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Bends in rivers

Posted by jgoodman 
Bends in rivers
January 16, 2015 01:14PM
This could be the Red River, Trinity, or Rio Grand….any river and I'm sure there are some "earth science" types here that can answer this silly question. Rivers tend to have kinks and curves referred to as "ox bows". I know the derivation of the term. What would happen if one excavated a channel through the base of these tortuous curves and allowed the river to flow in more of a straight line? This is O.T., but please indulge me. Jim



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/16/2015 01:15PM by jgoodman.
Re: Bends in rivers
January 16, 2015 02:01PM
That's what they planned to do with the Trinity Barge Canal project of the early '70s.
Re: Bends in rivers
January 16, 2015 07:49PM
Didn't know that. Was that the 1870's? Jim
Re: Bends in rivers
January 16, 2015 08:20PM
I think it was 1972. It depended on a bond election that failed.

The plan was to gorge the trinity out and make a concrete canal between Dallas and Houston.
Re: Bends in rivers
January 17, 2015 09:15AM
The Corps of Engineers has done that for years along several rivers in the effort to "tame" them. Hasn't worked all that well.
Re: Bends in rivers
January 17, 2015 09:59AM
I suppose the only way to "straighten" a river out would be to use a series of canals and locks. To do so on the Trinity would require $$$$$s. Jim
Re: Bends in rivers
January 17, 2015 11:41AM
jgoodman Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This could be the Red River, Trinity, or Rio
> Grand….any river and I'm sure there are some
> "earth science" types here that can answer this
> silly question. Rivers tend to have kinks and
> curves referred to as "ox bows". I know the
> derivation of the term. What would happen if one
> excavated a channel through the base of these
> tortuous curves and allowed the river to flow in
> more of a straight line? This is O.T., but please
> indulge me. Jim

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, river authorities such as the Trinity River Authority, and other governmental agencies have frequently performed such cuts, usually as a part of either flood control or navigation projects. Left to its own devices over time, the river would restore its sinuous pathway given hydrological "laws" that control the movement of water downslope over time. Maintenance by the agency prevents a managed river from restoring its natural flow pattern.

Interestingly (or not) governmentese labels these modified streams as "channelized," and the excavation itself as "channelization." Why not simply "channeled" and "channeling"?

There are numerous examples in the metroplex, including the lower reaches of numerous creeks such as Ten Mile Creek and Five Mile Creek.

Dave McNeely
Re: Bends in rivers
January 17, 2015 11:16PM
And the Trinity River, including the Elm and West Forks, through Dallas 1929-30. While the primary goal was flood control the levees also reclaimed thousands of acres for commercial development. There were smaller projects on the West Fork in Fort Worth and the lower East Fork in Kaufman County around 1915, and the Clear Fork in Fort Worth after the 1949 floods.

Locks and dams would not be a necessity for just straightening, but they would for barge traffic to overcome elevation changes. Other than a lack of political will and funding, one of them main challenges for the Trinity was the lack of an adequate year round water supply. There was a proposal just before the project was abandoned during WWI to tap into the Red River. It would have only required a short aqueduct in Cooke County to reach the Elm Fork.
Re: Bends in rivers
January 18, 2015 10:53AM
The Trinity River was navigable up to Seagoville, TX when the water "was up".
The first electrical power plant in Texas was built in Trinidad, TX because it had navigable waters up this close to Dallas, TX
Dallas Power and Light now had a reliable source of electricity.
.
Re: Bends in rivers
January 18, 2015 11:32AM
So you could navigate the Trinity from the Gulf up to So. Dallas Co.? I've seen old pictures of barges on the log-choked Trinity. When did that cease to be practicable? Was it for cargo or were there passengers? Jim
Re: Bends in rivers
January 19, 2015 06:02AM
I wouldn't say it was ever practicable but it was possible but with much difficulty and delay. There was also an excursion boat that made regular trips between Dallas and McCommas Bluff around 1900.

You'll find several articles in "Legacies" on the Portal to Texas History website This is probably the most comprehensive:
Navigating the Trinity

and on the Trinity Trails site: Dallas Trinity Trails

and a couple on the locks and dams here: DFW Urban Wildlife

M C



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/19/2015 06:12AM by M C Toyer.
Re: Bends in rivers
January 20, 2015 11:58AM
Campbell Loughmiller and a canoe full of kids made a successful navigation of the Trinity River starting at Camp Woodland Springs near the present day corner of Jim Miller and Loop 12....all the way to Trinity Bay in June of 1954.

Might be a shade easier these days since the river has been straightened out in spots and the snags are probably not as bad.

A solid predictable flow of water during a wetter than normal year would probably prove to be the best option. Once you get past Trinidad, Texas, the river widens somewhat and the snags and problematic locks are not an issue.

Best way to run it would likely be in a canoe or very small jon boat with a motor. Purists might not like the idea but it would sure get you past some mighty boring river miles.
Re: Bends in rivers
January 20, 2015 12:07PM
In regards to oxbows and cutoffs, the two most recent examples of human changes to the Trinity River channel in Dallas County are under the I-45 bridge and the channelization of the river near Dowdy Ferry and I-20.

The I-45 re-route was not done that long ago.

In Dallas, downstream of the Corinth Street Viaduct, the bedrock appears with regularity which keeps the Trinity in a fairly confined set of boundaries. Older and more ancient meanders are easy to find if one knows where to look. It has always been my suspicion that Lemmon Lake off Simpson Stuart Road is an old oxbow. A known archeological site of some thousand years old sits west of the old lake, east of the railroad tracks and just north of Simpson Stuart road.

Lancaster Club Lake and the Fin and Feather Club were both oxbows too, it seems.
Re: Bends in rivers
December 08, 2017 10:26AM


Gathering all the various surveys from both sides of the Trinity downstream of Dowdy's Ferry I stumbled upon references to a "raft". The map above is dated March 1847 from the Sampson Survey on the west side of the river. There are some inconsistent surveys made in this area which led to problems in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with land grants and patents. The raft is noted on at least two surveys by different survey crews which would validate it's existence.

The raft which sat north of what is now Goat Island may perhaps offer insight into the origins of Parson's Slough and some of the other sloughs in that area. Walking this autumn(2017) I have made some detailed surveys of private land in this vicinity on the Mckinney, Baker, Shaw, Shelton grants. Very interesting to read in particular the Baker grant with maps showing an old slough which was mistaken for the river itself.

I do not believe this to be the raft that Bryan and Beeman attempted to burn in 1843. Descriptions of a circa 1852 attempt to flat bottom float cotton from Dallas to points south do not recall this raft which would be at the head of Goat Island. The party camped there on the second night of their voyage and did not encounter a noted raft for another 20 miles downstream.
Re: Bends in rivers
December 23, 2017 07:45PM
Ben wrote, regarding the Trinity River: "Older and more ancient meanders are easy to find if one knows where to look."

Of course, the original Trinity River channel still exists as a series of oxbows in West Dallas, and swales and wetlands along Irving Blvd and Industrial Blvd represent it as well. There are also oxbows left from the original Elm Fork in the Record Crossing and Mockingbird Lane area, though most of those are again swales and wetlands rather than true lakes. I think some of the wetlands and oxbow lakes of the Elm Fork have been incorporated into "water features" of the industrial area along I-35 as well. Areal views show the oxbows in West Dallas well. When I was a boy, in the 1950s, my father and I used to fish in one of the oxbows left outside the floodway somewhere along Canada Drive or maybe further west, off of Westmoreland. We caught mostly catfish, but some largemouth bass and crappie. I think these West Dallas oxbows are responsible for some flooding that engulfs the area during exceptionally rainy periods.

Dave McNeely
Re: Bends in rivers
December 26, 2017 07:57AM
The Trinity River is about 10 miles West of here. I am always amazed at the speed of the flow of it.
Swirls,etc. Must have a speed of say 8mph, or more.
Re: Bends in rivers
December 26, 2017 08:19AM
I guess the "oxbow" that Dave is referring to is an old isolated section of the original channel. Is such a body of water also called a slough or slue? I would imagine that they tend to dry out if there isn't copious rain. Long ago I used to fish in similar depressions south of I-30 near Irving, but I think these were gravel pits. Jim
Re: Bends in rivers
December 26, 2017 10:24AM
Yes, Jim, what is left of the old river channels after the floodway was constructed.

They could be called "sloughs." I believe the word slough as typically used in Texas could refer to an oxbow lake, a relief channel of a stream, or any other rather linear body of water not directly connected to a stream, but related to it. At least that's how my father used the term, and in fact he called the old river channel segments sloughs, sometimes with the modifier of "Trinity River" slough, thus relating them to the river. But he had a tendency to call the low gradient, slow moving streams typically called "bayous" in Louisiana and East Texas "sloughs" as well.

The water bodies in the Elm Fork bottoms near Irving were mostly gravel pits and borrow pits, as I recall. They did not have the linear or curvilinear shape of oxbows or old river channels as I recall. My family used to seine gar and other fish from such water bodies back in the fifties, and my father sometimes incorporated them into his produce business, selling the fish to independent grocers who catered mainly to poorer residents. I doubt that he had a commercial fishing license. We also ate some of those fish, though we tended to avoid carpsuckers. In fact, the only store that would take those was the Alamo Market on Singleton Blvd. I imagine they marketed them as buffalo, though to the practiced eye the two are different in appearance.

Dave McNeely
Re: Bends in rivers
January 07, 2018 12:28PM
HI Dave,
I have seen Buffalo fish sold along side of Hwy 31 in Trinidad, TX.
I drive by there going over to Corsicana.
Freshly caught, laid on crushed ice.
The slabs were pure white and several inches or more thick.
The sellers were local fishermen of color and there customers were local residents.
Looked tasty and delicious.
Re: Bends in rivers
January 07, 2018 02:03PM
Think Buffalo is boney is it not? I don't know how you would prepare it. Jim
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