Twenty-seven miles southeast of Tucumcari, New Mexico, Red River originates in the watershed of the Frio Draw on the Llano Estacado at an elevation of about 5000 feet. Flowing eastward through Palo Duro Canyon, it subsequently forms the border between Texas and Oklahoma, then turns southeast across Louisiana joining the Mississippi River at the northern boundary of the Florida Parishes. Its distinctive red color and rich alluvial valley have been noted since the earliest European explorations in the 17th century. Following the Louisiana Purchase, the U.S. sent the Freeman-Curtis Expedition in 1806, to explore Red River and refute Spanish border claims. The first steamboat, the "Enterprise", ascended the Red River to Alexandria in 1814, but transportation above Natchitoches was blocked by the Great Raft until cleared by Capt. Henry Shreve in 1833-38. (Continued on other side)
(Continued from other side)
During the Civil War, the Union's Red River Campaign was an important part of the Trans-Mississippi hostilities. The Great Raft gradually reformed but was cleared again in 1873. By the turn of the century, river transportation had succumbed to rail competition and silting due to flood control levees. For almost 100 years, commercial river transportation was non-existent until the Red River Waterway Project again made it feasible with a system of locks and dams. Lindy Claiborne Boggs Lock and Dam No. 1 at Lower Brouillette was dedicated November 9, 1984; John H. Overton Lock and Dam No. 2 at Ruby was dedicated May 26, 1992. Congress authorized funding for additional locks and dams for navigation to reach Shreveport-Bossier City.