Cane River Waterway

A History of Cane River

Cane River Lake has a fascinating history, and we'd like for you to know a little about the body of water you're enjoying. It began as Red River itself, and was the head of navigation for the Mississippi River/Red River route for many years. A massive natural log jam just upstream from the resent location of Natchitoches prevented any further progress by boat. When French Explorer Louis Juchereau de St. Denis discovered this, he built a small fort on the west bank of the Red River at that point. That 1714 construction was the beginning of Natchitoches, Making it the oldest permanent settlement in the entire Louisiana Purchase Territory. More than a century later the fickle Red River changed the course of its main channel, as rivers in the low lying Gulf Cost region have done forever, cutting across a bend some four mile upstream at Grand Ecore. After that, steamboat access into the City of Natchitoches became a sporadic thing, eventually possible only during high water periods. The city's loss became Grand Ecore's gain, with the latter growing into a significant settlement featuring at least two hotels.

As the new channel became deeper, the route through Natchitoches became less and less navigable and early in this century dams were built to separate ""Cane River Lake"" from Red River.

Cane River Lake is a beautiful, meandering body of water, a lake, but one having the attractive characteristics of a stream. It is an asset without which Natchitoches and the Cane River Country would be much less desirable as a place in which to live, work and play.


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