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Tensas River

Coordinates: 31°37′54″N 91°48′20″W / 31.63167°N 91.80556°W / 31.63167; -91.80556
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Tensas Bayou and Tensas River
Vertical lift bridge over the Tensas River at Clayton, Louisiana
Tensas Bayou and Tensas River
Physical characteristics
SourceLake Providence (oxbow lake)
 • locationLake Providence, Louisiana
 • coordinates32°48′45″N 91°11′31″W / 32.8126°N 91.1919°W / 32.8126; -91.1919
MouthConfluence with Ouachita River to form the Black River
 • location
 • coordinates
31°37′54″N 91°48′20″W / 31.6317°N 91.8056°W / 31.6317; -91.8056
Length177 mi (285 km)
 • locationTendall, LA (includes Bayou Macon)
 • average1,205 cu/ft. per sec.[1]

The Tensas River[2] /ˈtɛnsɔː/ is a river in Louisiana in the United States. The river, known as Tensas Bayou in its upper reaches,[3] begins in East Carroll Parish in the northeast corner of the state and runs roughly southwest for 177 miles (285 km)[4] more or less in parallel with the Mississippi River. The confluence of the Tensas and the Ouachita rivers, in Jonesville in Catahoula Parish, creates the Black River, not to be confused with Black Lake in Natchitoches Parish in north-central Louisiana.

For the twenty miles south of Interstate 20 between Delhi and Tallulah, the river winds its way through the Tensas River National Wildlife Refuge (in Madison, Franklin, and Tensas parishes), which was established in 1980 "for the preservation and development of environmental resources" about the river. In 1881 the Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to improve the navigation by removing ordinary obstacles.[5] The navigation work began at Dallas, a village on the stream in Madison Parish. The bottomland hardwood forest near the Tensas River is some of the remaining habitat of the Louisiana black bear.[6]

The name Tensas is derived from the historic indigenous Taensa people.[7] The first plantations along the Tensas River were established by settlers who had earlier plantations across the Mississippi River in the Natchez District.[8]

Bridge stamped with the Tensas River name

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "USGS Surface Water data for Louisiana: USGS Surface-Water Annual Statistics".
  2. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Tensas River
  3. ^ U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Tensas Bayou
  4. ^ U.S. Geological Survey. National Hydrography Dataset high-resolution flowline data. The National Map, accessed June 3, 2011
  5. ^ Benyaurd, W. H. H. (1882). Annual report upon the preservation of the ports of Memphis, Vicksburg, and Natchez : improvement of the navigation of Red River, Louisiana and of certain rivers in Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee; and water-gauges on the Mississippi and its principal tributaries, in charge of W. H. H. Benyaurd, being appendix P of the annual report of the Chief of Engineers for 1882.. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office., p. x.
  6. ^ Benson, John F., and Michael J. Chamberlain. “Food Habits of Louisiana Black Bears (Ursus americanus luteolus) in Two Subpopulations of the Tensas River Basin.” The American Midland Naturalist, vol. 156, no. 1, University of Notre Dame, 2006, pp. 118–27, JSTOR website Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  7. ^ Swanton, John Reed (1952). The Indian Tribes of North America. US Government Printing Office. p. 210. ISBN 978-0-8063-1730-4.
  8. ^ Owens, Jeffrey Alan. “Naming the Plantation: An Analytical Survey from Tensas Parish, Louisiana.” Agricultural History, vol. 68, no. 4, Agricultural History Society, 1994, pp. 46–69, JSTOR website. Retrieved 3 December 2021.

31°37′54″N 91°48′20″W / 31.63167°N 91.80556°W / 31.63167; -91.80556