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Canadian River

Canadian River

Overview
The Canadian River is the longest tributary
Tributary
A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a main stem river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean...

 of the Arkansas River
Arkansas River
The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. The Arkansas generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's initial basin starts in the Western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas...

. It is about 906 miles (1,458.1 km) long, starting in Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 and traveling through New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, the Texas Panhandle
Texas Panhandle
The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east...

, and most of Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

.

The Canadian is sometimes referred to as the South Canadian River to differentiate it from the North Canadian River
North Canadian River
The North Canadian River is a tributary of the Canadian River, approximately long, that flows through New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma in the United States....

 that flows into it.

The river rises on the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Sangre de Cristo Mountains
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. They are located in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the United States...

, at approximately 9600 ft (2,926.1 m), in remote southwestern Las Animas County, Colorado
Las Animas County, Colorado
Las Animas County has the largest area of the 64 counties of the State of Colorado of the United States. Las Animas County takes its name from the Mexican Spanish name of the Purgatoire River, originally called El Río de las Ánimas Perdidas en Purgatorio, which means "River of the Lost Souls in...

, approximately 1.5 mi (2.5 km) north of the New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 border.
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Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
The Canadian River is the longest tributary
Tributary
A tributary or affluent is a stream or river that flows into a main stem river or a lake. A tributary does not flow directly into a sea or ocean...

 of the Arkansas River
Arkansas River
The Arkansas River is a major tributary of the Mississippi River. The Arkansas generally flows to the east and southeast as it traverses the U.S. states of Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas. The river's initial basin starts in the Western United States in Colorado, specifically the Arkansas...

. It is about 906 miles (1,458.1 km) long, starting in Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

 and traveling through New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

, the Texas Panhandle
Texas Panhandle
The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east...

, and most of Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

.

The Canadian is sometimes referred to as the South Canadian River to differentiate it from the North Canadian River
North Canadian River
The North Canadian River is a tributary of the Canadian River, approximately long, that flows through New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma in the United States....

 that flows into it.

Course


The river rises on the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains
Sangre de Cristo Mountains
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains are the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains. They are located in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico in the United States...

, at approximately 9600 ft (2,926.1 m), in remote southwestern Las Animas County, Colorado
Las Animas County, Colorado
Las Animas County has the largest area of the 64 counties of the State of Colorado of the United States. Las Animas County takes its name from the Mexican Spanish name of the Purgatoire River, originally called El Río de las Ánimas Perdidas en Purgatorio, which means "River of the Lost Souls in...

, approximately 1.5 mi (2.5 km) north of the New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

 border. It flows ESE across the border, then south, passing west of Raton, New Mexico
Raton, New Mexico
Raton is a city in Colfax County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 7,282 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Colfax County. The city is located just south of Raton Pass.-Name:...

. It forms a deep canyon south of Springer, New Mexico
Springer, New Mexico
Springer is a town in Colfax County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 1,285 at the 2000 census. It was the Colfax County county seat from 1882—1897. Springer was part of the Lucien B. Maxwell land grant. It is near the Cimarron Cutoff of the Santa Fe Trail...

. At its first dam
Dam
A dam is a barrier that impounds water or underground streams. Dams generally serve the primary purpose of retaining water, while other structures such as floodgates or levees are used to manage or prevent water flow into specific land regions. Hydropower and pumped-storage hydroelectricity are...

 at Conchas Lake
Conchas Lake
Conchas Lake is a long reservoir in northeastern New Mexico, behind Conchas Dam on the Canadian River. The lake has an elevation of 4,200 feet and a surface area of 9,600 acres....

, the river turns eastward. It is also dammed at Logan, New Mexico
Logan, New Mexico
Logan is a village in Quay County, New Mexico, United States. The population was 1,094 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Logan is located at ....

, where it forms Ute Lake
Ute Lake State Park
Ute Lake State Park is a state park in New Mexico, USA, located on the eastern plains. The park features a large reservoir on the Canadian River that is home to various fish species including largemouth bass, catfish, crappie and walleye. The park elevation is above sea level. The park is located...

. From there it crosses the Texas Panhandle
Texas Panhandle
The Texas Panhandle is a region of the U.S. state of Texas consisting of the northernmost 26 counties in the state. The panhandle is a rectangular area bordered by New Mexico to the west and Oklahoma to the north and east...

, dammed at Sanford, Texas
Sanford, Texas
Sanford is a town in Hutchinson County, Texas, United States. The population was 203 at the 2000 census.-Geography:Sanford is located at .According to the United States Census Bureau, the town has a total area of , all of it land....

, where it forms Lake Meredith
Lake Meredith
Lake Meredith is a reservoir formed by Sanford Dam on the Canadian River at Sanford, Texas. It is located about northeast of Amarillo, Texas in the Texas Panhandle. It is a major source of drinking water for Amarillo and Lubbock, Texas, located about to the south along with many other towns in...

. The canyon the river carves through eastern New Mexico and the Texas Panhandle is the northern border of the Llano Estacado
Llano Estacado
Llano Estacado , commonly known as the Staked Plains, is a region in the Southwestern United States that encompasses parts of eastern New Mexico and northwestern Texas, including the South Plains and parts of the Texas Panhandle...

, separating it from the rest of the Great Plains
Great Plains
The Great Plains are a broad expanse of flat land, much of it covered in prairie, steppe and grassland, which lies west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States and Canada. This area covers parts of the U.S...

. From Texas the Canadian continues eastward into Oklahoma, passing just south of Oklahoma City
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Oklahoma City is the capital and the largest city in the state of Oklahoma. The county seat of Oklahoma County, the city ranks 31st among United States cities in population. The city's population, from the 2010 census, was 579,999, with a metro-area population of 1,252,987 . In 2010, the Oklahoma...

. At Eufaula, Oklahoma
Eufaula, Oklahoma
Eufaula is a city in McIntosh County, Oklahoma, United States. The population was 2,639 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of McIntosh County.-Geography:Eufaula is located at ....

, it is dammed once again, forming Eufaula Lake
Eufaula Lake
Eufaula Lake is a reservoir in Oklahoma. It is located on the Canadian River, upstream from its confluence with the Arkansas River and near the town of Eufaula. It is the largest lake in the state of Oklahoma with and of shoreline....

, its largest. About 20 miles (32.2 km) downstream it joins the Arkansas River, about 40 miles (64.4 km) west of the Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

 border.

Much of the time the Canadian is just a slow-moving waterway bounded by red mud flats and quicksand
Quicksand
Quicksand is a colloid hydrogel consisting of fine granular matter , clay, and water.Water circulation underground can focus in an area with the optimal mixture of fine sands and other materials such as clay. The water moves up and then down slowly in a convection-like manner throughout a column...

. When sufficient rain
Rain
Rain is liquid precipitation, as opposed to non-liquid kinds of precipitation such as snow, hail and sleet. Rain requires the presence of a thick layer of the atmosphere to have temperatures above the melting point of water near and above the Earth's surface...

 has fallen, the river can carry substantial amounts of water.

Etymology


It is unclear why the river is called the Canadian. On John C. Fremont
John C. Frémont
John Charles Frémont , was an American military officer, explorer, and the first candidate of the anti-slavery Republican Party for the office of President of the United States. During the 1840s, that era's penny press accorded Frémont the sobriquet The Pathfinder...

's route map of 1845 the river's name is listed as "Goo-al-pah or Canadian River" from the Comanche and Kiowa name for the river.

The name may have been given to the river by early French hunters and traders who came from Canada
Canada, New France
Canada was the name of the French colony that once stretched along the St. Lawrence River; the other colonies of New France were Acadia, Louisiana and Newfoundland. Canada, the most developed colony of New France, was divided into three districts, each with its own government: Quebec,...

. The upper part was called Rio Colorado by the Spanish. Some researchers think early explorers believed the river flowed into Canada. It does flow northeast through part of the Texas Panhandle. In 1929 Muriel H. Wright wrote that the Canadian River was named about 1820 by French traders who noted another group of traders from Canada had camped on the river near its confluence with the Arkansas River.

The name could be of Spanish origin from the word cañada (meaning "glen"), as the Canadian River formed a steep canyon in northern New Mexico and a somewhat broad canyon in Texas. A few historical records document this explanation. Edward Hale, writing in 1929, considered the French origin of the name most probable.

A more recent explanation comes from William Bright
William Bright
William Bright was an American linguist who specialized in Native American and South Asian languages and descriptive linguistics....

, who wrote that the name is "probably derived from Río Canadiano", a Spanish spelling of the Caddo
Caddo
The Caddo Nation is a confederacy of several Southeastern Native American tribes, who traditionally inhabited much of what is now East Texas, northern Louisiana and portions of southern Arkansas and Oklahoma. Today the Caddo Nation of Oklahoma is a cohesive tribe with its capital at Binger, Oklahoma...

 word káyántinu, which was the Caddos' name for the nearby Red River
Red River (Mississippi watershed)
The Red River, or sometimes the Red River of the South, is a major tributary of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya Rivers in the southern United States of America. The river gains its name from the red-bed country of its watershed. It is one of several rivers with that name...

.

History


By the Treaty of Doak's Stand
Treaty of Doak's Stand
The Treaty of Doak's Stand was signed on October 18, 1820 between the United States and the Choctaw Indian tribe. Based on the terms of the accord, the Choctaw agreed to give up approximately one-half of their remaining Choctaw homeland...

 in 1820, the Canadian River was made the northern boundary of the Choctaw
Choctaw
The Choctaw are a Native American people originally from the Southeastern United States...

 Nation. Early emigrants to California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

 followed the south bank of the Canadian to Santa Fe
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is the capital of the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is the fourth-largest city in the state and is the seat of . Santa Fe had a population of 67,947 in the 2010 census...

. In 1845 the river was explored by Lieutenants James William Abert
James William Abert
James William Abert was an American soldier, explorer, ornithologist and topographical artist.-Early life:...

 and William G. Peck of the U.S. Army Corps of Topographical Engineers. Their journey was chronicled in the Journal of Lieutenant J.W. Abert from Bent’s Fort to St. Louis, first published in 1846. The Texas Ranger Division also was active in the area.

See also

  • List of Colorado rivers
  • List of longest rivers of the United States (by main stem)
  • List of New Mexico rivers
  • List of Oklahoma rivers
  • List of Texas rivers
  • Pecos River
    Pecos River
    The headwaters of the Pecos River are located north of Pecos, New Mexico, United States, at an elevation of over 12,000 feet on the western slope of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range in Mora County. The river flows for through the eastern portion of that state and neighboring Texas before it...

  • Rio Grande
    Rio Grande
    The Rio Grande is a river that flows from southwestern Colorado in the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Along the way it forms part of the Mexico – United States border. Its length varies as its course changes...

  • Brazos River
    Brazos River
    The Brazos River, called the Rio de los Brazos de Dios by early Spanish explorers , is the longest river in Texas and the 11th longest river in the United States at from its source at the head of Blackwater Draw, Curry County, New Mexico to its mouth at the Gulf of Mexico with a drainage...

  • White River (Texas)
    White River (Texas)
    The White River is an intermittent stream in the South Plains of Texas and a tributary of the Brazos River of the United States. It rises west of Floydada in southwestern Floyd County at the confluence of Callahan and Runningwater Draws. From there, it runs southeast for to its mouth on the...

  • Double Mountain (Texas)
    Double Mountain (Texas)
    Double Mountain is the name of a pair of flat-topped buttes located southwest of Aspermont in Stonewall County, Texas. While the Handbook of Texas gives their elevation as either or , United States Geological Survey maps give the elevation of the western mountain as and that of the eastern...


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