Ouachita_Header_Main.GIF (8086 bytes)


Last Updated:

Thursday, May 24, 2001

Feather2.GIF (57892 bytes)
The "Washita"
was named by
the Indians that
lived along its banks







































































































































Portraits of the Ouachita
Fridays: 8:00 & 10:30 p.m.
Sunday's: 1:00 p.m.

(c) 2000 Ouachita River Foundation


Feather2.GIF (57892 bytes)
The Indians called
it "Washita"
The river of
Sparkling Silver Water








Feather2.GIF (57892 bytes)

The Ouachita has a Rich and Colorful History




















Feather2.GIF (57892 bytes)

Many areas along the
Ouachita River remain
much the same today
as when the Indians
walked its banks





History of the Ouachita River


  Poems have been written, and songs have been composed and sung by hearts,
that have been stirred by this unique river... and, stories and legends have
been told and passed down for generations about the life and times
along the OUACHITA.


The history of the OUACHITA is as unique and diverse as its beauty.
Few rivers can boast of having such a rich and colorful history
surrounding it. as does the OUACHITA.

Feather2.GIF (57892 bytes)


The Indians were the first to inhabit the Ouachita Valley. Major Indian
tribes living along the banks of the Ouachita included the Washita,
Caddo, Osage, Tensas, Chickasaw, and Choctaw. Time brought
about the disappearance of these first inhabitants, as French settlers
moved into the Ouachita Valley in the early 1700s; Yet, evidence of
these various tribes's unique culture can still be found, today, in the
numerous Indian mounds found all along the banks of the OUACHITA.
The largest Indian mound ever discovered in all of North America was
located on the OUACHITA RIVER. This enormous mound measured
over 400 feet square, 40 feet high, with a center mound almost
80 feet tall...., but... like so much of our past, this mound was tragically
destroyed in the 1930's , when the state built a bridge on the site.
Vast amounts of evidence of the enormous Indian population that once
inhabited the Ouachita Valley have been unearthed... such as
pottery, beads, spear and arrowheads... and in many places along
this river's banks, even today, arrowheads can still be found.


Flags of many different nations have flown over
the Ouachita Valley in the past 200 years

royalspain.jpg (3281 bytes)


The Spanish were the first Europeans to actually explore
the Ouachita River Valley. Hernando DeSoto, credited for
discovering the Mississippi River, was recorded as having
walked the entire length of the Ouachita River from
Hot Springs , Arkansas to Jonesville,  Louisiana.     
In his travels, DeSoto, and his men had many encounters
with the Indians living along the OUACHITA.
Most of what we know about the Indians in the
Ouachita Valley came from DeSoto's records,
and from other explorers after him.

fluerwhite.gif (1699 bytes)


The French were the first to settle the banks of the OUACHITA,
and it was the French, who had the greatest impact and influence
on the overallculture in the Ouachita Valley. The French influence
can still beevidenced and felt today.   Many of our areas bayous
and river lakes, such as Lake D'Arbonne, Bayou Bartholomew,
Bayou Desiard, Bayou LaFouche, Bayou Deloutre, Bayou Lapine,
Bayou Prairion,  and  Bayou Frangueur  to  name a few are
      still known and called by the names given them
by the first French settlers.

starspangled.jpg (3077 bytes)


When the United States made the Louisiana Purchase with
France in 1803 ... the rivers in the purchase were all part of
a vast uncharted wilderness. Two areas immediately chosen
by President , Thomas Jefferson , to be explored were the
  Missouri River Expedition, which became known as the
famous "Lewis and Clark" expedition; ... and
the Hunter-Dunbar Expedition commissioned to explore
and chart the Ouachita River. Both expeditions began in
May of 1804. The Hunter-Dunbar expedition charted the
entire length of the OUACHITA from Jonesville, Louisiana,
to Hot Springs, Arkansas, which covered a distance of more
than 500 river miles.

starsbarslg.gif (2285 bytes)


During the years of the Civil War the OUACHITA RIVER was
used to transport confederate soldiers to their different staging
areas. The Confederate Army built cannon emplacements in
and along the banks of the OUACHITA, in an effort, to stop the
Union forces, who also, used the OUACHITA as an invasion route.
Civil War gunboat activity began on the OUACHITA in May, 1863.
Union Commander, S. E. Woodworth, was ordered to seize
the Confederate ships, The Webb, and The Queen of the West...
but, ... Confederate troops firing cannons from Ft. Beauregard,
situated high above the OUACHITA at Harisonburg, Louisiana,
completely stopped the Union advances and rendered this
Union mission a failure.


Sb3.jpg (31124 bytes)

So numerous were the steamboats that plyed the OUACHITA,
and its tributaries, that it would be impossible to number them all.
From November to July, steamboats could easily ply the
OUACHITA as far as Monroe, and during high water could steam
on, as far as, Arkadelphia, Arkansas. These boats could carry
as much as 1,000 bales of cotton at a time ... with larger boats
carrying as much as 5,000 bales.

Sb1.jpg (17987 bytes)

Steamboats became an integral part of the history connected
with this magnificent river. For almost a century from
1819 - 1910 , with the exception of the Civil War years,
the OUACHITA was the great highway of commerce and
transportation for the entire Ouachita Valley.

   Sb2.jpg (18869 bytes)

The arrival of a steamboat was always cause for celebration.
Long repeated blast from the boat's powerful whistle, often
accompanied by the firing of a cannon , caused people to drop
everything... and run to meet the boat. The Steamboat era
was by far the grandest and most colorful in the
Ouachita's history.


Rare plants have been discovered growing in certain areas along
the banks of the OUACHITA. Botanist claim that these plants are
extremely rare, and can be found no where else in
all of North America;

Geologist and Paleontologists have located and unearthed,
in abundance, along certain stretches of the OUACHITA , whale bones,
sharks teeth, fossil finds, and other marine life, including various kinds
of seashell; which, leads them to believe that the Ouachita Valley,
in some past age, was part of the Gulf of Mexico. Many of these
unusual finds have been studied and written about,
and have proved very beneficial to science..

More History