Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan. Page: 22 of 368
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THE BIG WITCHITA.
particularly than I had ever done before, and found it a much more
desirable section of country than I had imagined.
The soil in the valley is very productive; the timber, consisting of
overcup, white-oak, elm, hackberry, and wild china, is large and abundant,
and the adjoining prairie is covered with a heavy growth of the
very best grass. The stream at fifteen miles above its confluence with
Red river is twenty feet wide and ten inches deep, with a rapid current,
the water clear and sweet.
From the point where I first struck it, good farms could be made
along the whole course of the creek to its mouth. The country adjoining
is high, rolling prairie, interspersed here and there with groves of
post-oak, and presents to the eye a most pleasing appearance.
From the Little Witchita we ascended Red river along the south
bank, over very elevated swells of undulating prairie, for twenty-five
miles, when, on the 9th, we reached the high bluffs of a large tributary
called the "Big Witchita river." This stream flows over a clay bed
from the southwest and enters Red river about eight miles below Cache
creek. It is a deep, sluggish stream, one hundred and thirty feet wide,
the water at a high stage very turbid, being heavily charged with red
sedimentary matter; the banks abr)upt and high, and composed of indurated
red clay and dark sandstone. The river is very tortuous in
its cours , winding from one side to the other of a valley a mile in
width, covered with a luxuriant sward of nutritious mezquite grass,
which affords the very best pasturage for animals.
The latitude of this place is 34 25' 51".
There are but few trees on the borders of the Big Witchita: occasionally
a small grove of cotton-wood and hackberry is seen; but with this
exception, there is no timber or fuel near.
The valley of the river for ten miles above the mouth (the portion I
examined) is shut in by bluffs about one hundred feet high, and these
are cut up by numerous ravines, in many of which we found springs of
pure cold water. The water in the main stream, however, is brackish
It is my impression that the Big Witchita is of sufficient magnitude
to be navigable with small steamers of light draught at almost any
stage of water.
In consequence of the high water in Red river, we were detained at
the mouth of the Witchita until the morning of the 12th, during which
time our provisions being almost consumed, and not knowing positively
when our wagon train would join us, I took two Indians with packhorses,
swam the river, and started out in quest of it. After going about
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Marcy, Randolph Barnes. Exploration of the Red River of Louisiana, in the year 1852 / by Randolph B. Marcy ; assisted by George B. McClellan., book, 1854; Washington, DC. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6105/m1/22/: accessed November 17, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .