Wichita River

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: January 1, 1996

The Wichita River, in the Red River basin, heads in three branches. The North Fork rises six miles east of East Afton in northeastern Dickens County (33°45' N, 100°39' W) and flows east 100 miles through northwestern King, southern Cottle, and southern Foard counties to meet the South Fork and form the Wichita River proper in northeastern Knox County (33°43' N, 99°29' W). The Middle Fork rises in north central King County (33°46' N, 100°19' W) and flows northeast thirty-five miles to join the North Fork in southwestern Foard County (33°52' N, 99°55' W). The South Fork rises in eastern Dickens County (33°41' N, 100°38' W) and flows east through King and Knox counties for about 100 miles to its confluence with the North Fork near the Knox-Baylor county line in northeastern Knox County (33°43' N, 99°29' W). From the junction of its headstreams the Wichita River flows northeast across northern Baylor, northwestern Archer, southern Wichita, and northwestern Clay counties for ninety miles to join the Red River just west of the Byers bend in northern Clay County (34°07' N, 98°10' W). The river passes through the city of Wichita Falls, which was named for a five-foot waterfall that subsequently washed away. The Wichita is dammed in Archer County to form Diversion Lake, which stretches back into eastern Baylor County, and in central Baylor County to form Lake Kemp. There are also two small reservoirs on the Wichita in Wichita County; one, with a capacity of 292 acre-feet, supplies water for the town of Iowa Park; the other, with a capacity of 554 acre-feet, is owned by the Gulf Production Company and used for irrigation.The river flows through predominantly flat terrain where water-tolerant hardwoods, mesquite, and grasses cover clay loam and sandy loam soils. The Wichita was named for the Wichita Indians. There was a large Indian village at the site of present Wichita Falls as late as 1841, when the Texan Santa Fe Expedition crossed the stream there.

An Analysis of Texas Waterways (Austin: Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, 1974). Dickens County Historical Commission, Dickens County: Its Land and Its People (Lubbock: Craftsman Printers, 1986).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Wichita River,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 25, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/wichita-river.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1996