A Free-flowing Atchafalaya River Basin System
The Atchafalaya River meanders from near Simmesport, LA. an area known as the Three Rivers area, i.e., where the Mississippi, Red and Atchafalaya all come together, southward down to Morgan City and the Gulf of Mexico.
The Atchafalaya River and its surrounding flood plain is a unique combination of wetlands, bayous, marshes, estuaries, and river delta area. Best known for its iconic cypress-tupelo swamps, at 260,000 acres this block of forest represents the largest remaining contiguous tract of coastal cypress in the US.
Sometimes referred to as “America’s Foreign Country", it covers an area 20 miles wide and 150 miles long. It is designated a National Heritage area, and is viewed by many as a National Treasure.
I've always been fascinated by knowing / understanding the paths / routes that waterways take in the Atchafalaya Basin.
When I was growing up at Bayou Pigeon, LA., it was essential for the indigenous swamper / commercial fisherman to get around in the basin with speed and accuracy. Every good Atchafalaya Basin commercial fisherman / hunter I have ever known knows the basin waterways like their own house. They understand that knowing current flow and water depth are critical to good catches.
Waterways are the fisherman’s highways; they are the way the commercial fishermen get to ‘work’ (his place of employment). One of the first things the commercial fishermen teach their sons is the back ways and shortcuts to the best fishing / hunting spot in day or night.
I can recall in my younger years being so turned around on the waterways at night that I would have to throw my hat in the air to see which way was down.
My latest book, ‘Heritage of the Atchafalaya, A Natural and Cultural History of the Atchafalaya Basin’, was already published when I realized there was an important chapter that I missed, ie., the history of the waterways before the Atchafalaya Floodway levees, access canals, and pipeline canals. “When the Waterways Were Open’.
I cannot believe I did not think to include that...especially since it is part of our heritage to be good, at direction in the woods!
Goal and Objectives for this writing
My objective is to document and preserve the heritage of the Atchafalaya Basin waterways. In my view, every waterway in the basin is worthy of knowing its history / heritage, some more than others, but still, all are worth understanding.
But, it’s more than that, I find myself wishing for a plain spoken ‘explainer” of how the Atchafalaya Basin got to what it is today. What did the Basin waterways looked like before the Atchafalaya Floodway and industrialized man and concrete conquered and disrupted the basin hydrology and eco system. Why are the bayous like they are? Why / how did they change so much? Who decided where the Basin guide levees would be located? How were the guide levees dug? Why / how did sedimentation fill in Grand Lake? Why did scrub shrub take over the Long View?
This writing is an attempt to be an explainer … it is intended to delve into these issues, it is intended to be the final chapter of my book, ‘Heritage of the Atchafalaya, A Natural and Cultural history of the Atchafalaya Basin’
1870 – 1932 A Bittersweet Era of the Basin
Bittersweet, because, geomorphic wise, the time period from 1870 – 1932 was the last time that the Atchafalaya River basin was a free-flowing river system. On the other hand, that’s when in earnest that the Cajuns established their roots and developed a unique new heritage, Bayou Cajuns. They became ‘Petite Habitant de Maracage, i.e., Farmers of the Swamp’.
Their way of life revolved around the different seasons of the Swamp; 1. The Spring, high water, i.e., annual flood pulse. 2. The Summer, the middle, in between the high and low. 3. The Low Water, Fall and Winter. During that time, it was still a semi isolated area without too much interference from the outside, i.e., Americans and the French Cajun Culture was still dominant.
Bittersweet, because it was both the beginning of the Industrial Cypress Logging in the Basin, which cut down, a thousand years of virgin cypress trees in less than a half century.
There are very few if any, historical maps of the Atchafalaya Basin 'When It Was A Free Flowing River Basin System', that is with enough detail to use them.
For example, the Hardee Map of 1870, gives an outline / general idea of the Atchafalaya River Basin, proportion looks good, but detail is obviously lacking. Most historical maps give a general layout of the land must be interpreted cautiously and carefully.
For example, the Hardee Map, clearly shows the distinct physical layout of Bayou Chene but does not call it by name. Whereas, Bayou Sorrel, Little Bayou Pigeon, Big Bayou Pigeon, and Belle River are specifically identified. Corroborating that they were recognized as streams of significance.
For this story, I used a historical map, ‘Swamps Lands of Jeanerette Lumber and Shingle Company LTD. 1892 – 1915. Compiled by H.B. Hewes, vice president and treasurer, and general manager of Jeanerette L&S Company.
Hewes mapped out the core of the lower Atchafalaya Basin. I do not know where the base map comes from, but it appears it was painstakingly put together, which indicates that it is accurate enough. Hewes overlaid the Arpents survey plot #’s and the Township / Ranges, Section plot numbers on his base map. He included outlines of legal descriptions of acres / lots owned by Jeanerette L&S.
Hewes and Jeanerette Lumber Shingle would of wanted an accurate map as they were embarking on some serious industrialized cypress logging that involved a lot of money and they had a reputation of integrity in the lumber business. Essentially, 1892 was the beginning of Industrial Cypress logging in the basin, ie., the use of the Overhead skidder and pull boat skidder system.
In my research, it is the most accurate map of the The Atchafalaya Basin prior to USGS topographical maps, of which the earliest date I have seen is 1935. The date is critical because after 1932 the Atchafalaya River did not meet the criteria to be identified as free flowing water way.
Jeanerette L&S LTD. 1892 - 1919 Map
1892 – 1932 When the Waterways Were Open, A Free-flowing River Basin System
To fully comprehend, understand and appreciate the heritage associated with the rivers and bayous of the Atchafalaya Basin today, you must journey back to when the Atchafalaya was a free flowing river basin system.
A free-flowing river is one unaffected by human-made changes to its flow and connectivity.
The Atchafalaya River
The Atchafalaya River basin was formed as part of earlier delta formations of the Mississippi to its east and west, and by the flow of the Red River from Texas into central Louisiana. Around 1500 AD the Mississippi meandered into Red River, the lower part of the Red, below the meander became the Atchafalaya River. This was called the Three Rivers area, the Mississippi, Red and Atchafalaya.
Little physiographic change appears to have occurred within the Atchafalaya Basin between the birth of the modern Atchafalaya river approximately 1542 until 1831 almost 300 years.
It was free-flowing river basin system unaffected by human-made changes to its flow and connectivity. That is, water, silt, and other natural materials moved along unobstructed. Animals and fish could swim up and down stream at will. The river itself swelled and shrank naturally, flowed at an organic volume and rate, and replenished groundwater sources. Prior to man's activity, the basin was characterized by sluggish streams, swamps,and extensive lakes.
In 1831, at a spot below where the Mississippi had originally meandered into the Red River, Capt. Henry M. Shreve, founder of Shreveport and a world renowned river engineer, dug a canal (Shreves Cut) through the neck of Turnbull's Bend. The mouth of the Atchafalaya was blocked by a log jam over 20 miles long, hindering navigation. Within days the cut was so large it became the Mississippi Rivers new route into the Atchafalaya River. The Atchafalaya would still carry water from the Red River but not direct from the Mississippi.
With the removal of the Mississippi and Atchafalaya River rafts (log jams) beginning in the 1840’s to 1870’s, the Atchafalaya River main channel scoured its way through the natural basin from the northwest to southeast corner. The Atchafalaya River progressively increased its diversion of waters from the Mississippi River and each year the Atchafalaya became a more aggressive, dangerous river in the spring flood pulse.
For thousands of years the Atchafalaya Basin had soaked up the Mississippi River’s annual floodwaters and distributed them throughout its streams, bayous, lakes and fresh water marshlands. Water flowed in and spread all around. There was nothing to hold it back or hem it in. It was a balanced system. The annual flood pulse brought much-needed nutrients to the swamp and the fish and wildlife were abundant.
Atchafalaya River below Krotz Springs at Mile 56.4
Bayou Big Alabama, Bayou Little Alabama, were ‘off chutes’ of the Atchafalaya River, below Krotz Springs, LA. around river mile 45. They flowed south parallel to the Atchafalaya River main channel where they intersected with Upper Grand River at Osca or Whiskey Bay, both terms must have been used. Osca, being a Choctaw Indian word meaning in the cane or reed. The term Whiskey Bay is thought to come from the Opelousas Indian word, Oskibe (Lockett, 'Louisiana as it is: A Geographical and Topographical Description of the State', 1931
The Grand River 1872 - 1919
Annual Flood Pulse below I-10, i.e.., The Lower Atchafalaya Basin
‘The Fountain of Youth’, by Charles Tenney Jackson, 1914, Chapter XI, ‘Adrift in the Floating Gardens’… “The Grand River in spring time jets out of the Atchafalaya, which spouts out of the swollen side of the Mississippi. The Atchafalaya wanders down through a dozen lakes and nameless bayous to the Gulf and the Grand meanders it way along side, with now and then an interlocking arm or bayou running across to its neighbor, and then these streams flow in and out, back and forth in a crazy – patch fashion through unbroken forest…”
Grand River, East Fork Pigeon, Pat’s Bay, Bayou Sorrel 1892 - 1919
Note the East/West – North / South flow patterns and connections of the bayous / streams, and the Arpent surveying (land division) method, long narrow strips of land, fronting the bayous / streams used in this area of the basin. The Arpent system facilitated rapid settlement of the swamp, by providing as many settlers as possible with some bayou frontage for access. Which indirectly enticed settlers to the area and also allowing small farmers, who could not afford to buy large blocks / tracts to purchase smaller tracts Private ownership of land in the basin, versus public ownership, can be traced back to the desire of the French, Spanish and the USA, to settle the area and convert what (at the time) they thought to useless swamp land to productive agriculture land.
The elevation swamp floor directly below Old River, between Grand Lake and Lower Grand River is the lowest floor elevation in the entire Lower Atchafalaya Floodway.
Belle River, Old Bayou Long, Lake Palourde, Flat Lake, Duck Lake, Willow Cove
Belle River, Old Bayou Long, Lake Palourde, Flat Lake, Duck Lake, Willow Cove
Note the number of streams available to distribute the flood pulse into lower Grand Lake and out the Atchafalaya River into Berwick Bay. Also, the map cartographer nomenclature for Atchafalaya River goes to Patterson, La.
Bayou Long, Wildcat Bayou / West Fork Bayou Long, Middle Fork Bayou Long, Mockingbird Bayou, Old River
Wildcat Bayou / West Fork Bayou Long, Mockingbird Bayou look to be well defined even in Low water stages, meaning in annual flood pulse they would have been fast flowing open streams… makes you wonder how much influence water hyacinths and invasive grass played a part in sedimentation of these streams…
Bayou Grand Gueule, Bayou Benoit, Bayou Grand, Bayou De plomb, Little Gonsoulin Bayou, Bayou Eugene, Bayou Gravenburg, Bayou Chene facilitated annual flood pulse evenly down the west side of the Basin
Bayou Chene (translated to Oak Bayou) a small unincorporated community in St. Martin Parish, Louisiana, United States. The community was located in the center of Atchafalaya Basin and was primarily of Anglo / Saxon, English speaking heritage in a predominant Bayou Cajun culture. It was the only and the last inhabited swamp community, in the interior of the Atchafalaya Basin. It had a Post office, school and church. Established in 1830’s, abandoned in 1950’s due to extreme flooding. The physical landscape, ie. four corners made Bayou Chene and ideal location for a rendezvous & inhabited place.
Lake Fausse Point and Grand Lake still open to each other in this era. It appears where Lake Chicot emptied into Grand Lake, formed 4 sand bars. Two of which are Hog Island and Turkey Island and the other two unnamed. All surveyed, which means they were formed before 1836. This means there was sedimentation in this area from the early 1800’s.
Catfish Bayou, Bayou Cowan, Smith Bayou, look to be braided streams formed from fast flowing waters as they start as sloughs and get bigger until they dump into Grand Lake. Most likely started in the early 1800’s and matured when the river rafts were removed from the head of the Atchafalaya.
Whereas, Little Bayou Pigeon and Big Bayou Pigeon are much older, typical meandering type streams from lower Grand River until they dump into Grand Lake.
With the exception of Shreve's 1831 cut , The Atchafalaya Basin was still a Free Flowing River Basin System until the 1930’s
The Great Mississippi River Flood of 1927... What Have We Done to the Atchafalaya Basin? An Explainer…
Unless you live under a rock , most of the folks in Louisiana are aware of / familiar with the Atchafalaya Floodway. As a result of the most extreme flood in recorded history, the Great Flood of 1927, the U.S. Congress passed the Flood Control Act of 1928, authorizing construction of levees, floodways, and other landscape modifications to control the flow of the Mississippi River. The design of the most elaborate flood control system in United states history began immediately after the Flood Control Act of 1928. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers brainstormed several ways to control Old Man River. Yes, it included a massive system of levees and dams on the Lower Mississippi. But, levees alone would not be enough; the plans included straightening, wider, deeper channels in the river.
For the Lower Mississippi River alluvial valley, the Corps of Engineers included the concept of floodways that could be opened up and speed the flood pulse to a receiving basin to relieve the pressure off the levees.
In South Louisiana, the corps plan included a mind boggling idea, to leave the headwaters of the Atchafalaya river open, hem in the natural Atchafalaya River Basin between two levees, create a gigantic floodway, 1,400,000 acres of mostly bottomland hardwood and cypress / tupelo swamp between levees, set seventeen miles apart.
The stated design of Atchafalaya Basin floodway would be to speed about one half of any 1000 year flood pulse of the Mississippi River / Red river to the Gulf of Mexico, essentially acting like a big ditch. This would take enough pressure off the lower Mississippi River levees and prevent the river from topping and / or crevassing the levees.
The floodway guide levees for the most part would be built on the rim of the lowest areas through the Atchafalaya Basin, roughly five to ten miles on either side of the Atchafalaya River, from Simmesport to Morgan City. This would minimize flooding private land
The new guide levees cut off more than 22 natural streams carrying nutrient rich flood waters to basin deltaic plain every spring. Not only disrupting the flow but cutting off annual water flow areas outside the levees, freezing them in time.
East Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee (EABPL).
The levee begins at the lower end of the east guide levee of the Morganza Floodway, extends southward to and through Morgan City to the Avoca Island Cutoff, and includes the Bayou
Boeuf and Bayou Sorrel locks. The length of this system is 106.7 miles, including 1.3 miles of floodwall along the Morgan City front and about 0.4 mile of floodwall below Morgan City. The Atchafalaya Basin Levee District and the city of Morgan City are responsible for operation and maintenance of this feature.
Think about it, prior to the Floodway, water flowed down Grand River not only into Little Bayou Pigeon, but through Bayou Choctaw, through Lake Natchez to the Lake Verrett water shed… abundant fresh water and nutrients for fisheries… the flood pulse could really spread out… Flood Pulse Balance, not anymore !
Closing the waterways, not so easy -
Right of way Clearing for the EABPL Levee Upper Grand river to Old River was done with three separate contracts..Grand River to Bayou Sorrel. Bayou Sorrell to Bayou Pigeon. Bayou Pigeon to Old River. 
Interesting to note that 1935 USGS maps show the new levee completed on both sides of Little Bayou Pigeon, but the bayou intact.
Obviously, this means closing the gap and cutting little Pigeon off from the floodway was done sometime in 1936 and after the levees were completed on both sides.
Interviews with Mr. Edmond Berthelot and Mr. Felix Berthelot  life long residents of Bayou Pigeon, revealed the borrow canal for levees from Bayou Sorrel to Bayou Pigeon was dug wet. Whilethe Borrow Canal from Old River to Bayou Pigeon was dug dry. Mr. Edmond clearly remembered that cattle would wander off the edges of the dry borrow canal and to had be removed with ropes and much difficulty because the banks were to steep.
Both men recalled that closing the bayou was more difficult than the Corps of Engineers planned .At first, a suction dredge was brought in, the dredge was not able to close the opening. A dipper dredge and barge was brought in. The barge was sunk across the gap and spoil was placed behind the barge to keep the spoil from washing out until closure was stable enough and then the barge was removed.
Priceless information / heritage that would have lost without their interview.
Blocking Old River was a game changer, both Naturally and Culturally for the Lake Verrett water shed, good and bad, depending how you want to look at it. How is that? Lack of water flow from annual flood pulse through Old River protected the surrounding swamp from sedimentation and at same time reduced the nutrients for the fisheries in that area.
We have an archaeological relic, Lake Verrett is frozen in time. This was frozen in the early 1930s, when the EABPL levee crossed it. It would have probably been filled in by now without that happening. It looks pretty much like it looked in the 1930s.
West Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee (WABPL).
The levee begins near the town of Hamburg, where it joins the Bayou des Glaises fuse-plug levee. It extends in a south and southeasterly direction to the Wax Lake Outlet at the latitude of the East and West Calumet Floodgates and thence eastward through Berwick to the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. This levee extends 128.7 miles and connects with 3 miles of floodwall along the front of the town of Berwick. Structures along the levee include Bayou Darbonne and Courtableau drainage structures, the Charenton Floodgate, and the Berwick Lock.The Red River, Atchafalaya, and Bayou Boeuf Levee District, the Atchafalaya Basin Levee District, the town of Berwick, and the St. Mary Parish police jury manages the levee.
Lake Dautervive, Lake Fausse Point Area
Bayou Grand Gueule, Bayou Benoit, Bayou Grand, Bayou De plomb, Little Gonsoulin Bayou, Bayou Eugene, Bayou Gravenburg, all closed by west Atchafalaya Basin Protection Levee (WABPL).
We have another archeological relic, Lake Fausse Point, which is frozen in time. This was frozen in the early 1930s, when The WABPL levee crossed it and froze it in time. It looks now pretty much like it looked in the 1930s. The landmass there is virtually unchanged, except now it has a lot of trees that grew over time.
Floodway Guide levees was only the first phase of flood control plan. With the annual Flood pulse confined inside the levees. The next phase of the flood control system, Atchafalaya Basin Main Channel Improvement Dredging. The straightening, widening and channelization of the Atchafalaya River main channel to increase flow capacity and ensure the floodway could pass a 1000 yr flood.
The dredging was to extend from the Atchafalaya River at Alabama Bayou to the main body of Six Mile Lake near Morgan City. The Corp of Engineers came to conclusion they would need four new channels. Actual channelization of the river started before construction of the guide levees began.
Bayou Big Alabama is an off chute of the Atchafalaya river at approximately Krotz Springs , La. (mile 45) and flows south parallel to the Atchafalaya river, at approximately mile 56, it is at its closest point to the Atchafalaya River. It reconnects back to the Atchafalaya River at Cow island, mile 64.
In 1934, at mile 56.4 a cut was dredged connecting Little Alabama to the Atchafalaya River from the connection, and continued southeast to wear it intersected with Big Alabama at Oska Bay/Whiskey Bay . Officially, this became known as the Whiskey Bay Pilot Channel. Original justification for the Whiskey Bay pilot channel was to provide for a shorter, straighter and easier navigation on the River for industrial marine traffic.
The dredging continued southeast to Upper Grand River. The wider and deeper Whiskey Bay Channel had the almost immediate unintended effect of reducing the flow of the historic Atchafalaya River channel through Butte La Rose and sending 75% of the annual flood pulse each spring, straight down Little Tensas bayou straight down through Lake Mongolois, Lake Chicot to Grand Lake.
From that point, you could say, The Rest Is History, i.e., the fate of Grand Lakes was sealed, almost complete sedimentation.
In addition to the Whiskey Bay channelization, other sections of the Atchafalaya River main channel were dredged plus some other distributary streams were dredged. Still other historic distributary streams were intentionally closed where they left the river to force the bulk of the flood pulse to stay in the main river channel and hence, to scour the channel wider and deeper naturally.
Dr Martin Reuss, Corp of Engineers historian cautioned me that Ferguson's Four channels may not have been completed as drawn. There is data to suggest that conditions on the ground changed some the dredging plans / operations.
Red lines indicate dredging locations from 1932-1948 along the Atchafalaya River and ABMC (Adapted from Latimer and Schweizer, 1951;
No work has been performed on Channel dredging since December 1968.
Atchafalaya Basin Floodway System (ABFS)
The Atchafalaya Floodway project has produced many undesirable results for the Natural and Cultural Heritage of the Natural Atchafalaya Basin. Intuitively obvious was the levees increased the height of flooding inside the Basin; areas that only flooded in extreme condition were now inundated every season. Removal /blockage of drainage paths from the upper reaches of the Grand River watershed into the basin increased flooding in low areas outside the Basin levees as rainwater in the up-per reaches moved through a restricted path on its way to the Gulf of Mexico. The result, heretofore unseen backwater flooding. Higher flood levels inside the levees forced eventual permanent migration of residents from small communities like Bayou Chene, Atchafalaya town and countless isolated shanties’ built on the natural alluvial ridges of bayou’s and streams throughout the basin. Even houseboat communities were not spared; you could not have a small garden or raise chickens.
The closing of streams at the levees and the main channel also reduced the amount of water flowing through the cypress-tupelo swamps and, in many cases, forced water to flow back into areas from the south instead of entering from the north, as it had before the closures. The back-flow filling of swamps and lakes aggravated sedimentation and removed the natural flow of water through those areas.
The flow that had washed silt and decayed plant matter from the swamps in high water times, tended to flow into an area, slow down and sit until the water level dropped significantly, often draining only once in a flood cycle instead of continually as it had in the past.
The result of the new patterns caused by the levees and stream closures has been the loss of the open and deep water areas inside the Atchafalaya Basin Floodway System (ABFS). Thousands of acres of open water in the chain of Lakes, i.e. Lake Chicot, Flat Lake, Grand Lake, Duck Lake and Six Mile Lake are now willow flats and stands of cottonwood trees. A new inland delta formation was created, caused by the increased silt carried by the deep, straight channel being dropped in the wide, slower-moving lake. While the new land might be good habitat for some wildlife, the lack of deep water makes it harder for fish to flourish during low water and high temperature periods.
Multipurpose Comprehensive Plan, Atchafalaya Basin Floodway System (ABFS)
Controlling a flood is one thing that the corps of engineers is good at. Maintaining a fragile ecosystem is quite another. The modern day Atchafalaya Basin Floodway System (ABFS) by law incorporates a multipurpose comprehensive plan that provides flood protection to south-central Louisiana, and must preserve the Atchafalaya Basin. The strategy of the current Atchafalaya Basin Program is to restore historical overflow patterns to the extent practicable, encourage over bank water movement through defined management units, and reduce sediment deposition within the ABFS with the ultimate goal of restoring and enhancing the aquatic environment.
The basic problem is there’s too much water for too long.
The effect of today’s depth and duration of flooding crosses multiple scientific disciplines, e.g. Forestry, Fisheries, Wildlife, Hydrology, Civil Engineering, etc. It affects our forests. It affects our fisheries.
The Atchafalaya Basin was a free flowing River Basin System until the 1930’s. To restore its historical overflow patterns is not practical, we cannot turn back time, but we can start looking at ways to slow this artificial acceleration.
If we are going to work on restoring the eco system of the Atchafalaya Basin as much as practical, first, you must know what you are restoring it to.
Know the Heritage
1. The current Atchafalaya Basin is still great, still a national Treasure, but it is a mere reflection of its former self as a free-flowing river system and ecosystem.
2. We are not alone. The Yellowstone River in Montana is the only major free flowing river in the contiguous 48 states that has not been severely altered for flood control, navigation or hydropower.
3. Building the Atchafalaya Floodway was done for the benefit of the entire United States of America. Channelization of the streams of the Atchafalaya Basin, ie., widening and deepening the main river channels, kept the physical size of the floodway to a minimum. To the U.S. Government flood control, saving lives and property is paramount, everything else is secondary. Tradeoffs were and are still are required of everyone.
4. Over the years we have over exploited the Atchafalaya Basin, for just about everything, e.g., industrial logging, levees, locks for flood control, marine transportation / logistics, discovery and production of Fossil fuels, dumping grounds for hazard wastes, recreation and so on. That does not preclude the future need for some of those activities. It means that prudent management is required.
5. The Atchafalaya Basin cannot be restored to a free-flowing river basin system. The best we can do is to protect, preserve and work to restore as practical.
6. Murphy's Laws... Everything will eventually happen given infinite time
What do you think, let me know?
email@example.com / or 225 776 26
GEOMORPHOLOGICAL INVESTIGATION OF THE ATCHAFALAYA BASIN, AREA WEST, ATCHAFALAYA DELTA, AND TERREBONNE MARSH; VOLUME I; 1986, Technical Report GL-86-3, Lawson M. Smith, Louis D. Britsch, Joseph B. Dunbar
Swamps Lands of Jeanerette Lumber and Shingle Company LTD. 1892 – 1915. Compiled by H.B. Hewes, Vice President and Treasurer, and General Manager of Jeanerette L&S Company
What we've done to the Mississippi River: An Explainer, Alexis C. Madrigal; May 19, 2011
Controlling the River: maintaining the Mississippi river for National Commerce, History of the Old River area and development of the Old River Control Complex, US Corps of Engineers, 1999
A Tale of Two Rivers, Agnieszka Gautier October 11, 2013
The Control of Nature: Atchafalaya, McPhee, J. 1987.
Designing, the Bayous, the Control of water in the Atchafalaya Basin, 1800 - 1995, Martin Reuss, 1998
Comeaux, Malcolm Louis, "Settlement and Folk Occupations of the Atchafalaya Basin." (1969). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 1646. http://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/gradschool_disstheses/1646
Hall, John Whitling, "Louisiana Survey Systems: Their Antecedents, Distribution, and Characteristics." (1970). LSU Historical, Dissertations and Theses. 1724.
Taylor, James William, "The Agricultural Settlement Succession in the Prairies of Southwest Louisiana." (1956). LSU HistoricalDissertations and Theses. 157.
'The Way Things Were by a Bayou Man, Mr. Ray Gilchrist, unpublished.
The Atchafalaya Project, US Corps of Engineers, New Orleans district, Brochure
History of Levee Building on the Mississippi River, Apr 2018, Plate Tectonics
Controlling The River: Maintaining The Mississippi River For National Commerce.
History Of The Old River Area And Development Of The Old River Control Complex (Orcc), U.S. Corps of Engineers,
McCain, Gordon William, "Influences of Channel Dredging on Avulsion Potential at the Atchafalaya River" (2016).Theses and Dissertations. 1559. http://scholarworks.uark.edu/etd/1559
Atchafalaya Basin Program , History & New Focus, ASCE, April 15, 2011, LDNR
Interview with Dr. Bryan Piazza, 2011,Alison M. Jones, No Water No Life®, NWNL Director
A Limited History of the Atchafalaya Basin, by Charles R. Caillouet, Jr., President, FOA Board of Directors, http://www.basinbuddies.org/news
 From the records of Mr. Claiborne Landry who had the right of way clearing contract for the section, Bayou Sorrel to Bayou Pigeon, and 'The Way Things Were by a Bayou Man, Mr. Ray Gilchrist, unpublished.
 Interviews by author with Mr. Edmond Berthelot and Mr. Felix Berthelot