft, at one point, extended for 165 miles (266 km) from Loggy Bayou to Carolina Bluffs. [2] The Great Raft formed part of the mythology of the local Caddo tribe [3] and protected them from competing tribes, as well as intermittently flooding land and making it fertile for agriculture. [4]

Characteristics

At the beginning of the 19th century, the raft extended from Campti, Louisiana, to around Shreveport, Louisiana. The raft blocked the mouth of Twelve Mile Bayou, impeding settlement in the area west of Shreveport. There were many smaller logjams on the Red River. [2]

The raft raised the banks of the river, forming bayous and making several lakes, called the Great Raft Lakes and including Caddo and Cross Lakes, along the lower reaches of Red River tributaries. [4]

Removal

Steamboat builder and river captain Henry Miller Shreve (17851851) began systematically removing the Great Raft, a task that was continued by others until the latter part of the 19th century. For his efforts, the city of Shreveport was named after him.

When Shreve began work, the raft was 8 miles (13 km) directly below to 17 miles (27 km) directly above Shreveport. [2]

Shreve had removed the raft up to the mouth of Twelvemile Bayou in April 1835. [2] Shreve concluded this work in 1838, having removed the last impediment to navigation on the Red River. [2]

Second Great Raft

Although Shreve had completely removed the raft, another formed farther up the river. The new foot was at the head of the old raft near today's Belcher, Louisiana. [2] This second raft gradually extended until it reached the Arkansas state line, when, in 1873, Lieutenant Eugene Woodruff succeeded in removing it. [2] [5]

Consequences

The removal of the log jams hastened the capture of the Mississippi River's waters by the Atchafalaya River and forced the US Army Corps of Engineers to build the multibillion-dollar Old River Control Structure.

See also

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Atchafalaya River

The Atchafalaya River is a 137-mile-long (220 km) 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, and is the fifth largest river in North America, by discharge. The name Atchafalaya comes from Choctaw for 'long river', from hachcha, 'river', and falaya, 'long'.

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Wax Lake

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Caddo Lake State Park

Caddo Lake State Park is a state park located in the piney woods ecoregion of eastern Texas and operated as a wildlife management area (WMA), Caddo Lake is the lake that the state park encompasses, and is one of only a handful of natural lakes in Texas. The park consists of 8,253 acres (3,340 ha) west of the lake itself, in Harrison County, near Karnack, Texas. The lake and surrounding area was drilled for petroleum in the 1900s. The lake was created by a gigantic log jam known as the Great Raft.

Sherburne Complex Wildlife Management Area

The Sherburne Complex is a joint land management venture of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that began in 1983. The area consists of 44,000 acres (180 km2), and is managed by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. The complex is located in the Morganza Flood way system of the Atchafalaya Basin about 30 miles (48 km) west of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and actually extends a little south of the I-10 Atchafalaya Basin Bridge at Whiskey Bay, Louisiana. The bridge crosses the Whiskey Bay Pilot Channel. Located on the graveled LA 975, the west boundary is on the east side of the Atchafalaya River with the east boundary being the East Protection Levee. The complex stretches just north of old highway 190, and a short distance to the south of I-10. The nearest town is Krotz Springs to the north off US 190.

The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Shreveport, Louisiana, USA.

References

  1. "The Great Raft". Discovering Lewis & Clark. Retrieved November 25, 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Holbrook, Stewart (2007). Lost Men of American History. Read Books. p. 404. ISBN   978-1-4067-3205-4.
  3. Pels, Monica (2004). "Great Raft". Parish of Caddo. Archived from the original on August 28, 2008. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  4. 1 2 "Great Raft History". www.InvasivesWatch.org. Caddo Lake Institute. 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2014.
  5. Bagur, Jacques (2001). A History of Navigation on Cypress Bayou and the Lakes. Denton, Texas, United States of America: University of North Texas Press. p. 821. ISBN   978-1-57441-135-5.