The "Great Rafts" of Louisiana were log jams on the Red River. Really big log jams, that in all of North America, only occurred on this river! It is something that doesn't seem to be commonly known outside of Louisiana. Everyone should know about them because the removal of the "rafts" set in motion a chain reaction of events that acted like dominoes falling. The last domino is yet to fall, and when and if it does, it will cause major problems for the entire United States. More about that possibility in future blog posts as I move to campgrounds closer to the location of that possible eventuality.
First a little history. This is where non-history buffs click the X in the upper right hand corner. :). The Red River is about 1,350 miles in length with its source in the Texas panhandle and its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico near present day Morgan City, Louisiana. If you look on a map, it is the squiggly line that forms the boundary between Oklahoma and Texas. In Louisiana it runs diagonally across the state from the northwest corner to the southeastern part. It gets it's name from the dark red sediments from Texas and Oklahoma. The banks of the river, for almost it's entire run, are highly erodible which caused the Great Raft of North Louisiana.
|This is a picture I took last October. It is the Red River in the Texas Panhandle near its beginning. Notice the width and lack of trees for the entire width.|
When I moved to northwest Louisiana in the early 80's, I heard about the Great Raft and the man who removed it. Some of the things told to me were hard to believe and I thought at first people were BS'ing me. But after checking it out, it was true. The raft started forming 800 to 900 years ago. By the 1800's it had reached a length of about 150 miles. It was said you could walk across the river without getting your feet wet, if you dared. The raft was a "living thing" in that more trees were being added to the upstream part than was decaying and floating downstream on the lower part. As the flood waters came, the raft acted as a dam and backed water into low lying areas which created lakes. Some of those lakes are still around such as Cross Lake, Caddo Lake, Lake Bistineau, Wallace Lake and Black Lake. Once the log jam was cleared, these lakes would have drained had a dam not been built to retain the water.
|This is a picture I "borrowed" from the internet showing the Great Raft. Imagine 150 miles of this. Wow.|
The removal of this raft was the first domino to fall. Interestingly, the second domino would be knocked over by the same man. I will visit the place of the second domino next week.
|This has been my campsite for the last 3 months. It has been a good one, but is time to move on.|
Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.