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Lakes, Creeks, and Rivers

LAKE MEREDITH
WILLOW CREEK
DIXON CREEK
COTTONWOOD CREEK
WHITE DEER CREEK
SOUTH PALODURO CREEK
ROCK CREEK
HILL CREEK
CARSON CREEK
SPRING CREEK
BENT CREEK
BEAR CREEK
ANTELOPE CREEK
ADOBE CREEK
ADOBE WALLS TRAIL
PANHANDLE WATER CONSERVATION AUTHORITY
CANADIAN RIVER



LAKE MEREDITH

Lake Meredith is on the Canadian River ten miles west of Borger in Hutchinson County. The lake is impounded by Sanford Dam and extends into Moore and Potter counties. A. A. Meredith, former Borger city manager, devised the project, which was built and financed by the federal government under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Reclamation and is owned and operated by the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority.

Construction of Sanford Dam began on March 11, 1962, and was completed in 1965. Lake Meredith supplies water to eleven West Texas cities: Amarillo, Borger, Brownfield, Lamesa, Levelland, Lubbock, O'Donnell, Pampa, Plainview, Slaton, and Tahoka. A. A. Meredith died of cancer in April 1963, two years before the project's completion. The lake that bears his name has a total storage capacity of 1,407,600 acre-feet and a surface area of 21,640 acres at an elevation of 2,965 feet above mean sea level.

Water is diverted, filtered, treated, and pumped to area cities and towns for municipal supply. The pumping plants and pipelines made up a major part of the project's total estimated cost of $103,230,000. Though the total drainage area of the Canadian River above Lake Meredith is 20,220 square miles, the actual drainage area contributing to the lake is only 9,090 square miles. Since 1965 the reservoir has been under the administration of the National Park Service. In 1972 Sanford Recreation Area, as it was called, was renamed Lake Meredith National Recreation Area.

Several resort communities, including Sanford, Lake Meredith Estates, and Bugbee Heights, lie just outside the park boundaries. Archeological traces of prehistoric Indians, most notably the Alibates Flint Quarries, dot the lake area. The remains of Amos McBride's stone ranch house, dating from the 1870s, are in McBride Canyon on the southeastern side of the lake. This historic structure is located in Potter County beside an environmental study area.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: C. L. Dowell, Dams and Reservoirs in Texas: History and Descriptive Information (Texas Water Commission Bulletin 6408 [Austin, 1964]). Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980).



WILLOW CREEK

Willow Creek rises in the northeast corner of Hutchinson County one-half mile west of the Roberts county line (at 36°01' N, 101°06' W) and flows south for nine miles to its mouth on the Canadian River, five miles northeast of Adobe Walls, just inside Roberts County (at 35°56' N, 101°05' W). It was once part of Henry W. Cresswell's Bar CC Ranchq ranges, and its drainage area is a sandy aquifer recharge zone of local escarpments and deep sandy loam soil.



DIXON CREEK

Dixon Creek, sometimes known as Limestone Creek, rises in north central Carson County (at 35°34' N, 101°21' W) at the confluence of two of its three branches; the third branch joins it a mile south of the Hutchinson county line. The creek runs north for twelve miles to its mouth on the Canadian River, northeast of Borger and Phillips in southern Hutchinson County (at 35°45' N, 101°21' W). Dixon Creek is in the center of the Borger oilfield, where many of the early strikes that touched off the Panhandle boom of the late 1920s were made. The stream traverses an area with deep sandy loams and was named for the frontier scout William (Billy) Dixon. The headquarters of the Dixon Creek division of the Four Sixes Ranch is located in Carson County near the middle branch of the creek.

H. Allen Anderson



HORSE CREEK

Horse Creek rises a mile south of the junction of State Highway 207 and Farm Road 281 in northern Hutchinson County (at 36°01' N, 101°20' W) and runs northeast for fifteen miles, through a vast agricultural and oil-producing region in eastern Hansford County, to its mouth on Palo Duro Creek (at 36°22' N, 101°10' W). The stream rises in a plains region with some local shallow depressions, then as it nears its mouth, crosses an area of moderately sloping terrain. Local soils are generally sandy and clayey and support mesquite and grasses. The town of Spearman was founded just east of Horse Creek in 1917.



COTTONWOOD CREEK

Cottonwood Creek, sometimes known as Coldwater Creek, rises four miles north of Stinnett in central Hutchinson County (at 35°53' N, 101°27' W) and runs south for twelve miles to its mouth on the Canadian River, four miles north of Borger (at 35°44' N, 101°24' W). It crosses flat to rolling plains with sandy and clayey soils that support mesquites and various grasses. The stream was part of the Hansford Land and Cattle Company's Turkey Track Ranch. Much of it remains in the Whittenburg family holdings (see
WHITTENBURG, JAMES ANDREW), and the old Dial townsite is located on the creek.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).



WHITE DEER CREEK

White Deer Creek rises southeast of Skellytown in eastern Carson County (at 35°28' N, 101°10' W) and flows north twenty-six miles to join the Canadian River in eastern Hutchinson County (at 35°52' N, 101°08' W). It runs through flat to rolling terrain with some steep slopes, where clay and sandy loams support cacti, brush, and grasses. The stream, once on Diamond F ranges, gave its name to the White Deer Lands Company and the town of White Deer to the south. It drains the Skellytown oilfield and a vast ranching area.



SPRING CREEK

Spring Creek rises in east central Carson County (at 35°31' N, 101°16' W) and flows northward twenty miles until it empties into the Canadian River in the east central part of Hutchinson County (at 35°48' N, 101°15' W). It flows through flat, rolling, and steep terrain surfaced by clay and sandy loams that support cacti, brush, and grasses. Once part of the Diamond F ranges, it drains a vast ranching and oil producing area.



SOUTH PALODURO CREEK

South Paloduro Creek rises in northwestern Moore County 1½ miles from the Hartley county line (at 35°55' N, 102°08' W) and flows east for thirty-five miles through a vast, flat ranching and oil-producing area into northwestern Hutchinson County. At State Highway 136 it turns and flows north through rugged local escarpments to join North Paloduro Creek in southwestern Hansford County (at 36°06' N, 101°28' W) near the area of the old Cator Ranch. The course of the creek is through mostly barren land; only in local draws is the sandy soil deep enough to support brush and grasses.



ROCK CREEK

Rock Creek rises in northern Carson County (at 35°32' N, 101°29' W) and flows north for twenty miles into the Canadian River northwest of Borger in southwestern Hutchinson County (at 35°44' N, 101°23' W). It runs through flat land and rolling to steep slopes surfaced by clay and sandy loams that support cacti, brush, and grasses and drains the center of the Pantex oilfield, on which the community of Bunavista is located.



HILL CREEK

Hill Creek rises in northwestern Carson County (at 35°35' N, 101°28' W) and runs north for ten miles, across mostly flat rangeland, to its mouth on the Canadian River, northwest of Borger in southern Hutchinson County (at 35°44' N, 101°28' W). The stream, formerly on the LX Ranch, drains part of the Borger and Pantex oilfields.



CARSON CREEK

Carson (Kit Carson) Creek rises in northeastern Hutchinson County (at 35°57' N, 101°16' W) and runs southeast for eleven miles to its mouth on the Canadian River (at 35°50' N, 101°12' W). It crosses flat to rolling plains with sandy and clayey soils that support mesquite and various grasses. The stream was named for Col. Christopher Houston Carson, who mounted his bold but unsuccessful attack against marauding Comanches and Kiowas at the nearby Adobe Walls site in November 1864. Carson Creek is now part of the Turkey Track Ranch properties.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).



BENT CREEK

Bent Creek rises in northeastern Hutchinson County (at 35°58' N, 101°16' W) and flows south for eight miles to its mouth on the Canadian River, eleven miles northeast of Plemons (at 35°'54 N, 101°'07 W). It crosses an area of flat to rolling plains and sandy and clayey soils, where the vegetation consists mainly of mesquite shrubs and grasses. Bent Creek was named for William Bent, of the Bent, St. Vrain, and Company trading firm, which operated from 1832 until 1849 and in 1843 built the short-lived trading house that gave Adobe Walls its name. It was also the site of the first battle of Adobe Walls in November 1864. The creek is on the Turkey Track Ranch.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).



BEAR CREEK

Bear Creek rises at the junction of its east and west forks in central Carson County (at 35°31' N, 101°18' W) and flows to the north for seventeen miles to its mouth on the Canadian River, northeast of Borger in southern Hutchinson County (at 35°46' N, 101°19' W). The stream, in the Dixon Creek Division of the Four Sixes Ranch, is in the center of the vast Panhandle oilfield, a harsh, mostly flat area of sandy soils that support brush, grasses, mesquite, and cacti.



ANTELOPE CREEK

Antelope Creek starts where its east and west forks join, northwest of Panhandle in northwestern Carson County (at 35°35' N, 101°32' W), and flows north through a ranching and oil area for twelve miles to its mouth on the Canadian River, east of Sanford in southwestern Hutchinson County (at 35°44' N, 101°29' W). The stream was once a part of the LX Ranch. It gave its name to the Antelope Creek Focus, the common term used by archeologists for sites of pre-Columbian Indian slab-house ruins in the general area. The stream crosses an area of rolling to steeply sloping terrain and loamy and clayey soils. The vegetation includes juniper, cacti, and sparse grasses.



ADOBE CREEK

Adobe Creek rises in its northern branch in northeastern Hutchinson County (at 36°01' N, 101°11' W) and flows southeast for eight miles to its mouth on the Canadian River, twelve miles northeast of Plemons (at 35°53' N, 101°08' W). The creek crosses an area of flat to rolling plains surfaced with mesquite and various grasses. The stream received its name from the sandy and clayey soils along its banks, which were used to make adobe bricks. Bent, St. Vrain and Company used these soils to construct their adobe trading house in 1843. The Adobe Walls trading post of 1874 was also located near the creek (see
ADOBE WALLS, TEXAS).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876-1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).



ADOBE WALLS TRAIL

The Adobe Walls Trail, perhaps a subroute of the Jones and Plummer Trail, ran from Dodge City, Kansas, to the vicinity of Adobe Walls, Texas. The success of the buffalo hunters encouraged a group of Dodge City merchants in March 1874 to establish Adobe Walls as a trading center on the Canadian River in Hutchinson County. Their stores and stockade were located four miles east of Bent's Fort, the original Adobe Walls trading post. A. C. Meyers, who hired Ed "Dirty Face" Jones to organize a caravan of thirty wagons, and Charles Rath, who used his own teams, freighted in more than $70,000 worth of goods. The route established by the merchants and other buffalo hunters, such as J. Wright and John Mooar,q was heavily used by hunters and hide freighters even after Quanah Parker's raid. But after the buffalo hunting ended, the Adobe Walls Trail became primarily a cattle trail, while the Jones and Plummer, the Tascosa-Dodge City, and the Fort Supply trails were preferred by freighters and stage operators.

The Adobe Walls Trail ran due south out of Dodge City and crossed Mulberry Creek some twelve miles out, near the common crossing for all trails leading south from Dodge. It then veered southwest, gradually away from the more popular Jones and Plummer, and skirted Crooked Creek, which it crossed near the Meade-Ford county line.

The trail caught a corner of Seward County as it angled south toward the Cimarron crossing near the Price and Davies Ranch headquarters in Indian Territory. It traveled west of the Beaver River and entered Texas just east of Palo Duro Creek, then continued to Adobe Walls on a nearly straight line south through Hansford County east of Horse Creek. It entered the breaks of the Canadian River west of Adobe Creek and followed that bank to Adobe Walls, where it extended south a few more miles to connect with the east-west Tascosa Trail.

The trail varied as travelers picked it up at different points or branched off to travel other routes. The Adobe Walls Trail remained generally on the high, dry flats, which provided grass but limited access to water. Ranches were few, and landmarks were scarce. Though the trail was a somewhat quicker route to Dodge from the western Panhandle than the others, by the late 1880s it had been abandoned.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: T. Lindsay Baker and Billy R. Harrison, Adobe Walls: The History and Archaeology of the 1874 Trading Post (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1986). Harry E. Chrisman, Lost Trails of the Cimarron (Denver: Sage, 1961). Frederick W. Rathjen, The Texas Panhandle Frontier (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1973).

C. Robert Haywood



PANHANDLE WATER CONSERVATION AUTHORITY

The Panhandle Water Conservation Authority was established in 1937 by the Forty-fifth Legislature as a state agency to control, store, and distribute the waters of the Red, Canadian, and Brazos rivers and their tributaries for domestic, municipal, flood control, irrigation, power, and other useful purposes. One of the largest conservation districts in the state, it included forty counties of the Panhandle and South Plains area. The forty-man board of directors consisted of one director appointed from each county by the county commissioners' court for a three-year term, with one-third retiring annually. The principal office of the authority was located in Amarillo.

To 1949 the authority had aided in securing the construction of six dams and reservoirs: Buffalo Lake, with a capacity of 18,121 acre-feet, in Deaf Smith and Randall counties; Rita Blanca Lake, with a capacity of 12,100 acre-feet, in Hartley County; McClellan Creek Lake, with a capacity of 5,005 acre-feet, in Gray County; Tule Lake, in Swisher County on a tributary of Red River; Boggy Creek Lake, in Hemphill County; and Wolf Creek Lake, on a tributary of the Canadian River in Ochiltree County. Wolf Creek Lake was washed away by a flash flood in 1947. The six reservoirs were built primarily for soil conservation, flood control, recreation, and promotion of wildlife.

The investigations of flood control and related water problems of the Canadian River basin, conducted since 1935 by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, were compiled in an unpublished survey report dated September 16, 1946. This report stated that a large reservoir situated on the Canadian somewhere between the Texas-New Mexico line and Union, Oklahoma, would help stem flooding in the valley downstream. Sanford and Tascosa were singled out as the most practical sites for such a reservoir. In 1947 the Federal Bureau of Reclamation resumed surveys of the basin it had initiated in January 1941 but had suspended because of World War II.

These investigations resulted in a series of meetings in the spring of 1949 with representatives from a number of High Plains cities interested in obtaining water from the Canadian. At Plainview on June 17, 1949, plans for a water project were presented, and the Canadian River Water Users' Association was formed. The association, led by Austin A. Meredith and representatives from eleven cities, next sought authorization for its proposed project from both Washington and Austin. Although the Panhandle Water Conservation Authority had contemplated playing a leading role in the construction of the Canadian River dam, it ceased to exist after the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority was authorized by the state legislature in November 1953.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Hutchinson County Historical Commission, History of Hutchinson County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1980). U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Canadian River Project in Texas (Washington: GPO, 1950).

Comer Clay

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CANADIAN RIVER

The Canadian River, the largest tributary of the Arkansas River, rises in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in southern Las Animas County, Colorado, near Raton Pass and the boundary line with Colfax County, New Mexico (at 37°01' N, 105°03' W), and flows south and southeastward, separating the Llano Estacado from the northern High Plains. It is roughly 760 miles long; a stretch of about 190 miles is in Texas. The river is dammed to form the Conchas and Ute reservoirs in northeastern New Mexico before it enters Texas at about the midpoint of the western boundary of Oldham County.

The Canadian crosses the Panhandle, flowing eastward and northeastward through Oldham, Potter, Moore, Hutchinson, Roberts, and Hemphill counties. Most of the river's course across the Panhandle passes through a gorge 500 to 800 feet below the plateau. Particularly in its lower reaches in Oklahoma, the riverbed contains great amounts of quicksand; this and the deep gorge make the river difficult to bridge.

A tributary, the North Canadian, heads in Union County, New Mexico (at 36°30' N, 102°09' W), and flows briefly into the northern Texas Panhandle before continuing on to its confluence with the river in McIntosh County, Oklahoma (at 36°30' N, 101°55' W). After crossing the state line back into Oklahoma, the Canadian River flows generally southeastward to its mouth on the Arkansas River, twenty miles east of Canadian in Haskell County, Oklahoma (at 35°27' N, 95°02' W).

According to some sources, the river's name came from early explorers who thought that it flowed into Canada. Among the Canadian's principal tributaries in Texas are Big Blue, Tallahone, Red Deer, Pedarosa, Punta Agua, Amarillo, Tascosa, and White Deer creeks. The Texas portion of the Canadian River is noted for archeological sites where extensive remains of Pueblo Indian culture have been found. Some historians have said that Quivira Province, long sought by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado, was on the Canadian.

The Canadian is probably the stream that Juan de Oñate called the Magdalena in 1601. The area was Comanche country until the latter part of the 1800s, but the stream was well known to the Comancheros, to Josiah Gregg, and to others engaged in trade out of St. Louis or Santa Fe. Lt. James William Abert of the United States Army Corps of Topographical Engineers explored the river in 1845 and made an extensive report of its physical features and of the Indians whom he encountered. With the decimation of the buffalo, cattlemen replaced Indians in the area, and, except for oil developments, the Canadian valley in Texas remained in 1949 principally a ranching area.

The river is dammed to form Lake Meredith forty miles northeast of Amarillo near Sanford in Hutchinson County. The Panhandle Water Conservation Authority as early as 1949 was contemplating construction of Sanford Dam to create a reservoir of some 1,305,000 acre-feet capacity that would furnish a municipal water supply for eleven Panhandle cities and serve the secondary purposes of flood control, soil conservation, recreation, and promotion of wildlife; actual impoundment of water did not begin until 1965.

Lake Meredith is named for A. A. Meredith, who was executive secretary of the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority. An aqueduct to serve Pampa, Amarillo, Lubbock, Lamesa, Borger, Levelland, Littlefield, O'Donnell, Slaton, and Tahoka was estimated to cost $54 million. Cities purchasing the water would repay the major part of the cost of the project over a period of fifty years. The Canadian River Compact Commissioner, appointed in 1951, negotiates with other states regarding the water of the Canadian. The National Park Service assumed management of recreational facilities at Lake Meredith in 1965.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: A Summary of the Preliminary Plan for Proposed Water Resources Development in the Canadian River Basin (Austin: Texas Water Development Board, 1966). Texas Planning Board, The Canadian River Basin in Texas (Austin, 1936). U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers, Guadal P'a: The Journal of Lieutenant J. W. Abert, from Bent's Fort to St. Louis in 1845 (Canyon, Texas: Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, 1941).

Hobart Huson

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This page was last updated June 9, 2004.