The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949 Page: 411
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The Colorado River Raft
half to two feet of water. All plans set Austin as the upper limit
for steamboat navigation because of the shoals and falls above
that point on the river.
The second, and greatest, obstruction to navigation was a
collection of driftwood near the mouth of the river. Such obstruc-
tions were found in many rivers. Rises would bring logs and
whole trees downstream. This undoubtedly had occurred to some
extent from the earliest times, but it was aggravated by the clear-
ing of land by the pioneers. When the floating logs reached
slack or tide water some twenty miles from the mouth of the
river, they slowed or stopped their downstream journey. In this
way large drifts were formed. Some remained in a floating and
shifting state; others hit obstructions such as islands, fallen trees,
and other drifts, and became stationary. These drifts were a
serious obstacle to navigation. They formed a stopper near the
mouth of the river that endangered or halted traffic in both di-
rections. This collection of drifts was called the "raft."
The first recorded description of the raft of the Colorado River
was in 1690; true to its later custom it obstructed navigation
even then. Following the report made in 1690 by Alonso de
Le6n, the viceroy of Mexico sent an expedition in charge of
Captain Francisco de Llanos to investigate conditions on the
Texas coast. Manuel Joseph de Cardenas was the map maker on
this expedition. His map of Matagorda Bay made in 1690 was
used by Professor Herbert E. Bolton as the basis of the thesis that
La Salle's early settlement was on the Garcitas River rather than
on the Lavaca, as generally believed.
During the exploration of Matagorda Bay, Cardenas and his
party sailed along the shore eastward to the mouth of a large
river. Cardenas called it the Trinidad. To quote Professor Bol-
This stream was clearly the Colorado. ... On the sixteenth they
ascended the eastern mouth of the river some ten or fifteen miles to
a point near Beadle, and returned by the westernmost channel till
stopped by a raft of drift logs, whence they turned back, and de-
scended by another channel.2
2Herbert E. Bolton, "Location of La Salle's Colony on the Gulf of Mexico,"
Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XXVII (January, 1924), 183-184. Note, however
that E. W. Cole in "La Salle in Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly, XLIX
(April, 1946), 473-500, maintains that La Salle's settlement was on the Lavaca
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 52, July 1948 - April, 1949, periodical, 1949; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101121/m1/420/: accessed May 28, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.