Trinity River (Texas)

Trinity River (Texas)

The Trinity River is a 710-mile long river that flows entirely within the U.S. state of Texas. It rises in extreme north Texas, a few miles south of the Red River. Its headwaters are separated from the Red River basin by the high bluffs on the south side of the Red River.

Sieur de LaSalle in 1687 called the stream the "River of Canoes". The name "Trinity" came three years later in 1690 from Alonso De León, who called the stream the "La Santísima Trinidad" ("the Most Holy Trinity"). ["Handbook of Texas Online", s.v. " [ Trinity River] "] It is the second longest river entirely within one state in the country, trailing only Alaska's Kuskokwim River. Official river lengths always include the longest main watercourse/ tributary, in this case the West Fork, bringing the Trinity's total length to 710 miles. [USGS and World Facts and Figures (John Wiley and Sons); the very beginning of the Colorado River (Texas) is a few miles within New Mexico.]


The Trinity has four forks: the Clear Fork, the Elm Fork, the West Fork, and the East Fork, each of which is considered part of the Trinity. The West Fork flows eastward through the city of Fort Worth and man-made Lake Worth while the Clear Fork flows southeastward in its upper part, then northeastward through Fort Worth; the two forks meet near downtown. The Elm Fork flows south from near Gainesville and east of the city of Denton. Those two rivers merge as they enter the city of Dallas and form the Trinity River proper. The East Fork (on old maps the Bois-Arc River) begins near McKinney, Texas and joins the Trinity River just southeast of Dallas.

The Trinity then flows southeastward from Dallas across a fertile floodplain and pine forests of eastern Texas, many of which were settled during the period of the Republic of Texas. The Trinity crosses Texas State Highway 31 in Henderson County, near where the first county seat, Buffalo, was established. Roughly convert|65|mi|km|0 north of the mouth, an earthen dam was built in 1968 to form Lake Livingston. It flows onward south, into the Trinity Bay, an arm of Galveston Bay, an inlet of the Gulf of Mexico, east of the city of Houston.

Public works projects

Plans for a shipping channel along the length of the Trinity River were scrapped, as they would have required extensive dredging to make the river navigable, though several overpasses were built at very high clearances in anticipation of the channel being built. The Trinity River Corridor Project is underway, which is intended to transform the Trinity River flood zone in downtown Dallas into the nation's largest urban park, featuring three signature bridges designed by acclaimed architect Santiago Calatrava. []

A similar project is planned by the Tarrant Regional Water District, City of Fort Worth, Tarrant County, Streams & Valleys Inc, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to develop an area north of "downtown" as "uptown" along the Trinity River. This plan promotes a large mixed use development adjacent to the central city area of Fort Worth, with a goal to prevent urban sprawl by promoting the growth of a healthy, vibrant urban core. The Trinity River Vision lays the groundwork to enable Fort Worth's central business district to double in size over the next forty years. []


Major flooding occurred on the Trinity River in the years 1844, 1866, 1871, and 1890, but a major event in the spring of 1908 set in motion the harnessing of the river. On 26 May 1908, the Trinity River reached a depth of convert|52.6|ft|m|2 and a width of convert|1.5|mi|km|1.cite book |last=Payne |first=Darwin |title= Dallas, an illustrated history |year=1982 |publisher=Windsor Publications |location=Woodland Hills, California |id= ISBN 0-89781-034-1 |pages=119-155 |chapter= Chapter V: A New Century, A New Dallas] Five people died, 4,000 were left homeless, and property damages were estimated at $2.5 million.

cquote|Now the wreckage of a shed or outhouse would move by, followed by a drowned swine or other livestock. The construction forces of the Texas & Pacific worked feverishly to safeguard the long trestle carrying their tracks across the stream. Suddenly this whole structure turned on its side down-stream, broke loose from the rest of the track at one end and swung out into the middle of the current and began breaking up, first into large sections and then into smaller pieces, rushing madly along to some uncertain destination. [Approximately half a dozen of the workmen fell into the torrent at this point; exaggerated reports of their drowning swept the city.] |4=C.L. Moss|5=

Dallas was without power for three days, all telephone and telegraph service was down, and rail service was canceled. The only way to reach Oak Cliff was by boat. [ Dallas Historical Society] - [ Dallas History] . Retrieved 20 April 2006.] West Dallas was hit harder than any other part of the city—the "Dallas Times Herald" said "indescribable suffering" plagued the area. Much to the horror of residents, thousands of livestock drowned in the flood and some became lodged in the tops of trees—the stench of their decay hung over the city as the water subsided.

After the disastrous flood, the city wanted to find a way to control the reckless Trinity and to build a bridge linking Oak Cliff and Dallas. The immediate reaction was citizens and the city clamoring to build an indestructible, all-weather crossing over the Trinity. This had already been tried following the 1890 flood—the result was the "Long Wooden Bridge" that connected Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff and Cadiz in Dallas, but the resulting unstable bridge was easily washed away by the 1908 flood. George B. Dealey, publisher of the "Dallas Morning News", proposed a convert|1.5|mi|km|1 concrete bridge based on a bridge crossing the Missouri River in Kansas City. Ultimately a US$650,000 bond election was approved and in 1912, the Oak Cliff viaduct (now the Houston Street viaduct) was opened among festivities drawing 58,000 spectators. The bridge, at the time, was the longest concrete structure in the world.


*Bachman Branch
*Cedar Creek
*Johnson Creek
*Red Oak Creek
*Richland Creek
*White Rock Creek

See also

*List of Texas rivers
*List of the ten longest Texas rivers


External links

* [ Trinity River Authority]
* [ Trinity River Corridor Project (City of Dallas)]
* [ Trinity River Vision (City of Forth Worth)]
* [ Plans for a shipping channel along the length of the Trinity River]
* [ Historic photos of Corps of Engineers lock and dam projects throughout Texas in 1910-20s from the Portal to Texas History]
* [ Map of the planned Dallas park system] .

* [ Galveston Bay Foundation (The Trinity River provides half the freshwater inflows into Galveston Bay, one of the most important and productive estuaries in the United States]

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