The Trinity River In Dallas

Summertime was a slow time for Dallas’ original Trinity River. even minimal A blood-red, colossal monster amid a soggy spring. The river is either too much or not enough. The Spanish crown’s Mexican-born official Alonso de Leon gave the area, which some Indians called Daycoa and others Arkikosa, its current name, La Santisima Trinidad, or The Most Holy Trinity, in 1690.


Trinity means “three in one.” Was it purely coincidence that the upper river’s veins, which converge in a triangular pattern, provided the first name to a location in the wild that would one day become Dallas?

The History of the Trinity River in Dallas

The Trinity River travels 710 miles from the Red River in northern Texas to a Gulf of Mexico inlet, making it the longest river to be entirely contained within a single state. Families were convinced to relocate situated on the eastern bank of the Trinity by John Neely Bryan, a trader, attorney, and founder of Dallas. However, while being credited with helping Dallas come into being, the small section of river west of the city doesn’t see as much activity as other rivers in other parts of the country.


Did Dallas ever attempt to be an inland port were perplexed by Dallas’ inefficient utilization of the Trinity River. And what was the current proposal for the Trinity River?  Dallas had hoped to develop into a port city, however this strategy was unsuccessful. Beginning in 1892, discussions suggested making the Trinity River a navigable river that would connect Dallas with the Gulf of Mexico. In late January of that year, a group known as the “Trinity River nagivationists” gathered in the City Hall auditorium to plan the logistics. Many attendees were upbeat about the likelihood of successfully navigating the river.


Using the river for trade, according to D.C. Mitcher, a former alderman of Dallas, would save the city between $1 million and $2 million annually. According to The Dallas Morning News, Mitchell stated that he  “pictured the future of Dallas as a great job center, controlling the grain trade of the state and distributing groceries and dry goods to more than half of Texas.”


Some recommended recruiting wealthy investors who could fund development because Dallas was unable to pay for it. Some attendees recommended exploring the river with three men in a boat before beginning the operation. The Trinity was previously thought to be impossible to navigate, according to Col. W.C. Wolff, the group’s chairman, but locals were gradually coming around to the idea. The News stated that “steamboat men with much experience suggested the river could be opened.”


Every time the group convened, they assured everyone in attendance that the Trinity might be converted into a viable waterway. Some participants even had the incorrect assumption that if Dallas began to utilize the neighboring river, it would proudly challenge St. Louis as well as other cities, according to The News.

The Trinity River Navigation Co.

The Trinity River Navigation Co. was eventually established by a group of businessmen, and in November 1892 it built its first snagboat. The boat, which was constructed in 30 days out of heavy lumber, assisted in making the Trinity into an accessible river. According to The News, “From the ocular survey made here last summer by river engineers, it is believed by the company that the river can be put in a condition to float steamers to Galveston by the latter part of next spring.”


Midway through February 1893, the snagboat was finished, and it was put into service shortly after to clean up the Trinity River. In an effort to open the river to freight boats within a year, the boat labored day and night.

The H.A. Harvey Jr.

The steamer H.A. Harvey, Jr., that traveled from the Gulf of Mexico for two months before landing in Dallas in May 1893, was successfully cleared by the snagboat.


One of Dallas’ largest civic gatherings in history was sparked by the arrival. There was not a lot of cargo on the Trinity as a result of this success. For a few years, the H.A. Harvey Jr. stayed in Dallas and operated as an excursion steamer, taking lovers on moonlit rides to McCommas Bluff.

The Flooding of the Trinity River

Dallas residents were still optimistic that a port could be built on the Trinity River’s banks. When obtaining further funding from Congress for the Trinity River’s continued navigation in the 1900s, city leaders hailed the H.A. Harvey Jr.’s successful voyage. So when the Trinity River flooded on May 24th, 1908, Dallas’ hopes of becoming a premier port city were dashed. Five individuals were killed and 4,000 people were left homeless when the water crested at 52.6 feet.


Dallas was left without essential services due to flooding at the city’s electric and water plants. Lines for telegraph and telephone fell down. Every bridge close to downtown was swept away, and rail lines were destroyed. Due to the flood, Dallas devised the “Kessler Plan,” which moved the Trinity half a mile westward of its original course. The plan also constructed the levee system that allowed for economic exploitation of some of the upriver floodplain.


Eventually, the proposals for a Port of Dallas were abandoned in favor of the currently under discussion proposals to build a park in between the Trinity levees. Since 1908, Dallas has endured further significant floods. In May 1995, a storm that produced softball-sized hail that triggered a significant flood resulted in the deaths of 15 persons and more than 100 injuries.

The Future of the Trinity River

The Trinity River levees were pronounced “inappropriate” and incapable of withstanding a flood that occurs once every 100 years by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers following Hurricane Katrina and a routine assessment.


The Dallas City Council authorized spending $69.5 million from the 1998 bond proceeds that were intended for a Trinity tollway to raise and level portions of the levees that make up the Dallas Floodway System. In accordance with a cost-sharing agreement with the city, the corps consented to an extra $144 million to the construction budget.


The city of Dallas is also working on 84 projects to enhance erosion management, storm drainage, and flood protection.


The Trinity River has a longstanding legacy that is fueled with so many of the remarkable things that only add and contribute to the incredible history of the beautiful city of Dallas.