Lock & Dam 1

Rafts (also called log jams) like this one developed regularly throughout history on the Red River

Red River at Lock & Dam 1

What's the Story?

The Red River is 1,360 miles long and originates in the states of Texas and Oklahoma, carrying its distinct, reddish-orange sediment southeast as it flows through northern Louisiana. The river’s color comes from rust-colored soils—made up of sandstone, siltstone and shale—found in older Permian red beds in arid areas near the river’s origins. These sediments are visible in water, sandbars, river banks and alluvial farmlands in the Red River floodplain. 

The connection between the Red, Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers began long ago when the Red started flowing toward a large meander of the Mississippi. This meander (later called Turnbull’s Bend) intercepted the Red River, turning it into a tributary. The Atchafalaya River also eventually connected with the meander, becoming a distributary. In the mid-1800s, construction of a cut through the narrow neck of Turnbull’s Bend made navigation on the Mississippi more efficient. While the upper channel of Turnbull’s Bend gradually silted in and separated from the Mississippi, the lower channel—Old River—became an important connection between the three rivers. 

Today a series of levees, outlets, locks and dams provides river transportation, bank stabilization and recreational opportunities for the region. Located on the Red River 11 miles upstream from Marksville, Lock and Dam # 1 (also called the Lindy C. Boggs Lock and Dam) is the first of five locks that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers uses to manage transportation from Shreveport to the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers. Without these controls and constant efforts by numerous engineers and agencies, water transportation on the Red River in central Louisiana would not be practical or productive. 

Severe floods on the Red River in both 1948 and 2015 are significant reminders of the power of water in this dynamic river environment. And although the locks were not designed for flood control, positive water management through the system can have an effect on water levels near the river and below this lock.

This site’s geology/geomorphology: Holocene natural levee deposits of Red River

Site GPS Coordinates: 31.253381, -91.954414
Closest Address: 192 Lock Dam Road, Marksville, LA 71351
Driving Directions: From Marksville, take Louisiana Highway 452 (Brouillette Highway) north out of Marksville for approximately 16 miles. Look for the water tank on your left next to a paved road leading to the top of the river levee/closure dam leading to the recreation/comfort station. Take the road to the left next to the comfort station to the lower parking lot adjacent to the lock & dam/river. From Alexandria, cross the river on Hwy 107/115 and travel ~7 miles to the Marvin Graham Road adjacent to the water tower and take a left. From there, turn left onto HWY 1192 and take Fort Derussy Road to the right to HWY 452. Turn left onto HWY 452 and arrive at the lock & dam road in ~8 miles.

Trail Site Information

Nearby Parking
No Entrance Fees
Family Friendly