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Caddo Lake

Caddo Lake lends itself to both Louisiana and Texas. It is an extension of Big Cypress and Little Cypress Rivers in Marion and Harrison Counties in Texas, and it drains into the Red River. This is the largest natural lake in the South. Spaniards, said to have been the first whites to find the lake, referred to it as Laguna Espanola.1

It is possible to see wild water turkey, quail, blue and white herons, and pelicans around the lake. The water teams with crappie, bass, perch, buffalo, drum, gar, and catfish. At one time, the lake also had mussels.

In 1909 fisherman Will Teel and Tom Allen discovered pearls in mussels in Caddo Lake. People were able to find them for a handful of years after that. Some larger pearls were found, but the majority was small, bringing in low prices. When a dam was constructed east of Mooringsport in 1914, the water levels rose and the mussels died.2

        J. A. L. Waddell and John L. Harrington, well-known bridge engineers, designed a 575-foot-long steel bridge in Mooringsport on Highway 538. Midland Bridge Company of Kansas City oversaw the construction of this one-lane bridge across Caddo Lake. It consists of seven spans resting upon concrete piers with the third span lifting vertically to allow oil drilling equipment, mainly Gulf Oil Company’s pile drivers, to travel into Caddo Lake. A steel tower at each end of the lift held the pulley cables and the counterweights. 3 It is the only surviving vertical-lift drawbridge in Louisiana, and the only surviving example of a steel through-truss center-lift bridge in the state.4

In the summer of 1941 Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower
and George Patton came here to practice maneuvers; this
included the capture of the bridge and bombing it with sacks of flour. It was opened until 1989, when a new bridge was constructed near it
.5 At that time, the bridge was slated for demolition. The structure was saved and was rededicated on October 14, 1995.6 It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1996.

            Caddo Lake also had a resident monster. In the late 1960s several people reportedly saw an eighteen- to twenty-foot creature in Caddo Lake. The monster became known as “Cypress Cindy.” 7 The Lake was also home to the Opelousas catfish, which supposedly weighed 800 pounds. 8

Text Box: Drawbridge over Caddo Lake
Mooringsport, August 1921







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Parish of Caddo 2004©


Images provided by LSUS Archive and website content written by Monica Pels