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By Raymond Powell

DeSoto Parish was a very unlikely place to ever be considered an area for water commerce being situated primarily in the hills between two rivers, the Sabine to the west and the Red River to the east. Of course, originally DeSoto reached from the small Sabine River to the larger Red River. By the time DeSoto was developing into a large cotton exporting parish Red River Parish was formed in 1871 and all fertile bottom land to Bayou Pierre was given to Red River Parish.

Let’s consider how Bayou Pierre became a source of water commerce for DeSoto Parish. By the early to mid-1800’s settlers began moving westward in greater numbers and they found the area without roads – mostly trails used by the Indians and buffalo. It was hard to eke out a living without being able to get their cotton, animal skins, syrup and other products to market. Fortunately, the steam engine had been invented and adapted to use on boats. This made it possible for steamboats to travel on the small streams that regular boats could not navigate.


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