An ambitious plan was begun in the 1850's to make the Trinity River navigable from Dallas to Houston, using a system of locks and dams. The project never really got off the ground over the next hundred years, and it failed in a local bond election in 1973 that would have funded the initial construction. The only remaining vestige of the project is the tall I-20 bridge that crosses the river in southern Dallas County, and a partially-completed canal lock farther north at McCommas Bluff.
Read an article from the Dallas Daily Times Herald dated April 16, 1894, concerning an excursion from McCommas Bluff to Dallas on the riverboat "Harvey," that includes opinions on what the river navigation project could do for the north Texas economy.
McCommas Bluff in south Dallas County was the location for the planned and platted Trinity City, one of the completed Trinity River canal locks and the lock keeper's residence. The Saille Haynes, a river boat, made several trips between Dallas and Magnolia before it became obvious that the river was not friendly to paddle-wheel boats.
Directions to the McCommas Bluff Nature Preserve
From I-20, exit at Dowdy Ferry Road and turn North. Go about a mile-and-a-half and turn left (West) on Fairport. Turn left (South) at the first intersection at Riverwood and follow the signs to the parking area.
(Dallas Mapsco 68 A-B)
Google Earth Coordinates:
GPS directions to the old Canal Lock: N 32° 41' 35.44"; W 96° 41' 29.42"
GPS directions to the site of Trinity City: N 32° 41' 38"; W 96° 41' 09"
Sources: Handbook of Texas online, Dallas County Parks Department, Dallas Times Herald archives