Ouachita River

Damming of the Ouachita River via the Blakely Dam for flood control by the Corps of Engineers created Lake Ouachita.

The Ouachita River starts in the Ouachita Mountains as a mountain stream just west of Eagleton, Arkansas in Polk County.
The stretch of river between Eagleton and Lake Ouachita is a popular float stream.

Ouachita River Basin Water Levels

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Flowing in a southeasterly direction through 11 counties in Arkansas, six parishes in Louisiana, and empties into the Red River approximately 35 miles above the confluence of the Red and Mississippi Rivers. The 605 mile length of the Ouachita River drains an area of approximately 24,790 square miles.

In 1881 S.E. Meek was the first to investigate the headwaters of the Ouachita River and its tributaries which he described as “swift, flowing streams of clear water with rock and gravel bottoms.” Meeks reported 30 species of fish collected from the South Fork of the Ouachita River near Mt. Ida, Arkansas; and three other locations in Garland County, Arkansas. The Ouachita River near Crystal Springs, Mazarn Creek and Myers Creek. areas.

Below the Lake Ouachita Dam the river flows into and forms Lake Hamilton, an Entergy Lake created by building the Carpenter Dam in 1932. Below the Carpenter Dam is Lake Catherine another Energy lake created by the Remmel Dam built in 1924. Below Lake Catherine, the river again turns into a float stream flowing south and collecting the Caddo River tributary near Arkadelphia Arkansas.

Continuing downstream southeast from the entrance of the Caddo the Little Missouri River joins the Ouachita River.

Below Camden, AR dredging for navigational purposes begins.
The river then collects the waters of Smackover Creek and Ouachita’s main tributary, the Saline River.

South of the Saline, the Ouachita flows into Lake Jack Lee, a large lake and green tree reservoir part of the Felsenthal National Wildlife Refuge created by the Ouachita and Black River Project in Ashley, Bradley, and Union Counties of Arkansas.

Below the Felsenthal dam the Ouachita River continues into Louisiana.

In Louisiana, the River collects the waters of Bayou Bartholomew the longest Bayou in the World before adding, Bayou de Loutre, Bayou d’Arbonne, Boeuf River, the Little River, and the Tensas River.

Beyond the Tensas river, the Ouachita is called the Black River for several miles as it flows thru Catahoula Parish and Concordia Parish where it merges with the Red River, which flows into both the Atchafalaya River and the Mississippi River, via the Old River Control Structure.

The Ouachita River has four locks and dams along its length:

  • H. K. Thatcher Lock & Dam, Calion AR,
  • Felsenthal AR,
  • Columbia Lock and Dam LA,
  • Jonesville LA.

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