Right now, you can't miss the wildflowers, particularly the Texas bluebonnets blanketing the sides of the road. The blooms are a seasonal reminder of our state's natural beauty. But the fact is Texas' natural beauty is always in season.
Caddo Lake is our state's only natural lake, home to 216 bird, 47 mammal, and 90 reptile and amphibian species. In recent years, the lake has been under siege by an invasive, non-native plant, the giant salvinia. I worked closely with the Caddo Lake Institute, founded by Don Henley, who was raised nearby, and the Texas Water Research Initiative, to obtain funding to help eradicate the giant salvinia. The lake and its diverse native plants and animals are now recovering, and future generations will be able to enjoy its pristine beauty.
Caddo was first seen by Native Americans in the 18th century, but substantial development would only begin with invention of the steamboat and US annexation of both Louisiana and Texas in the 19th century. The cities of Port Caddo, Swanson's Landing, and Jefferson in Texas, and Mooringsport in Louisiana, had thriving riverboat ports on the lake. Gradually as the log jams were removed in the lake and the Red River by Captain Henry Miller Shreve and then by the Army Corps of Engineers, the lake changed shape and eventually fell over ten feet, destroying the East Texas ports and their riverboat industry.
Industry once again came to Caddo Lake with the discovery of oil beneath it. The world's first over water oil platform was completed in Caddo Lake in 1911. The Ferry Lake No. 1 was erected by Gulf Refining Company. The well bottomed at 2,185 feet (666 m) and produced 450 barrels per day (72 m3/d).
Oil derricks sprang up throughout the lake, around the turn of the 20th century, further damaging the fragile ecosystem. The oil industry left Caddo for richer fields at Kilgore and other locations in Texas. Texas tried to preserve parts of Caddo in 1934 by establishing a State Park, constructed by the WPA. The establishment of the Longhorn Army Ammunition Plant on the shores of Caddo, in the mid 20th century, polluted large portions of the surrounding wetlands until its closure in the 1990s.
An ecologist named Lionel Janes conducted a survey of Caddo Lake (called Ferry Lake at the time) in 1913 and 1914. Based on an examination of cross sections of baldcypress and hardwood trees and many dead stumps he estimated that the lake came into existence sometime between 1770 and 1780.
Interpretive Guide to Caddo Lake State Park , (PDF 1.4 MB)
Watch YouTube video of the Park
Activities: Activities enjoyed include camping, hiking, picnicking, nature study, fishing, and boating. There are canoe rentals in the park daily (year round). There are pontoon boat tours leaving from inside the park Saturday and Sunday (March â€“ November). Pontoon boat tours can be scheduled for other days by calling (903) 930-0075. Jon boat with motor rentals can be found outside the park about 6 miles away.
History: This lake was the only natural lake in Texas until it was artificially dammed in the early 1900's when oil was found and for flood control in 1914. A new dam replaced the old one in 1971. Caddo Indian legend attributes the formation of the lake to a giant flood. Scientists believe the lake formed when floodwaters, blocked by massive log jams on the Red River, backed up into the Cypress Bayou watershed, forming the lake.
The park's original improvements were made by Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). Begun by Company 889 in June to November of 1933 and completed by Company 857 between October 1934 and March 1937. The U.S. Army had 15 barracks and an Army mess hall that were converted into the 9 log cabins and group recreation hall that we use today. There is also a CCC pavilion and remnants of original picnic sites and a latrine along the trails.
Natural Features: Caddo Lake State Park gets its name from Caddo Lake, a sprawling maze of bayous and sloughs covering, 26,810 acres of cypress swamp. The average depth of the lake is 8'-10' with the deep water in the bayou averaging about 20.' An angler's delight, the lake contains 71 species of fish. It is especially good for crappie and large-mouth and white bass. Naturalists can enjoy stately cypress trees, American lotus, and lily pads, waterfowl, alligators, turtles, frogs, snakes, raccoons, minks, nutrias, beavers, squirrels, armadillos, and white-tailed deer."
On This Day:
Great Exhibition opens, May 1, 1851:
"On May 1, 1851, the Great Exhibition opens to wide acclaim in the Crystal Palace in London. Inside the Crystal Palace, a giant glass-and-iron hall designed by Sir Joseph Paxton, more than 10,000 exhibitors set up eight miles of tables. Technological wonders from around the world were on display, but the exposition was clearly dominated by Britain, the premier industrialized nation and workshop of the world. Conceived by Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, the Great Exposition was a rousing success, hosting 6 million visitors before it closed in October. The many goods displayed ranged from kitchen appliances to false teeth, silks to farm machinery."
As you can tell by the layout of this post, I still haven't been able to fix the Error 401 between Live Writer and this blog. It is so frustrasting drafting in Blogger. The pictures wind up in the strangest places, and you have to fight them to get them to stay put. Live Writer is so much easier, as it drafts just like it is going to look when published, instead of this little window that isn't even in the same font as when it is published.
Misty and I went to get Jay, as he was chomping at the bit to go get his ATV from the repair shop. But first I had to finish packing an RV water heater door that I had sold, so it could be taken to the Post Office on the way. Then we opened up the cargo trailer, and took some more pictures of the inside to add to the For Sale ad for it The drapes aren't done yet, but at least we can get people interested in it. We were dragging our feet about leaving, as I was expecting a phone call from an RV-Dream chat friend, to meet them too.
The call never came, so their chat friends are worried about them, as they haven't been in the chat for two days.