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Little River

Length: 75 miles (121 kilometers)

The Little River is a river in Central Texas in the Brazos River watershed. It is formed by the confluence of the Leon River and the Lampasas River near Little River, Texas in Bell County. It flows generally southeast for 75 miles until it empties into the Brazos River about five miles southwest of Hearne, at a site called Port Sullivan in Milam County. The Little River has a third tributary, the San Gabriel River, which joins the Little about eight miles north of Rockdale and five miles southwest of Cameron. Cameron, the county seat of Milam County and the only city of any significant size on the Little River, was established in 1846.

The Little River and its tributaries provides a drainage basin of 7,560 square miles of flat farmland. The Little River is a slow moving body with no rapids, and therefore is not actively used for recreational canoeing or kayaking. The vegetation along its banks is primarily willows, cottonwoods, pecans, elms and sycamores. One of the few instances of commercial use of the river water occurred in the 1980s, when pumping facilities were constructed on the Little River west of Minerva to supplement the water supply of Alcoa Lake.

The Little River has had several names. In 1716, Domingo Ramon reached the river and he named it San Andres. When the Marquis de San Miguel de Aguayo found the river in 1719, he named it Espiritu Santo because he came upon it on the eve of Pentecost. Pedro de Rivera y Villalon found the river in 1727 and believed it was simply an arm of the Brazos. The name San Andres was generally used during the colonial period, however, in the early years of the Republic of Texas the river was called the Little River.

Artifacts have been discovered in the Little River valley, dating from the Archaic Period. These finds indicate the area has supported human habitation for several thousand years. Spanish explorers discovered members of the Lipan Apache and Tonkawa tribes living along the river in the early eighteenth century. The Indians were gradually displaced as European and American settlers began to arrive in the 1840s.