Like the Nolan and the Pease, the Sulphur River was unknown to us before we began to systematically trace the state’s waterways.
RELATED: How to Trace the Medina River.
For much of its course, the Sulphur tracks the more northerly and much larger Red River, running generally east from Lamar and Delta counties, while flowing into Wright Patman Lake in Titus County. Almost right away, it then wanders into the state of Arkansas and ultimately into the Red River.
At 183 miles, it’s not a particularly long stream, and, like several other East Texas rivers, it rises among hardwoods and prairies before cutting through pine forests and swampy lowlands.
Before hitting the river, we made a base camp at the Hampton Inn in Texarkana. There, we had the good luck of finding two local eateries — Cattleman’s, a traditional steak house with a traditional clientele and satisfying food, and La Fogata Bar & Grill, a family spot on highway on the Arkansas side of the border.
At our first stop in the morning, Cooper Lake, we ask the state park warden about water levels. She told us that they had been low for a long time and that the lake was vulnerable to yo-yo-ing supply. Now, however, the water line was pretty high and we lingered at a high point by the lake.
Related: Tracking down good reads on Texas rivers.
As we headed downstream, the only access to the Sulphur was usually along lonely county roads and bridges of dubious integrity. At places, it looked like recent floods had inextricably tangled the trees and brush along the shore. Slowly the hardwoods turned to pines as we reached Wright Patman Lake, a lovely spot, if empty on this winter day. We did encounter a flock of pelicans on an arm of the lake, an exciting turn of events.
We made sure to stop at a little park just below the dam that impounds Wright Patman. It was there that we were reminded that the spillways enrich the water with oxygen, which attracts fish and, thus, fishing humans. This is a weird little park off a busy highway, but that didn’t stop us from exploring.
We never really saw Lake Texarkana — couldn’t even find it on maps –but rather we stopped at a location downstream of Wright Patman just this side of the Arkansas border.
We’d wager that 95 percent of our state’s citizens have never heard of the Sulphur River, but in the world of far northeast Texas, it’s a pretty significant waterway, our 47th to trace.
UPDATE: A reference to Lake Texarkana could not be confirmed.