Gray County
Creeks, Lakes, and Rivers

Source: The Handbook of Texas Online

CANTONMENT CREEK
GRAPEVINE CREEK
LAKE MCCLELLAN
MCCLELLAN CREEK
MCCLELLAN CREEK NATIONAL GRASSLAND
PARKS CREEK
RED DEER CREEK
RED RIVER - NORTH FORK
SWEETWATER CREEK
WHITEFISH CREEK

CANTONMENT CREEK

Cantonment Creek rises southwest of Laketon in northeastern Gray County (at 35°32' N, 100°41' W) and runs southeast for ten miles to its mouth on the North Fork of the Red River, near Farm Road 1321 (at 35°24' N, 100°37' W).

It begins in flat to rolling terrain surfaced by deep, fine sandy loams that support hardwood forest, brush, and grasses, and crosses into flat terrain with local shallow depressions, surfaced by clay and sandy loams that support water-tolerant hardwoods, conifers, and grasses.



GRAPEVINE CREEK

Grapevine Creek rises at the edge of the Llano Estacado in west central Gray County (at 35°25' N, 100°52' W) and runs northeast for seven miles to its mouth on the North Fork of the Red River, south of Lefors (at 35°25' N, 100°48' W).

The stream, which was once part of the vast Diamond F Ranch, crosses flat to rolling terrain with local escarpments, surfaced by deep, fine, sandy loam that supports brush and grasses.



LAKE MCCLELLAN

Lake McClellan (McClellan Creek Lake), with a capacity of 5,005 acre-feet, was constructed on McClellan Creek twenty-five miles south of Pampa in southern Gray County (at 35°12' N, 100°51' W). It was built in the late 1940s by the Panhandle Water Conservation Authority, primarily for soil conservation, flood control, recreation, and promotion of wildlife.

The lake is named for Capt. George B. McClellan, who accompanied Randolph B. Marcy on his exploration of the Red River. Surrounding the reservoir is McClellan Creek National Grassland, one of several scattered tracts of land across the Panhandle and in Oklahoma and New Mexico bought by the federal government after the dust bowl of the 1930s.

This area has been allowed to go back to native grasses and brush to anchor the soil and help prevent destructive dust storms. It is generally characterized by a flat to rolling terrain with deep sandy loams. Facilities are provided for picnicking, camping, fishing, and boating.

Near the lake is the site where Lt. Francis (Frank) D. Baldwin, commanding two companies of United States Cavalry, attacked Chief Grey Beard's band of Cheyenne Indians on November 8, 1874, and rescued Julia and Addie German.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Grace E. Meredith, ed., Girl Captives of the Cheyennes (Los Angeles: Gem, 1927).



MCCLELLAN CREEK

McClellan Creek rises at the conjunction of two branches (at 35°15' N, 101°28' W), at the edge of the Llano Estacado in southwestern Gray County, and runs northeast for about thirty miles to join the North Fork of the Red River near the eastern county line (at 35°22' N, 100°34' W).

The stream was named by Randolph B. Marcy in 1852 for his second in command, George B. McClellan. The north branch was the scene of Lt. Francis (Frank) Leonard Dwight Baldwin's wagon charge on Grey Beard's Cheyenne village on November 8, 1874, during which Julia and Adelaide German were rescued.

The Francklyn Land and Cattle Company's Diamond F cattle grazed along the creek during the last two decades of the 1800s, and in the 1920s several natural gas deposits were found near its banks. The main or southern branch of the stream is dammed to form Lake McClellan (also known as McClellan Creek Lake).

The stream crosses flat to rolling terrain with local escarpments, surfaced with fine sandy loam that supports brush and grasses.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Panhandle Pilgrimage: Illustrated Tales Tracing History in the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1976; 2d ed., Amarillo: Paramount, 1978).



MCCLELLAN CREEK NATIONAL GRASSLAND

McClellan Creek National Grassland is on Farm Road 2477 five miles north of State Highway 70 in Gray County. The 1,449-acre preserve was purchased by the Department of the Interior during the 1930s under the Bankhead-Jones Farm Tenant Act in an effort to return some the badly eroded land of the Dust Bowl to its natural state.

The park, which includes Lake McClellan, is administered by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service regional office in Albuquerque, New Mexico, under a policy of multiple use for range, watershed, recreation, and wildlife.

Open grasslands, marshes, and woodlands provide habitats for a variety of animal life, ranging from deer and coyotes to quail and turkeys. Facilities include camping and picnicking areas and a boat dock.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: George Oxford Miller, Texas Parks and Campgrounds: Central, South, and West Texas (Austin: Texas Monthly Press, 1984).

Christopher Long



PARKS CREEK

Parks Creek rises in extreme southeastern Gray County (at 35°12' N, 100°41' W) and flows south nine miles to join Whitefish Creek in northeastern Donley County (at 35°05' N, 100°40' W).

The stream crosses flat to rolling terrain with local escarpments and mostly deep, fine sandy loams covered with brush and grasses. Parks Creek was formerly on the RO Ranch properties.



RED DEER CREEK

Red Deer Creek rises at the breaks of the Llano Estacado northeast of Pampa in northern Gray County (at 35°33' N, 100°60' W) and flows northeast for thirty-five miles, across southeastern Roberts County through Miami, to its mouth on the Canadian River, near Canadian in western Hemphill County (at 35°56' N, 100°23' W).

Robert Moody established his PO Ranch headquarters on Red Deer Creek, and the stream's upper waters were part of the Diamond F ranges. The area is flat with local shallow depressions; water-tolerant hardwoods, conifers, and grasses grow in clay and sandy loam soils.



RED RIVER - NORTH FORK

The North Fork of the Red River rises in central western Gray County (at 35°24' N, 101°05' W) and flows east for seventy miles across Gray and Wheeler counties. It is joined by McClellan Creek, its chief tributary, just west of the Wheeler county line.

The stream crosses the 100th meridian into Oklahoma and flows east across Beckham County and then southeast to form the county lines between Greer and Kiowa, Kiowa and Jackson, and Jackson and Tillman counties. It joins the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River to form the Red River proper on the Oklahoma-Texas boundary northeast of Vernon, in Wilbarger County (at 34°19' N, 99°12' W).

The basin is characterized by mostly flat terrain with local shallow depressions and clay loam and sandy loam soils. Vegetation consists primarily of water-tolerant hardwoods and grasses.

The upper North Fork was the scene of much activity during the Indian wars of the 1870s. On September 29, 1872, Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie mounted his successful attack against Mow-way's Comanche village on the North Fork east of the site of present Lefors.

Col. John W. Davidson campaigned successfully against the Cheyennes along the stream during the Red River War in the fall of 1874. For years, beginning with the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819, the North Fork was erroneously believed to be the Red River's main tributary; for that reason Texas claimed Greer County until 1896, when it was allotted to Oklahoma.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Ernest Wallace, Ranald S. Mackenzie on the Texas Frontier (Lubbock: West Texas Museum Association, 1964).

H. Allen Anderson



SWEETWATER CREEK

Sweetwater Creek rises in northeastern Gray County (at 35°37' N, 100°36' W) and flows southeast thirty-five miles across northern Wheeler County and southwestern Roger Mills County, Oklahoma, to unite with the North Fork of the Red River in Beckham County, Oklahoma (at 35°18' N, 99°57' W).

The creek runs through flat to rolling hills surfaced with sand and sandy loams that support hardwoods, brush, and grasses. Fort Elliott and Hidetown (later Sweetwater, then Mobeetie) were established in the 1870s near the creek, a favorite haunt of hide hunters during the height of the buffalo slaughter.



WHITEFISH CREEK

Whitefish Creek rises near Alanreed in southern Gray County (at 39°12' N, 100°47' W) and flows southeast for twenty-two miles to its mouth on the Salt Fork of the Red River, in eastern Donley County (at 34°60' N, 100°36' W).

In 1879 Whitefish Creek and its tributaries were occupied by the Quarter Circle Heart Ranch, but in 1880 Alfred Rowe added them to his RO Ranch. The area is flat to rolling with local escarpments. The soils are deep, fine, sandy loams that support hardwood forests, brush, and grasses at the head.

The creek later reaches a flat area with local shallow depressions, where clay and sandy loam soils support water-tolerant hardwoods, conifers, and grasses.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Panhandle Pilgrimage: Illustrated Tales Tracing History in the Texas Panhandle (Canyon, Texas: Staked Plains, 1976; 2d ed., Amarillo: Paramount, 1978).

(information from The Handbook of Texas Online --
a multidisciplinary encyclopedia of Texas history, geography, and culture.)

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