The Great Raft on the Red River-History Comes Alive at the Grand Ecore Visitor’s Center

Great Raft on the Red River (4)

Virtually anyone who has gone to school and taken the required course on Louisiana history has heard of the Great Raft and of Captain Henry Shreve, the man responsible for clearing it and after whom Shreveport is named.

Calling the Great Raft a logjam doesn’t quite do it justice, however. It was a 100+ mile long accumulation of fallen logs and driftwood that had piled together over thousands of years into an impenetrable mass that rendered the Red River impassible to navigation. In the days of steamboats, when commerce moved by water, this was a major impediment to economic growth in a then young and largely unsettled America.

A standing room only crowd of over 50 people came to the Grand Ecore Visitors’ Center Saturday, July 14th to hear Texas Historian Robin Cole-Jett speak on this subject that almost everyone has heard of, but of whom few people know the whole story. Ms. Cole-Jett teaches American and Texas History at North Central Texas College in Corinth, Texas. She has been teaching and giving presentations around Texas for the past 16 years and is the author of 4 books, with a 5th on the way. The talk in Natchitoches was her first foray into our state. Ms. Cole-Jett held the audience spellbound for over an hour as she talked about the Red River’s role in the settling of the West. She spoke of the economic, cultural and ecological interplay between the river and the people who used it for travel and commerce and who changed its course with various engineering projects over the years.

The talk was sponsored by the Cane River National Heritage Area as part of their “Lunch and Learn” series of presentations. Prior events included the popular “Birds of Prey” presentation. The CRNHA has partnered with the Grand Ecore Visitors Center to provide programming and events such as this. The Natchitoches Parish Journal would like to take this opportunity to thank Ms. Cole-Jett for her interesting look into how the interplay between a river and the people who live by it has effects decades into the future not always apparent. We also hope that this will not be you last visit to our state.