Ouachita River

Map of the catchment area of the Ouachita River

The Ouachita River [ wɑ ː ʃɪtɑ ː ] is an approximately 970 km long river in the southeastern United States of America. It flows through the two states of Arkansas and Louisiana and ends just before its junction with the Mississippi River in the Red River.


The Ouachita River originates in the Ouachita Mountains near the town of Mena in Polk County, Arkansas. It flows in an easterly direction, first in the Lake Ouachita, a reservoir created by the dam Blakely Mountain. On its way, the river crosses the Ouachita National Forest partially. The northern and southern arm of the Ouachita River flow also into this lake and there unite with the main stream. Behind the dam flows the Ouachita River southward into Lake Hamilton, another artificial lake formed by the dam Carpenter. On the northern bank of this reservoir, the town of Hot Springs is located. At Lake Hamilton, the Lake Cathrine follows, also an artificially created lake. After crossing this lake the Ouachita River flows largely without major human intervention by Arkansas towards the border of Louisiana.

He takes during its run on the Little Missouri River and passes through the city of Camden. Other tributaries are the Smackover Creek and its main tributary of the Ouachita River, the Saline River. Below the mouth of the Saline and just before the border of Louisiana Ouachita flows into Lake Jack Lee, a reservoir as part of the " Ouachita and Black River Project " is formed. Below the lake is the Ouachita its way southward away and crossed the border. In Louisiana, it takes its tributaries Bayou Bartholomew, Bayou de Loutre, Bayou D' Arbonne, the Boeuf River, the Little River and the Tensas River on. After the inflow through the Tensas River Ouachita River is referred to its confluence with the Red River near Catahoula Parish as " Black River ".

A total of six locks and dams control the flow.


The river was named after the Native American tribe of the Washita, who settled on the banks of the river. Other tribes who lived along the river were the Caddo, Osage, Tensas, Chickasaw, Choctaw and. The word Washita means both " good hunting grounds " and " glittering silver water ". Against these strains, the banks were inhabited by a people of Moundbuilders, some mounds have survived along the river yet. The largest of these mounds was destroyed in the 20th century during the construction of a bridge at Jonesville. The standing on the mound temple was destroyed in 1540 during the expedition Hernando de Soto by a lightning strike. This was seen by the Moundbuildern as a bad omen and they did not build the temple again and left the region by 1730.

In the colonization of northern Louisiana and southwestern Arkansas by European settlers in the 18th century the river was an important trade and transportation route. By the 1830s, the fertile soil and the accessibility of the region made ​​by steamboats a sought-after area of land speculators from the north. Between Camden and New Orleans, there was a regular connection via steamships and it was possible example of the cities in the east to travel directly into the region without entering the country. One of those investors was Meriwether Lewis Randolph, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson, who while a house on the Ouachita River built himself, fell ill with malaria and died. He had been appointed by Andrew Jackson in 1835 as Secretary of the Arkansas Territory and joined the Arkansas admission as a state in 1836 again.

Nature and Environment

The river is still used for navigation, but to a much lesser degree than in the days of steam navigation. The commercial shipping is possible between Camden and Jonesville. Above Camden, the flow is mainly used as a recreational and leisure area and bordered by dense forests. The Ouachita River is fed by a number of smaller streams that contain native fish such as killifish ( Fundulus ) frequently. Fishing is a popular sport on the Ouachita River, in particular, get there before smallmouth bass, bluegill, freshwater drummers and gars.