Where the South Meets the West
The Red River begins in Palo Duro Canyon, just south of Amarillo, Texas. It forms the boundary between Texas and Oklahoma, then makes
a bend in the southwestern region of Arkansas and enters Louisiana. The river becomes navigable south of Shreveport and, after a series
of locks and dams, merges with the mighty Mississippi.
The landscapes, counties, parishes, towns, cities, and parks around the Red River are filled with important and tangible history that mirror
European westward migration. From Louisiana through Eastern Texas and Southeastern Oklahoma, a distinct "southern" flair is evident in
the towns, homes, and people. Further west up the river, open prairies and plains, bisected by the forbidding Cross Timbers, became the
domain of cowboys, the Plains Indians, and military forts.
The Red River truly reflects the historical and geographical region where the South met the West.
Two distinct eco-systems converge along the Red River Valley: the open plains of the west gradually give way to the piney woods of the
east. This topographical change is reflected in the history of the valley, where large cattle ranches upriver are the descendants of the
antebellum cotton plantations downriver.
|In case you're curious about my interests in the Red River Valley:
I have both professional and personal ties to the history along the Red River. The professional stems from my intense interest in
two areas: 1) Native American's cultural adaptations to the cattle drives ; 2) the location, economic, and ecological impacts of the
Red River Raft.
The personal comes from my father's family's history along the Red River. My father, grandparents, great grand parents, and several
grand uncles and aunts are buried along side the Red River in northern Louisiana. They emigrated up the river from Mississippi
(Natchez and Coles Creek Settlement) after the Civil War. I was born not far from the river in Paris, Texas, and have a lot of family
members who live in the Red River Valley to this day.
This river has defined my family and has captured my imagination!