H. Allen Anderson

NORTH FORK OF THE RED RIVER. The North Fork of the Red River rises in central western Gray County (at 35°24' N, 101°05' W) and flows east for seventy miles across Gray and Wheeler counties. It is joined by McClellan Creek, its chief tributary, just west of the Wheeler county line. The stream crosses the 100th meridian into Oklahoma and flows east across Beckham County and then southeast to form the county lines between Greer and Kiowa, Kiowa and Jackson, and Jackson and Tillman counties. It joins the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River to form the Red River proper on the Oklahoma-Texas boundary northeast of Vernon, in Wilbarger County (at 34°19' N, 99°12' W). The basin is characterized by mostly flat terrain with local shallow depressions and clay loam and sandy loam soils. Vegetation consists primarily of water-tolerant hardwoods and grasses.

The upper North Fork was the scene of much activity during the Indian wars of the 1870s. On September 29, 1872, Col. Ranald S. Mackenzie mounted his successful attack against Mow-way's Comanche village on the North Fork east of the site of present Lefors. Col. John W. Davidson campaigned successfully against the Cheyennes along the stream during the Red River War in the fall of 1874. For years, beginning with the Adams-Onís Treaty of 1819, the North Fork was erroneously believed to be the Red River's main tributary; for that reason Texas claimed Greer County until 1896, when it was allotted to Oklahoma.

Ernest Wallace, Ranald S. Mackenzie on the Texas Frontier (Lubbock: West Texas Museum Association, 1964).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to:

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


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

Handbook of Texas Online, H. Allen Anderson, "NORTH FORK OF THE RED RIVER," accessed August 24, 2019,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

Get this week's most popular Handbook of Texas articles delivered straight to your inbox