Louisiana Geology

Special topics of interest about geological features of our state with short articles and wen links to more information


Photo courtesy of the State Library of Louisiana


The Red River Raft (or The Great Raft)

Accounts vary greatly, but "The Great Raft" was the name given to an enormous logjam or series of logjams in the Red River flood plain that from the onset of European settlement made the river unnavigable for commerce. These logjams filled virtually the entire flood plain for lengthy stretches from north Louisiana or southern Arkansas to parts south, affecting between 150 and 300 miles of the river's course. Captain Henry Miller Shreve, charged with clearing it, had for this purpose a fleet of "snag boats" (later including crane boats) run by crews who disentangled individual pieces and cut them into smaller parts. Explosives (initially TNT, later dynamite) were used in places to blast apart otherwise impenetrable masses of interlocking deadwood. Shreve completed his work in 1839 when it had proceeded as far north as the present city of Shreveport (a total of 71 miles?), and retired two years later.

More information on the Red River Raft from a relatively recent research report by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Albertson and Dunbar, 1993) may be accessed at:
The report's Summary and Conclusions states the following:
Formation of the Red River Raft during the late prehistoric and early historic time blocked riverflow on the Red River and created a series of large valley margin lakes. Caddo and Soda lake were formed as a result of the raft . . . Historic and geomorphic data indicate the lakes were formed less than 500 years ago.

Albertson, P. E., and J. B. Dunbar, 1993, Geomorphic investigation of Shreveport to Daingerfield Navigation Project: U.S. Army Engineer Waterways Experiment Station, Vicksburg, Mississippi, Technical report no. GL-93-31, 148 p.






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Last updated: 08/28/2009