Building a Dam: The making of Toledo Bend Lake

In May 1963, land acquisition for Toledo Bend Reservoir got underway.  Construction of the Toledo Bend Dam, which would halt the flow of the mighty Sabine River to ultimately create the lake, began almost one year later, in April 1963.  The dam and the spillway construction were initiated, along with the building of a power plant from which hydroelectricity would be generated.

The closure of the earthen embankment and the filling of the lake began in October 1966.

Here are a few photos of the construction of the Spillway and Dam.  The spillway was designed to provide the controlled release of flows from the dam downstream to the Sabine River, and to release flood water so the level does not get too high and overtop or damage the dam.

Here are some photos of construction of the dam and spillway.  I added some close ups of a couple of the photos… honing in on different parts of the original photo.

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6 thoughts on “Building a Dam: The making of Toledo Bend Lake”

  1. How interesting. Not one mention of the people who were uprooted from land that they had lived on for generations. Their recompense? Some got $25 per acre. Some didn’t even get that.

    1. I am a part of one of those familes that lost their land to the Sabine River Authority. I am a descendant of the Gomer and Low familes that have lived here since before Texas was a Republic. As I write this, I am sitting on what remains of our 200 acres (12 acres now) & looking out at the lake. Don’t get me wrong, we enjoy the lake, but the feelings of the old folks run deep – even after 50+ years. My Nana refused to sell and it was eventually taken through eminent domain at $99 per acre. A lot of folks we know sold out at much less.

  2. Very interesting history & enjoyed the pictures. Do you have any information regarding the roads that were eventually underwater. Did the State or Counties turn the left over roads that were not submerged to private landowners since road ended at water making the road useless or do they still own these roads?

    1. Some of the roads that were “black topped” along with a few dirt roads were used as boat ramps and camp sites such 1215 on the Louisiana side of the lake North of the Pendleton bridge. I can remember taking old logging roads that led to the lake and tent camping before any homes were built, fishing among all types of trees with leaves still on them, the fishing was spectacular!

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