Tierra Blanca Creek

Last updated
Tierra Blanca Creek
Buffalo Lake Texas Canyon 2009.jpg
Canyon carved by Tierra Blanca Creek
Map of the Red River watershed
Country United States
Physical characteristics
  location Curry County, New Mexico
  coordinates 34°49′45″N103°13′22″W / 34.8292321°N 103.2227271°W / 34.8292321; -103.2227271 [1]
  elevation4,524 ft (1,379 m)
Randall County, Texas
35°00′10″N101°54′09″W / 35.002778°N 101.902500°W / 35.002778; -101.902500 Coordinates: 35°00′10″N101°54′09″W / 35.002778°N 101.902500°W / 35.002778; -101.902500 [1]
3,471 ft (1,058 m)
Length109 mi (175 km)

Tierra Blanca Creek is an ephemeral stream about 75 mi (121 km) long, heading in Curry County, New Mexico, flowing east-northeast across northern portions of the Llano Estacado to join Palo Duro Creek to form the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River southeast of Amarillo, Texas. [2] [3] Overall, Tierra Blanca Creek descends 1,050 ft (320 m) from its headwaters in Eastern New Mexico to its confluence with Palo Duro Creek at the head of Palo Duro Canyon.


The creek's water levels are variable, and it is not unusual for some parts of the creek to be reduced to a small trickle or dry completely during frequent periods of drought in the semi-arid plateau of the northwestern Texas Panhandle. At the same time, as the sole creek bed draining a large region with frequent violent thunderstorms, it is also the site of significant occasional Flash floods. Its diminishing flow has been attributed to damming and agricultural pumping of the Ogallala Aquifer.

Tierra Blanca Creek was historically significant as the major running water source for the XIT Ranch, one of the largest cattle ranches in American history. It also contributed to the formation of Palo Duro Canyon, the second largest canyon in the United States. [3]

The Name

Tierra Blanca is Spanish for "white earth". One theory suggests that the name refers to white deposits of Tertiary clay that are found along the sides of the valley. [4] Another theory suggests that it was the exposed traces of white caliche along the valley walls that gave this stream its Spanish name. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

Red River of the South Major river in the southern United States

The Red River, or sometimes the Red River of the South, is a major river in the Southern United States. It was named for the red-bed country of its watershed. It is one of several rivers with that name. Although it was once a tributary of the Mississippi River, the Red River is now a tributary of the Atchafalaya River, a distributary of the Mississippi that flows separately into the Gulf of Mexico. It is connected to the Mississippi River by the Old River Control Structure.

Palo Duro Canyon canyon system in the US state of Texas

Palo Duro Canyon is a canyon system of the Caprock Escarpment located in the Texas Panhandle near the cities of Amarillo and Canyon. As the second-largest canyon in the United States, it is roughly 120 mi (190 km) long and has an average width of 6 mi (9.7 km), but reaches a width of 20 mi (32 km) at places. Its depth is around 820 ft (250 m), but in some locations, it increases to 1,000 ft (300 m). Palo Duro Canyon has been named "The Grand Canyon of Texas" both for its size and for its dramatic geological features, including the multicolored layers of rock and steep mesa walls similar to those in the Grand Canyon.

Texas Panhandle Region in Texas, United States

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. It is adjacent to the Oklahoma Panhandle. The Handbook of Texas defines the southern border of Swisher County as the southern boundary of the Texas Panhandle region.

Llano Estacado Southwestern United States in New Mexico and 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).

West Texas Region in Texas, United States

West Texas is a loosely defined part of the U.S. state of Texas, generally encompassing the arid and semi-arid lands west of a line drawn between the cities of Wichita Falls, Abilene, and Del Rio.

Feather River river in the United States of America

The Feather River is the principal tributary of the Sacramento River, in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California. The river's main stem is about 73 miles (117 km) long. Its length to its most distant headwater tributary is just over 210 miles (340 km). The main stem Feather River begins in Lake Oroville, where its four long tributary forks join together—the South Fork, Middle Fork, North Fork, and West Branch Feather Rivers. These and other tributaries drain part of the northern Sierra Nevada, and the extreme southern Cascades, as well as a small portion of the Sacramento Valley. The total drainage basin is about 6,200 square miles (16,000 km2), with approximately 3,604 square miles (9,330 km2) above Lake Oroville.

Caprock Escarpment

The Caprock Escarpment is a term used in West Texas and Eastern New Mexico to describe the geographical transition point between the level High Plains of the Llano Estacado and the surrounding rolling terrain. In Texas, the escarpment stretches around 200 mi (320 km) south-southwest from the northeast corner of the Texas Panhandle near the Oklahoma border. The escarpment is especially notable, from north to south, in Briscoe, Floyd, Motley, Crosby, Dickens, Garza, and Borden Counties. In New Mexico, a prominent escarpment exists along the northernmost extension of the Llano Estacado, especially to the south of San Jon and Tucumcari, both in Quay County, New Mexico. Along the western edge of the Llano Estacado, the portion of the escarpment that stretches from Caprock to Maljamar, New Mexico, is called the Mescalero Ridge.

Beaver River (Oklahoma) river in Oklahoma

The Beaver River is an intermittent river, 280 miles (450 km) long, in western Oklahoma and northern Texas in the United States. It is a tributary of the North Canadian River, draining an area of 11,690 square miles (30,300 km2) in a watershed that extends to northeastern New Mexico and includes most of the Oklahoma Panhandle.

Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River river in the United States of America

Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River is a sandy-braided stream about 120 mi (193 km) long, formed at the confluence of Palo Duro Creek and Tierra Blanca Creek, about 1.8 mi (2.9 km) northeast of Canyon in Randall County, Texas, and flowing east-southeastward to the Red River about 1 mi (2 km) east of the 100th meridian, 8 mi (13 km) south-southwest of Hollis, Oklahoma.

Pease River river in the United States of America

The Pease River is a river in Texas, 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 Henderson Railroad Company; it was named after Texas Governor Elisha M. Pease. In December 1860, the Texas Rangers recaptured Cynthia Ann Parker and her daughter from the Comanche Indians at an engagement along the river.

Cimarron River (Canadian River tributary) tributary of the Canadian River

The Cimarron River, flowing entirely in New Mexico, was also known as La Flecha or Semarone. Its headwaters are Moreno, Sixmile, and Cieneguilla creeks in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, which feed into Eagle Nest Dam. From the dam, it runs for 60 miles (97 km) to below the city of Springer, New Mexico in the Taylor Springs area, where it flows into the Canadian River, the southwestern-most major tributary flowing into the Mississippi River via the Arkansas River sub-basin.

Masterson, Texas Unincorporated community in Texas, United States

Masterson is an unincorporated community in southern Moore County, Texas, United States of the Texas Panhandle. It lies along the concurrent U.S. Routes 87 and 287, south of the city of Dumas, the county seat of Moore County. Its elevation is 3,704 feet (1,129 m). Although Masterson is unincorporated, it has a post office, with a ZIP code of 79058.

White River (Texas) intermittent stream in 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).

Mulberry Creek (Red River tributary) river in United States of America

Mulberry Creek is an intermittent stream about 58 mi (93 km) long, formed as a shallow draw on the high plains of the Llano Estacado in Armstrong County, Texas, and flowing southeastward to join the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River in Hall County, Texas.

Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge

Buffalo Lake National Wildlife Refuge is a protected area in Randall County in the Texas Panhandle. Its shortgrass prairies spill into marshes, woodlands, riparian habitat, croplands, and water-carved canyon walls that together form 7,664 acres (31.02 km2) of homes for migratory and year-round wildlife. The area forms a habitat for black-tailed prairie dogs and burrowing owls, among many other species. Some 175 acres (0.71 km2) of the refuge carries the designation of National Natural Landmark.

Jemez River river in Sandoval County, New Mexico, United States

The Jemez River is a tributary of the Rio Grande in eastern Sandoval County, New Mexico, United States.

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

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.

Salt Fork Brazos River river in the United States of America

The Salt Fork Brazos River is a braided, highly intermittent stream about 150 mi (240 km) long, heading along the edge of the Llano Estacado about 26 mi (42 km) east-southeast of Lubbock, Texas. From its source, it flows generally east-southeastward to join the Double Mountain Fork to form the Brazos River about 12 mi (19 km) west-northwest of Haskell, Texas. The Salt Fork stretches across portions of Crosby, Garza, Kent, and Stonewall counties of West Texas.

Little Red River (Texas) river in United States of America

The Little Red River is an intermittent stream about 30 mi (48 km) long, formed at the confluence of the North Prong and South Prong Little Red River in Briscoe County, Texas, and flowing east-northeastward to join the Prairie Dog Town Fork Red River in Hall County, Texas.


  1. 1 2 U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Tierra Blanca Creek
  2. "An Analysis of Texas Waterways" . Retrieved 2006-05-04.
  3. 1 2 Tierra Blanca Creek from the Handbook of Texas Online
  4. Gould, Charles Newton (1907). The geology and water resources of the western portion of the Panhandle of Texas. Water Supply Paper 191. United States Geological Survey. p. 12.
  5. Morris, John Miller (2009). Taming the Land: the Lost Postcard Photographs of the Texas High Plains. Texas A&M University Press. p. 179.