first long-distance telephone line was erected into the area connecting Minden
with Monroe. 1902 was also the
year that recorded an infamous duck hunt on Lake Bistineau. To see an article on
this published in Field and Stream, click here on "Murder
in the Marsh"
Bayou Dorcheat was soon to have another railroad bridge crossing just north of
present day I-20. The Minden East & West Railway was chartered in March 1906
by F H Drake and associates to build a railroad from Minden to Shreveport;
however, construction stopped after only eight miles of track had been built,
including the bridge over Bayou Dorcheat. Whatever the reason for stoppage; be
it cost overruns or simply lack of funds, the incomplete tracks did not lay
dormant, but were used to bring timber to a mill in Minden. Then in March
1909, the L&A purchased the ME&W and completed the line into Shreveport
by the end of the year.
- The vast commercial and community activities surrounding the Lake
Bistineau and Bayou Dorcheat area were now being supported by a significant
Railroad system with Sibley,La. as a major hub. The following schedule of
the passenger trains serving Sibley in Sept 1910 depicts the energy of
activity in the area that had been spawned by the earlier water navigation
provided by Lake Bistineau and Bayou Dorcheat:
6:10AM--L&A train #3 from Shreveport to Alexandria
7:00AM--SLB&S train #1 from Yellow Pine to Sibley
7:15AM--VS&P train #12 from Shreveport to Birmingham
7:45AM--SLB&S train #2 from Sibley to Camp Long
10:03AM--VS&P train #9 from Monroe to Shreveport
11:59AM--L&A train #2 from Alexandria to Shreveport and Hope*
12:20PM--VS&P train #1 from Chattanooga to Shreveport
12:30PM--L&A train #1 from Hope and Shreveport to Alexandria*
3:55PM--VS&P train#2 from Shreveport to Chattanooga
5:53PM--L&A train #4 from Alexandria to Shreveport
7:08PM--VS&P train #10 from Shreveport to Monroe
9:51PM-- VS&P train #11 from Birmingham to
service to Shreveport was provided by a connecting train from Minden,see 1906.
It was because of this extensive railroad system, the abundance of timber and
the close proximity to Bayou Dorcheat that International Paper Company officials
had at one time selected Sibley as home for a major Paper Mill. According to
Danny Hillidge, of Sibley, the local residents, aware of the strong
sulfur odor that would be emitted, protested and the Mill was built in
Springhill, La. instead.
The very first oil well was drilled in the Lake Bistineau area near Elm Grove.
Sometime during the late teens or early 1920s, a combination gas station,
restaurant,night club,etc. called the Dixie Inn opened on the west bank of
Dorcheat, by the bridge(see1857) over Bayou Dorcheat. It is believed that
the community we now know as "Dixie Inn" was subsequently named for
that business. The Sheppard family of Minden bought and reopened the
restaurant/club in about 1927 and operated it for a short time and subsequently
passed through several different hands and names before becoming the Lakeside
Inn during the 30s. During at least part of this time it was operated by the
Jones family of Minden that later operated the Southern Kitchen. It was a very
popular dance spot and restaurant during his time, and also was aided by the end
of prohibition, making alcohol legal.
The business thrived during the 40s as the war and the
Shell Plant were in full operation. However, as employment at the plant dropped
off after the war and the area was again voted dry in the late 40s, eventually
the business went broke. The business is now known as the Bayou Inn, owned
and operated by Earl Uzzle, taking over from the Walls in the early 90s.
The original bridge that spanned the Bayou and provided the
setting for the restaurant/club was later replaced by the "old 80"
bridge that was eventually closed and replaced by the current bridge located a
few hundred yards south. The "old 80" bridge was not removed however,
and still stands as a landmark to the original US Hwy 80 that spanned the US
from east coast to west coast. US 80 was replaced as a primary east-west
corridor with Interstate 20 in the 60s.
1923 - Coca Cola issued a "Trademark Registered
Bottle Pat'd. December 25, 1923". The bottle was made in Homer, Louisiana.
One of these rare bottles was found by Raymond O Parker, near Arcadia, La., near
the present site of Bonnie & Clyde Trade Days.
1929 - In 1928 Henry Ford retooled Assembly lines and started producing the
1929 Model A 2-door Sedan. This very popular model was produced for 4 years. Now
your asking what this has to do with Lake Bistineau..and I'm here to tell you
that there is a definite connection. You see, Lake Bistineau just happens to be
the home of one of the very few 1929 Model A 2-door sedans remaining at this
writing 2001. Long time Lake Bistineau resident Ray Shaw is the proud owner of
this very rare car. Not only is it rare but Ray has spent untold hours in
restoring it to its original and pristine condition.
Ray found a few fragments of the original paint and repainted it to the original
colors. If you'll click here
you will find a photo of Ray with his proud possession.
The Lake was given the designation as "The Lake Bistineau State Game and
Fish Preserve" by Legislation and the Conservation Commission was created
to govern the lake. (see 1969)
Killer tornado hits area. At four o'clock in the afternoon of 1 may 1933 a hugh
dark cloud came out of the northwest and swooped down on the east side of
Dorcheat Bayou, killing twenty-five and injuring over one hundred in the Minden
area. Buildings were shattered into debris as 150 homes were destroyed and over
300 damaged before the storm was finished.
The Lake Commission began construction of a dam to maintain the lake at a more
It was also in 1935,
While eating his lunch and taking a
break from constructing the Home Economics building at Minden High School, Mr.
Chas. Dickers probably found himself daydreaming about the future and the many
changes in store for later generations to come. Now, I take the liberty of
guessing his thoughts only because of what he did soon after finishing his lunch
that 11th day of December in the year 1935. Using his brown paper
lunch bag, he wrote a brief note about his present and the future. Mr Dickers
then took the paper bag, rolled it up and inserted it into a milk bottle that,
like the paper bag was left over from his lunch. After sealing the bottle using
brick mortar from his job, he then placed the bottle inside a wall of the school
building just before the final bricks were laid.I believe, from Mr. Dickers’ closing remark written on the brown paper
bag, that he was confident someone would eventually find his informal time
capsule. And, he was right, but not until his secret lay hidden for 35 years,
only inches from the thousands of students who passed through the building in
their pursuit of learning and yes, Mr Dickens,a lot of things did change……for the continuing saga of the hidden
milk bottle, we must now skip to the year 1970.I’ll see you there “for the rest of the story”..with photos.
The 1915 oil well was the first drilled in the vicinity of the lake near Elm
Grove, But the first well drilled in closest proximity to the lake was opened
near its eastern bank by DeSota Oil and Gas Co. in Bienville Parish in
The dam forming the 13,500 acre lake was completed, impounding Bayou Dorcheat
and several small tributary streams and creating a lake level of 137 feet, mean
sea level(MSL).(see 1951)
Fourteen bucktooth, rat-like nutria were brought to South Louisiana from their
native Argentina by E.A. McIlhenny of the Tabasco sauce family in 1940. They got
free and soon there population grew to the millions, with Lake Bistineau
becoming home for more than a fair share of the destructive critters. " I
have heard that they are eatable --- if you add a lot of Tabasco
As part of the pre-World War II buildup, what is now named the Louisiana Army
Ammunition Plant (Laap) was established on the western boundary of Bayou
Dorcheat, at the mouth of Lake Bistineau.
1941 also brought to the banks of Dorcheat Bayou a U.S.Army General to train
troops in preparation for war. Soon after, General George C Patton went on
to become a famous person for the significance of his leadership during the War.
He was especially remembered for chasing Rommel across the desert.
J C Merritt was a young boy and fishing Bayou Dorcheat as a fairly regular
routine...Now before I go any further with this story I must tell you that 55
years later, fishing is still a fairly regular routine for J C. Anyway, back to
the story... It was around this time when J C and his Dad, Charlie were fishing
about where Old Cooley Creek emptied into Dorcheat and they found an old dugout
canoe that was mostly submerged in mud and water. It was so big and heavy that
they could not retrieve it so they brought some old wagon wheels down to the
bayou and managed to haul it to the bank where they cleaned it up.
The dugout was about 18 to 20 ft. long and appeared to be very old and carved by
hand. It had a hole in one end where J C believes a shaft of some kind was at
one time used to propel or guide the craft. J C and his Dad plugged the hole,
added a motor and for a time used the dugout as their fishing boat. J C recalls
that "the motor would really push it along pretty good, but when you got it
moving along it was anything but easy to get it stopped. J C's brother and
cousin, after returning from WWII also used it when fishing for a while, however
the dugout met it's destiny later when vandals broke the lock used to secure it
and it was last seen years later, broken and sinking near the Doyline/Sibley
It is my belief that this old canoe was likely designed and built earlier by
some Coushatta or Choctaw Indians that used Dorcheat Bayou for their fishing and
commerce. Probably some of the same Indians that J C's Mom told him about seeing
near their home in the 20s and 30s. Their home was just north of Dixie Inn on
the Bellevue road and the Indians would pass near by in route to and from Bayou
Dorcheat. It is also possible that the canoe was used by residents of Overton
Settlement before being abandoned or lost before being found later
by J C and his Dad.
C now lives with his lovely wife Dot in Sibley, where if you pass by early
enough you will probably see his truck and boat heading to the lake. I just have
to wonder sometimes... is J C really fishing all those times out on the lake or
is he out there hoping to hook that old canoe?
It was also along about this time that another one of those Sibley/Bistineau
boys, specifically named, Raymond O Parker- who writes "ROP"on
his ice boxes- was learning to squirrel hunt. It seems that on this one day when
Raymond was out with his Dad hunting near their home around the Salt Works Area,
Raymond's Dad having spotted this squirrel up a tree, was telling Raymond to
"just back up, he's on top of the limb..back up some more so you can see
him.." and Raymond just kept backing up and backing up and backing up
and backed right into a big old Brahma Bull. We can only imagine what happened
then..and I'll bet the squirrel even enjoyed it. Raymond has a sign in the back
window of his truck that reads something like.."Work is for someone that
don't like fishing"..so I guess Raymond switched from hunter to fisherman
after the squirrel got him introduced to the Braham Bull.. I haven't seen any
Rodeo signs on his truck..but I'm told he wears spurs when he goes squirrel
hunting..well, at least I think I was told that. Maybe it was Raymond's
pretty wife, Murlene who told me that..maybe not...
JC tells me that Raymond has a set of fish weighing scales that are
somewhat unique..JC tells about this one fishing trip where Raymond caught a
fish that looked to weigh about 1 pound, but according to Raymond's scales,
weighed 2 pounds. Later, JC caught a fish that was about twice the size of
Raymond's fish, but when Raymond weighed it...it only weighed 1 pound...hmmm.
Raymond was recently telling about catching around 100 fish,"about 25 of
them were good ones" as he was indicating on his arm from the elbow to the
tips of his fingers. Questioning the size Raymond was indicating, Curtis Taylor
asked him if anyone saw these fish and Raymond replied that he never let anyone
see his fish because then they wouldn't believe how big they were.
Many of you might have seen the alligator that hangs out around the Sibley/Doyline
Bridge. But have you seen the one that Raymond was telling us about that is
"two boat paddles wide between his eyes". Now that's a pretty good
size gator ....or could it be some pretty small paddles. I wonder just how much
that gator would weigh on ROP's scales...."just back up Raymond, just keep
on backing up, back up a little more Raymond......"
The Chestnut Blight was found in New York in 1904 and quickly spread accross the
States. By 1950 the Blight was essentially eliminating the chestnuts and
chinquapin trees in the Lake Bistineau area.
- The level of the lake was raised to 141 feet (referenced to the National
Geodetic Vertical Datum). The top of the earthen embankment is 153 feet ngvd and
the spillway is 1200 feet long with twelve 6'x 6' gates, with the bottom of the
gates at 133 feet ngvd and the top of the spillway is 141 feet ngvd. At full the
lake has a surface area of 17,500 acres. At l34 feet the surface area decreases
to 7.500 acres and at 130 the surface would be reduced to little more than a
stream in the channel. Drainage area for the lake is 1,443 square miles.
The late Dr. Willis of the original Willis Knighton Hospital purchased 5 acres
on the lake near Gregg Lake where his nephew, Jim Howard played as a youngster
shooting moles and turtles with his pellet gun. Jim's Uncle and Aunt
have since passed on, leaving the property to Jim who now lives south of Dallas
but has plans to build his retirement home here soon. It seems Jim's hobby is
restoring scooters so if you happen to see a pristinely restored 1957 Cushman
Eagle scooter around the lake, its probably Jim's. Click here
for a picture of one of Jim's prizes.
state record bream was caught on Lake Bistineau by Grant M. Kelly in Sept. It
weighed 2 lb. 8 oz. and although it has been tied once in 1961, it holds the
number one slot in the state thru 1997. The Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries
Commission provides current records of fish caught at Louisiana
Fish Records. Also, for tips on crappie fishing, you might want to click
here on Crappie.
the heat of the night, back in 1964, Mrs. Bellissimo developed a sauce that has
created a national, make that international, sensation. The Anchor Bar in
Buffalo, New York is the undisputed home of the Buffalo Chicken Wing. Frank
& Teressa's Original Anchor Bar Buffalo Wing Sauce is the sauce that has
taken the humble chicken wing fromlocal reviews to national acclaim. "
What has this got to do with Lake Bistineau?..."
because everyone on the lake enjoys the Wings, and when the question of how they
got their name "buffalo wings" was raised at a steak cooking outing
hosted by Steve and Anita Shows, some three decades later, almost everyone
answered "I don't know".. except Jimmy Dent who answered " they
probably got started in Buffalo New York". Jimmy owns Jimmy Dent
Construction in Haughton and must be credited as a "thinking man".
The lake was almost impassable due to moss and hyacinths.
The three man Lake Commission, chaired by C.B.McDonald of Minden, began a
planned 5 year drawdown of Lake Bistineau by opening the gates on Labor Day and
lowering the lake level 5 ft..
The gates were opened for the second consecutive year at Labor Day and the lake
level lowered 5 ft.
Bayou Dorcheat has its headwaters in southern Arkansas and carries a large
quantity of gravel from there to be deposited near the head of Lake Bistineau.
Portions of this gravel proved useful as raw materials by the Caddo Indians and
much of the remaining gravel has been has since been removed by commercial
operations. In 1968 Gifford-Hill began expanding their sand and gravel
mining operations from Bayou Dorcheat further south to the area on the northwest
fringes of Lake Bistineau known as the Old Salt Works area. Local residents
complained that the mining would destroy fish and game habitat however no action
was taken by authorities until 1978.
The gates were opened for the third consecutive year on Labor Day and the
lake level lowered 5 ft.
The Lake Commission was abolished and all its powers and duties were transferred
to the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission. The gates were opened for
the fourth consecutive year on Labor Day and the lake level lowered 5 ft.
It was also
in 1969 that Bayou Dorcheat saw the last Passenger Trains pass over its waters.
Just as the railroads had replaced steamboats and wagons for passenger
transportation in the nineteenth century, so did automobiles, busses and
airplanes replace passenger trains in the twentieth century. The last passenger
trains though Webster Parish on the old VS&P line--owned by Illinois Central
at the time--ran between Vicksburg and Shreveport on 30 March 1968.
The last passenger trains on the old L&A line ran on 3 November
1969, when the Kansas City Southern's "Southern Belle" paused at
Minden on its final run between New Orleans and Kansas City. Another era in
transportation through our area had come to an end.
On 1 Sept. a restraining order was issued to the Louisiana Wildlife and
Fisheries halting the lowering of the lake. The scheduled drawdown was
part of the 1966 plan to draw the lake down each year for five years but camp
owners;Archie Collins,Lee R Clark and Thradie Cryer, filed suit stating that the
prior four drawdowns had only harmed the lake and their business. The Judge
apparently ruled against the camp owners as the gates were again opened for the
fifth consecutive year at Labor Day and the lake level lowered 5 ft.
1970 - 35 years after it was
built, the now old and deteriorating Home Economics building at Minden High
School was being torn down by employees of the Webster Parish School Board. One
of those employees was Raymond O Parker of Sibley. You might remember reading
about Raymond earlier from his encounter with the Brahma Bull in 1945. As
Raymond was tearing away the last of the old building’s walls, he founda milk bottle hidden in the framework of one wall. The milk bottle was
labeled “D. D. Lunsford, Phone 873, Minden, La.” and inside the bottle,
along with the residue of milk that had long since dried, was a note written on
a brown paper bag. The note had been written and dated by the builder of the
school building, Mr Chas. Dickers, some 35 years ago. It is evidenced from the
materials used in preparing his mini time capsule that Mr. Dickens had finished
his lunch that day in mid December 1935,wrote
the note on his lunch sack, rolled it up, placed it into the milk bottle and
sealed the bottle with brick mortar from his job.
Mr. Dickens wrote:
11th 1935 Minden, Louisiana
I have just
finished this building for Minden High School.
Prof Richardson is Pres, Mr. Knigh which is building foreman.
You find this there will be a
great many of changes.”
I do not know anything more about
Mr. Chas. Dickens, other than what he wrote on his lunch bag.I have been told that Lunsford’s Dairy was located just north of Minden
on the Lewisville Rd. and closed operations around 1946-47. If anyone knows more
about either and would like to share, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For the sixth consecutive year the gates were again opened on Labor Day
and the lake level dropped 5 ft.
The proposed Lake Bistineau Biological Station to be located adjacent to the
state park and operated by the Shreveport branch of the Louisiana State
University would be the only fresh water biology station in Lousiana associated
with a university acccording to Dr. Bobby F Dowden associate professor of
biology sciences. Dr Dowden said many groups and individuals had given their
support to establishment of the LSUS satellite, amoung them Governor Edwin
Edwards and local and state officials. Research possibilities include such
subjects as fertilizer and insecticide effect on the lake and its fish
population, recreational development on the lake's physical and chemical
condition, numbers and distribution of fishes and their food and the effects of
water level fluctuation on plant and animal life.The first years proposed budget
of $55,900 was apparently never funded and the research facility never
Someone took a cutting torch to the spillway gates causing thousands of dollars
in damages in an effort to prevent the lake from being lowered. However the
drawdown went on as scheduled. The gates were opened at Labor Day and the lake
level dropped 7 ft.
- This is a true fish story.
I had been catching some real good strings of some fairly large
bass out of my camp on Toledo Bend and had photos to back up the catches. Upon
showing the photos to Gerald Glover, the "Boone and Crocket" of
Claiborn Parish, and a good friend to boot, I made an off the wall comment about
how "they were so many fish, you could just dip'em up with a net".
Well, Gerald took me up on my offer to show him where I had been catching the
fish and we planned a trip the next weekend. Well, as typical, when you
invite someone to fish with you the weather doesn't always cooperate. The
temperature dropped and the east winds howled. But we tried anyway. After a
couple of hours we had not had real good luck and were about to give up for a
while when Gerald decided to remind me of my earlier comment about "..so
many fish, you could just dip'em up.." It was sooner than the words left
Gerald's mouth that I spotted something in the water off a distance behind the
boat. It was at Gerald's back and he had not seen it. I calmly replied to
Gerald's comment by picking up the dip net, handed it to Gerald and told him to
"get ready in case a big bass swims by", for I had determined that
what I spotted was in fact a very large bass swimming near the surface of the
water. I pulled anchors and trolled near the bass about the time Gerald spotted
it and dipped it up. The fish weighed 8 pounds. I will repeat, this really
happened. You would have had to be there at the time to get the full benefit of
this happenstance, but it provided the substance for a lot of re-tells
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials issued a cease and desist order to
Gifford-Hill stopping all mining of sand and gravel from the Lake Bistineau
area. Officials stated that the operations violated the Federal Water Pollution
Control Act implemented in 1976.
also was the year that all gill netting and commercial webbing was banned from
"Bigfoot" like creature reportedly stalking Lake
Bistineau..."hey, check out the story told by a Koran resident at the Koran
The gates were once again opened at Labor Day and the lake level was lowered 7
The "Louisiana Invitational Tournament" was held out of the State Park
on Lake Bistineau drawing top fishermen from 25 states. The three day tournament
offered prizes of $75,000. A total of 543 fish were caught weighing 1530 pounds
with the largest at 6 pounds 15 oz.
On the 2nd day of January, 48 year old O.V.Stevens and his wife Betty, 38, their
three dogs and two pigs staked claim to Peggy's Island. They cleared about a
half-acre of land on the island and pitched at least four tents. They also built
a couple of lean-to structures, a "kitchen area" with a gas grill and
a stove, and a living area with a dozen chairs in a semi-circle, A gas generator
provided the electricity for their campsite. The Stevens shared the island with
75 year old Isaiah Herron, who lived on a houseboat anchored just off a pier.
Isaiah came to the island from Red River where authorities ran him off. They
intended to build a cabin, "homestead" the island and eventually clear
areas where families could rent tents and camp on the island, before Louisiana
Wildlife Officials sent them a letter in June saying that they had 72 hours to
vacate the State owned property. The Stevenses said at the time that they were
determined to stay on the island but the determination of the Wildlife
Department helped by one of the coldest winters on record led to the
demise of the "Squatters" on Peggy's Island.
Lake Bistineau experienced one of the coldest winters on record and the lake
froze over from bank to bank. Fortunate for the lake, this came during a time
when the lake was lowered7 ft., exposing acres of unwanted moss and water
hyacinths to the extreme conditions. This coupled with the spraying of 2,4-D
wiped out most of the hyacinths that had all but shut down the lake just prior
to the drawdown. One Water Hyacinth can produce 65,000 plants during a
normal growing season. The hyacinths double themselves every 10 days and the
flower produces a seed viable for at least 10 years.
Government officials warn that erosion of a ditch in the Stumpy Lake Swamp of
Loggy Bayou threatens to destroy the dam and drain Lake Bistineau within 15
years. Funding of $500,000 to stop the problem was appropriated by 1987 state
Legislature only to be axed in later budget cuts. The Stumpy Lake Swamp is under
the control of the La Wildlife and Fisheries and the Lake Bistineau dam is under
control of the La Dept of Transportation Division(DOTD). A study by the Soil
Conservation Service,now Natural Resources Conservation Service(NRCS), in 1988
reported six alternative potential solutions to the problem but because of
funding problems no actions were taken until 1996 when DOTD contacted NRCS for a
geotechnical investigation for a structure located in the Potts Bayou Ridge on
the spillway outlet channel. But again funding delayed the investigation until
1998 when the results were delivered to DOTD for their actions. See 1998
for updates on this issue as they become available from DOTD.
Force Brat catches “lake fever”…
has always been a catalyst for families settling in this area. And it is the
magnetism of Lake Bistineau that often times clinches their decision to make
this a permanent residence. As was the case of “Air Force Brat” (her words,
not mine), Vicky Gaynor.
Vicky was a Los
Angeles Californian at the time her Air Force parents settled in this area and
made Lake Bistineau their retirement home. Each summer found Vicky visiting her
parents and each summer it became progressively more difficult for her to leave
the enjoyment found on her parents houseboat. Ultimately, Vicky succumbed to the
beauty and magnetism of the lake and moved with her daughter to live at Green
Park. Vicky knew from that moment on she was in love with Lake Bistineau…but
what she didn’t know just yet was that she was destined to find another love.
He was drinking coffee at the Green Park Café, as was Vicky, when they met and
to quote Vicky, “the rest is history”. Vicky Gaynor Pullig and her family oftwenty-four, which consists of her parents, siblings, spouses, nephews,
nieces, and grandkids all live here now and enjoy the lake.I met Vicky via the Doyline Methodist Church and know we can all be glad
she and family were drawn to our community.
The Louisiana Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries granted to the La. Army Ammunition
Plant a permit to withdraw water from Lake Bistineau through an intake structure
later constructed on Bayou Dorcheat just north of the Doyline/Sibley Road
Bridge. This permit included the development of a conservation zone extending
100 feet from the bank of Bayou Dorcheat along the entire boundary of Laap and
the bayou requiring the land be left in a natural state with no harvesting of
At 147.5 feet (flood of '91) the lake surface area was 26,500 acres (9000 acres
under flood) Click here
for Flood Record
also brought to Fairview Point the one Stephen J Shows where he and his lovely
wife Anita reside and host the annual Memorial Day Celebration each May.
Visitors to the Point are often overheard discussing the legend of Peggy's
Island and the capture of Spanish outlaws on Fairview Point(see 1830) . Click
here on Memorial
Day for information about this important celebration.
New channel markers were installed on the main channel by LWLF at an estimated
cost of $50,000.
was also the year that the LDEQ sampled Lake Bistineau for possible
mercury contamination. Bistineau was one of twelve lakes in NW Louisiana
selected for testing by the LDEQ. Although five of the twelve were found to have
levels of mercury concentration above acceptable limits, Lake Bistineaus levels
(0.49 ppm) were within acceptable limits and no health warnings were necessary.
Lake Bistineau was given a five star rating for the best place to water ski in
the entire State by Louisiana Life Magazine.
This is also the year that your's truly retired after 33 years at the
Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant and started assembling the information that you
see here on this page.
Hydrilla was first noted in the summer when one small plant cluster was found.
This is the year that yours truly(yes, me, I, myself, Joe D.) developed
one of the most surest ways for a man to get in trouble with his wife...Step 1-
Take her fishing and Step 2- Let her catch a 2 and 3/4 pound crappie and Step 3-
Take a picture of her with the fish and Step 4- When she goes to put the camera
away........fillet the fish. If you have any doubt about the severity of
an act such as this, just try it sometime..but don't say that I didn't warn you.
Hydrilla plant colonies and matted fringes were discovered throughout the lower
7 miles of the lake and a drawdown began on Labor Day, however due to excessive
rains the lake level failed to drop significantly. The last drawdown was in
Also DOTD officials prepare to take bids on
a new Bistineau dam and bridge structure. The estimated $4 million contract was
scheduled to be awarded in November 1996 however DOTD had to later change the
location of the new bridge to ease construction and this delayed plan
production(see1998). More information on road construction projects in the area
can be found at DOTD.
Even though the lake level did not fall to levels expected by the lake
officials, the strong currents created by the flooding rains that came during
the "96 drawdown period appear to have flushed a significant amount of the
unwanted Hydrilla out of the lake. As a result, another drawdown attempt in 1997
will not be necessary. Even before the gates were closed in early Feb, 1997, the
water level was pouring over the top of the spillway and continued to rise to
146.5 foot MSL or 6.5 feet over the spillway before the rains finally subsided
in late april. This was 1 foot below the flood of '91, when 9000 acres of
normally dry land and dwellings were inundated by floodwaters. Click here
for Flood Record
DOTD reports that plan preparation for the new bridge construction was in the
final stages and bids should be received by the end of the year. The new
bridge is to be located 120' north of the exiting bridge and will span the
entire lake (approx. 7800'). DOTD states that concrete piers will be used in
construction and lowering of the lake will not be necessary. Estimated project
costs have increased to $12 million.
Heat Wave" brought the hottest month ever recorded in weather history at
Lake Bistineau in July with triple digit temperatures reaching 107. Daily high
temperatures for the month averaged 100.7 degrees.
The latest information I have on the "erosion" problem that threatens
to destroy the dam and drain the lake is from the State Wildlife and Fisheries
office out of Baton Rouge which states that "the erosion has slowed down
alot because it has reached the live timber, but is still moving toward the dam
and will have to be dealt with sooner or later. Funding is a problem." I
have sent an inquiry to the Shreveport District Administrator for DOTD but got
no reply.(see 1986 for more details on the erosion
January ended with a deluge of rain that not only recorded the month as one of
the wettest Januarys in this area but raised Lake Bistineau's level to 145.5
feet MSL, cresting on 2 Feb. Click
here for Flood Record
As of March '99, word from Baton Rouge DOTD about the new bridge construction at
the spillway is: Plans are being wrapped up for final distribution within the
Department for one last review in hope of taking bids this summer. More info on
the bridge can be found in '96 and '98.
The heavy rains of late '98 and early '99 also washed down
the Swepco poles that spanned the spillway on the Loggy Bayou side, leaving the
high voltage lines swaying in the water. Swepco, faced with this problem before,
apparently decided to fix it right and replaced the conventional poles with
concrete structures on each side of the water, spanning the high voltage wires
high above the waters. This appears to be a permanent fix to a prior recurring
The Aquatic Plant Research and Control Section of the Louisiana
Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries surveyed aquatic weeds on Lake Bistineau this
summer. No salvinia was found during those surveys. However, with the recent
introduction of Giant Salvinia to Toledo Bend and the close proximity of Lake
Bistineau, Mr. Malcolm L. Leatherman, Aquatic Plant Biologist for District III
office-LDWF, Alexandria believes it to be only a matter of time before we
discover it here. He further reports that with the right growing conditions,
salvinia can become a major problem in many of Louisiana waterways. The LDWF is
currently not funded to treat salvania as it requires specialized herbicides
that cost in excess of $100.00 per gallon. Mr. Leatherman requests that anyone
hearing reports of or spotting salvinia on Lake Bistineau contact the LDWF, so
that its presence can be confirmed and documented. For description of salvinia
click here Giant Salvinia
Thanks to information provided August '99,by Mr. Stephen J
Shows of Fairview Point,the Bistineau Bridge Repair has been rescheduled once
more. This information in the form of Senator Foster Campbell's, "Summer
"99 Legislative Report" states that the long awaited project to
stabilize the Lake Bistineau Dam and replace the Louisiana 154 bridge over the
dam is scheduled for bid-letting in January 2000. According to the report,
Campbell said "It is scheduled for construction next spring, and I am
urging the state Dept of Transportation and Development to uphold that schedule.
DOTD says the new bridge will cost an estimated $13.5Million with federal
funds paying the bulk of the costs. State funding sponsored by Campbell will
provide the estimated $1 million cost for dam stabilization involving dirt work
and removal of vegetation to control erosion.
It is November '99 and very dry!!! so dry, that
the lake level has been well below the spillway top for several weeks. The only
water escaping into Loggy Bayou comes from a leak in Gate #2, (numbered east to
west)where the water is venting through a 2.5" gap under the gate. This
problem was created earlier when a boat was swept into the gate causing damage
that prevents the gate from fully closing. Because Loggy Bayou is so low(one can
walk across it immediately below the spillway)the "leak" can be seen
spewing water, otherwise one would not know that there was a problem.
was also the year that the Webster Parish Police Jury attempted to
"give" the Dorcheat Public Ramp to Dixie Inn. There is apparently more
to come on this issue... because of public outcry, the Jury had to take it
back..temporarly or permanent? that's the question..
The Louisiana Dept. of Transportation and Development's Project Engineer for The
Lake Bistineau Bridge Project reports that significant geotechnical(soil)
analysis in the lake revealed a great number of problems building the new dam in
Lake Bistineau. Because of these problems extensive changes were required of the
plans and required right of way. These new plans were reportedly completed in
August '99 and the DOTD's Real Estate Section is doing new appraisals and
purchases... The bid-letting date of January 2000 earlier reported by Senator
Foster Campbell has now been delayed to January 2001. According to DOTD,
"this delay is unfortunate but does not appear avoidable".(See 1996
for original bid-date)
The below normal lake level of the summer and fall 0f '99 has not been helped
any with the warm and dry start of 2000.
January and February were recorded as the warmest on record in U.S. history,
averaging 5 and 8 degrees above normal.
It seems the weather around Lake Bistineau may not be the only thing setting
new records for 2000.
On the 22nd of Feb., Tony Snyder of Bossier City pulled in a 9 lb 9
oz Bass while fishing the lake with my neighbor, Steve Thompson. Unfortunately,
there are no official records kept of Lake Bistineau fish, so this could
possibly have been a record…but, not for long. On 21 Mar., Kenny Miller of
Shreveport, reeled in a 12.1 lb Bass. A big CONGRATULATIONS to both for some
MIGHTY FINE catches.
August 2000 set
an all time record for the driest month ever recorded in the lake area.
On 5 Sept the DOTD workers opened the gates of the spillway for the 11th time
since 1951. The lake level reached the targeted drawdown of 134 feet MSL at the
end of October but was short lived as the rains came!!!..Click here on Drawdown
for more info.
It seems 2000
was not yet finished in setting weather records as November closed with the most
days of rain of any November to date, finishing third in the most rainfall for a
November on record. Record rainfall continued through December.
See Facelift for
latest reference to Bridge construction Project.
The gates were opened in September 2000 and the lake bottom and the pesty weeds
were expected to be exposed to the winter elements, but unfortunately January's
record cold temperatures and significant accumulations of ice and snow were
preceded by record rainfalls in Nov and Dec. Even though the gates remained wide
open, the lake was at or near flood stage during the entire month. This
marked the second consecutive and unsuccessful attempt to expose the lake
bottom to freezing temperatures..the other being in "96/'97.
Bids for the new bridge at the spillway were let in January and construction
activities started in April.
2002 - The
"Foster Campbell Project" to remove hazardous stumps from the lake has
apparently been cancelled. According to Bossier Parish Police Jury minutes of 3
July 2002, the deadline for utilizing the Funds for this project will expire 6
2002 - New
Bridge was opened for traffic before year end, well ahead of
2003 - A dry
summer kept the lake levels abnormally low. It was rare to see water flowing
accross the top of the spillway as pool levels were kept low by high evaporation
and low rainfalls. An increase in nuisance aquatic vegetation was evident
especially in the upper parts of the lake as well as in the pockets and shallows
Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries sees the nuisance vegetation
problem as a threat to the life of the lake. The LDWF is proposing to dewater
the lake for three consecutive years beginning mid-July 2004. This proposal was
formally submitted to the Webster Parish Police Jury for their consideration on
4 January 2004. More discussion on this issue is certain to come considering the
lake would be without water during three consecutive peak summer recreation
seasons. Stay tuned..
July 2004 -
Once again, the planned drawdown has prompted a lawsuit. Billy Pesnell, a
Shreveport Attorney representing the Lake Bistineau Preservation Society has
filed a suit seeking to stop the drawdown. The ruling on this injunction is
planned for 14 Jul 2004.
began on 15 July as planned and on 8 Sept the lake level reached the targeted
period of low water, Ron Tracy discovered the remains of a old sunken boat about
three miles upstream from Morgan's camp on Dorcheat. It could very well be
remains from the early days of heavy commercial boat traffic.
The late Beth Drew Weaver for inspiring me to dig into the lake's
history. Mike Adkins, owner of LakeBistineau.com for teaching me how to
publish on the web Helen Pate of Ringgold, La, my mother-in-law, for loaning me her
Bienville Parish History Book. Susan McCain,Baton Rouge DOTD Project Coordinator for the Lake Bistineau
Bridge Project Patsy Roach of Doyline, La for providing extensive documentation on
Cultural Resources of this area. Dorothy Y. Bryant for "The History of Lake Bistineau1971". Robert A. Hanneman,Dept of Sociology, University of California, Riverside
for his help on salt works at Bistineau E.J. Giering
III, PE-PLS, Assistant State Conservationist,Engineering Services, NRCS for
his help on the "erosion problem". Vicky Pullig of Doyline, La for her copy of a 1939 article on Lake
Bistineau. James Daniel for information about the Hay Meadow Dispute of 1896. Stephen J Shows of Fairview Point, for info about the "Bridge
Construction" as well as many constructive reviews of the History
page. John Agan, Historian from Minden, La. for information about Dixie
Inn..(the business and the town,1920) Also, the historical significance of the
Dorcheat Railroad Bridge to Webster Parish in 1884. Malcolm L. Leatherman, Aquatic Plant Biologist, District III office-LDWF,
Alexandria, for infomation on Giant Salvinia. Joseph C Merritt of Sibley, La. for finding the Indian dugout in 1945. Michael M. Palmieri of New Orleans ( http://lrs.railspot.com
) for information about the Dorcheat Railroad bridges built in 1884 and 1907,
details on the SLB&S Railroad in 1899 and other interesting info included in
1885,1898,1906 & 1969. Danny Hillidge and Earl Smith Jr of Sibley, La. for additional
information about the Sibley Railroad in1899 and the Dorcheat swing span bridge
in 1884. Drew White for information about the Overton Settlement. Webb Stewart for providing copies of his collection of documents and
articles about local history. Clifton D. Cardin, Bossier Parish Historian, for his study of
Doyle Williams, for additional information about Allentown
Wiley Hilburn,Dept. of Journalism, LaTechUniversity, Ruston & Columnist
f/Shreveport Times for article on 1896 Drought. James Seales, La Wildlife & Fisheries, District 1 Supervisor, for
providing information on the 2000 Drawdown.
Gregg Trusty, Bossier Press-Tribune, for article on Drawdowns.
Clint Land, Bossier Press-Tribune, for article on Facelift.
Teri Bailey, Bossier City/Bossier Parish Reporter, The Times, for article
about New Bridge
Construction and Stump Removal.
Bill Murrell, Meteorologist, National Weather Service, Shreveport, La., for
article on Historic Floods.
Ray Shaw and his 1929 Model A
Jim Howard and his 1957
Scooter Kelly M Kemp, Engineer DOTD, for summary of new
bridge project. Ron Tracy, Thanks for suggesting the book "Edge of the
Sword" about reconstruction in and around the Lake.
I have left anyone out or have infringed on anyone's copyrights, please let me
know and I will correct it immediately. This is strictly a non-profit, for fun
only exercise. Thanks, to everyone. Joe D Hinton