Saturday, January 30, 2016

The "Great Raft" of Louisiana

Location: Highway 509 RV Park, (el. 250 ft); Mansfield, Louisiana

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 reason the log jam needed to be removed was because the lands in northern Texas, all of Oklahoma and parts of Arkansas were landlocked without the river. The raft blocked the river so completely, not even a canoe could pass. This lack of a means to reach those areas by water got the attention of the U.S. Congress who authorized its removal. Several people tried and failed to remove it. Finally Captain Henry Miller Shreve designed and built a "snag boat" which removed the raft in a 3 year period between 1835 and 1838. He removed it to a point just north of what became known as Shreveport, Louisiana. This allowed navigation on the Red River and commerce grew tremendously. Needless to say, this made him a very popular man around this area. 

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. 
 I have been preparing to leave for the last few days and should be ready to pull out shortly before noon on Monday, February 1st. It is a good time to leave because that tree this is overhanging Liberty is a Gum Tree. A Gum Tree produces "gum balls" which are about the size of a golf ball. The only problem they cause is they will hurt your foot if you step on them barefooted. But I have found another problem with them recently. As they fall from the tree, they land on the roof and make a loud noise inside. I have checked the roof and they cause no damage other than making me jump when they hit the roof. Oh well, "into each life 'little gum balls' must fall". :) 

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.

Monday, January 25, 2016

The Explorations Begin Again Next Week

Location: Highway 509 RV Park; Mansfield, Louisiana

I love my family with all of my heart and would do anything for them, but they have their own lives to live. My three children are scattered from north to south Louisiana with the youngest being 30 years of age. Sadly, none of them need their Daddy on a daily basis like it was when they were kids. It's a tough thing to accept when you realize your job as a parent goes from being 24 hours a day, every day, to being a few hours every so often. But that is the way life is, at least in my family and I have accepted it. 

Before I retired, my job kept me very busy for about 50 hours a week. Since I retired, traveling has kept be busy and allowed me to see new things on a regular basis. I have been stationary for three months while celebrating and enjoying family Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is now time to move on down the road. I will be hitching Liberty up and her tires will feel pavement again next week.

There is an Engineering Conference I need/want to attend in Baton Rouge, Louisiana at the end of February. So, my plan is to see some parts of Louisiana between now and then. I will slowly make my way to Baton Rouge with a few sights to see along the way. Some of them I have seen before but hopefully will be seeing through refreshed eyes. Other parts will be be new to me and I will explore them as if I were a Yankee visiting the south. My accent may give me away though. :). One such place I plan to go, unless something changes, is Grand Isle, Louisiana which is about 40 miles south-southwest of New Orleans. I should be there in a couple of weeks and plan to stay maybe 7 days. Another new place to explore will be the areas either side of the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. 

After leaving the conference I will slowly head towards Charleston, South Carolina. It is one of the places I wanted to see when I first hit the road after retirement but my plans changed and I went in another direction. We will see if I make it there this time. 

Some family pictures:

My daughter, grand-daughter and son-in-law.

My son and grand-son

My son, sharpening his shooting skills on the shooting range. 

I like this picture a lot. It is of my daughter, grand-daughter and son as they walked around the neighborhood in which they grew up. The streets they walked this day saw them riding their first bike in the past and so much more. 

This is my grand-daughter. She was running by me and I would grab her now and then. The interesting thing I noticed after I downloaded the picture is the "guardian angel shadow" behind her.  

This is one of the times I grabbed her up and tickled her.

This is my grand-son enjoying the freedom of riding his bike, without training wheels, around the same neighborhood his father rode his first bike. 

I'm sure my excitement and nervousness will build between now and pulling out, but that's part of the traveling life I've chosen.

Ya'll take care of each other. I'll Cya down the road.