Where Geography Shaped a Distinct Culture.
The region surrounding Caddo Lake is ideal for establishing a National Heritage Area; supported by ongoing restoration and preservation of local habitats, and the historic value of the area. The Caddo National Heritage Area will include a series of public trails, an education center, and amenities that support visitation by educational groups and tourists.
[ supporting documentation ]
National Heritage Areas represent the national experience through the physical features that remain and the traditions that have evolved in them. They are places where natural, cultural, historic and scenic resources combine to form a nationally important landscape arising from patterns of human activity shaped by geography.
We believe the creation of a National Heritage Area will maximize the livelihood of the community and the potential for commerce. Advocates for Caddo Lake and the surrounding communities seek a National Heritage Area designation from Congress for a 900 square mile area around the lake. This area includes Jefferson, Texas as the western anchor.
Caddo Lake History
Caddo Lake lies along the Rodessa Fault, which runs from just south of Jefferson over to the Arkansas – Louisiana border area. This geologic formation is associated with the historic Rodessa Oil Field and is responsible for visible shifts in elevation and the ancient drainage pattern in the area.
The New Madrid Earthquake, strongly felt along the Red River, occurred over a decade after the formation of Caddo Lake around 1799. It was then that the waters of the Red swept over the natural levee on its western flank forming the string of shallow lakes that created passage for steamboats and westward expansion.
Historical Events and Leading Characters
Around the end of the 17th century, a massive log jam called the Great Raft (actually a series of log jams) began forming on the Red, backing up the river upstream from present-day Natchitoches, Louisiana. By 1805, the Great Raft covered over 100 linear miles of the river, creating a series of raft lakes that flooded low-lying areas and backed up tributary streams.
[ more about the Great Raft, www.texasbeyondhistory.net ]
There were many pearls of varying quality found. Buyers were on the lake paying cash on the spot for quality finds. Hunters would yell out “pearl” and the buyer would come offer to pay in bullion or greenbacks.