Updated: Sep 7
Shreve's Cut of the Mississippi River led to engineering the Red and Atchafalaya Rivers, and the victim was Red River Landing.
The Red River once entered the Mississippi River at the place where southern Louisiana juts towards the east. It mixed its waters with the Black River, then met the Mississippi. But another part of the Red River, now known as the Atchafalaya River, ran parallel to the Mississippi and emptied into the Gulf of Mexico at La Fourche Parish.
The routes of these streams helped to control the waters and lands to the south. Above Natchitoches stood the massive Red River Raft, a natural log jam that formed hundreds of thousands years prior. The raft acted as a natural dam that controlled the watershed for the Red River, preventing too much water flowing into the Mississippi River from the Red River at any one time.
Then Captain Henry Shreve, a well-respected riverboat captain who often worked as a contractor for the Army Corps of Engineers, dug a short cut for the Mississippi River below its confluence with the Red River in 1831. By 1837, he also cleared some parts of the Red River Raft. In doing so, he let loose a barrage of waters into southern Louisiana. This meant that the Army Corps of Engineers had to re-imagine the lower Red River, creating a number of channels, locks, and dams north of its former point of entry to control its waters before entering the Mississippi River.
The former confluence became a busy steam boat port known as Red River Landing. This town in Point Coupee Parish was never very big, but it served river traffic until the rivers' natural proclivities to lose their shores eventually drowned the town away.
Today, the approximate location of Red River Landing is a popular fishing spot across from Angola State Prison.