Caddo River

The Caddo River heads up near Big Fork, from the drainage off the mountains near old Slatington.  I was older than I care to admit when I first found out what a "divide" was, in terms of land and water.  A divide (for those of you still not old enough to know) is the point where the water runoff from an area is divided, with all the water from one side going to creek #1 (running north) and all the water from the other side going to creek#2 (running south).  That is about as simple as I can state it for this uneducated Arkie!  


From the head of the Caddo and for about five miles, there is very little visible water in the river.  If one was unfamiliar with the river they would laugh at you for calling it a river.  True, it is underground for the first few miles of its life, but it can be a raging torrent once those spring or fall rains, with totals of 11-20 inches, come down in a short period of time.  The mild-mannered little stream becomes a monster.  It can claim lives as well as property, so don't underestimate its fury.

On the other hand, the river can be one of the most beautiful and scenic places to launch a canoe and spend the day leisurely meandering along, enjoying the sun and foliage.  Most of the time this is one of the most relaxing and pleasurable ways to spend a summer day in Montgomery County.  However, there can be drawbacks.  I remember one summer some friends and I set out for such a day on the Caddo. All went well for the first hour or so, then we got near the Narrows at Caddo Gap and suddenly our perfect day turned into a perfect nightmare.  Someone had shot a cow and she was badly decomposed and partially submerged in the river.  Need I tell you how that destroyed our idea of not only a perfect day, but any thoughts of lunch!!  I'm not sure, but I don't think cattle are allowed to water in the river anymore.

I've found through the years that Texas and Louisiana residents love our mountains and streams.  The weather here seems to run a few degrees cooler than those sultry towns in Texas and Louisiana, and we have a little more shade to offer.  I've seen a lot of excited kids and gown-ups faces as they discover the beauty and luxury of the cool, clear, clean waters of the Ouachita and Caddo.

I shot this peaceful scene on the Caddo from the bridge at Norman in 2007.  The water is so clear you can see the rocks, even from at least six feet above the stream.

Tourism is an important part of the economy in this part of Arkansas, and a lot of business depend on the rivers (Caddo & Ouachita) and the water level in them to provide canoeing and kaiaking.

© Shirley Manning 2004