(Editor’s note: Thanks so much to Mr. Robertson for sharing this article with us. He is a man filled with knowledge on the World War II Maneuvers in Louisiana, and is a passionate historian of military-related items and happenings as well as history of the region he calls home (including Sabine and Vernon Parishes).
Possibly the greatest fighting general in the history of the United States Army was General George S. Patton Jr. General Patton pushed both himself and his men during the Louisiana Maneuvers of 1941 tirelessly because he could see that America was being pushed into the war that was raging in Europe. Patton had been a mounted cavalry officer most of his career, and when he was chosen to become the commander of the 2nd Armored Division, many of the old mounted cavalry tactics that he had been taught he was able to use and perfect with his fast mechanized units.
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.
We received a request regarding photos and information on ferries which operated on the Sabine River before the bridges were built (most of the bridges that were added on the Sabine River were built in the 1930s). So I rounded up all the photos I had and grabbed up a few old newspaper articles and here they are. If anyone has additional photos, I would love love love to share them! They are really invaluable and I get so excited any time I come across one.
Every single time I see Toro Bayou (aka Toro Creek), I feel like I am either watching some cinematic production or looking through the pages of a story book. It is dreamy, it is surreal. It is a playground for a photographer!
While searching for something totally unrelated at the Sabine Parish Library, I came across rather fascinating articles on a local fisherman who apparently has been quite the celebrity in the fishing world.
The first article is from The Shreveport Times, entitled “The Quiet Champion” and dated June 2004; while the second is from LouisianaConservationist, entitled “The Best of the Bass Anglers” and dated September 1981.
In West Central Louisiana, in the middle of a 225-acre man-made lake at a State Park named Hodges Gardens, there stands a remarkable, gigantic house… seeming deserted, empty and lonely. Atop the peak of an island, the house seems to stand proudly as testament to its once glory, and yet simultaneously slouching, a bit ashamed of the shape it is now in.
After reading the previous article on the Miller Store, aka Castleberry’s, Janell Fitts Richards shared some great photos of the store (it was Castleberry’s when Janell was young, and was operated by Mrs. Castleberry who was the daughter of previous owner Mr. Miller).
“My mom remembers this store from her youth (she was born in 1924),” Janell explained. “It was Castleberry’s when I was young. I took my children there in the early 80s and it was a museum of all the old items that had been used in the store.”
These photos are so great, and I know will be appreciated by many. Thank you for sharing them with us, Janell!
January 2016- All working gates at the Toledo Bend Dam spillway were open at least one foot each (9 gates), emptying water from Toledo Bend into Bayou Toro and eventually downtstream into the Sabine River. Water was being released twenty four-seven to cope with flooding on the upper end of the Sabine River which resulted in high levels on Toledo Bend Lake. All this water being dumped from the lake rushed its way downstream, and was a heck of site to see (not to mention this created a feeding frenzy for seabirds waiting below the spillway for their meals to be delivered from the lake).
February 2016- No spillway gates are open and no water is being released from Toledo Bend downstream, as the lake level has subsided to pretty much normal. All is quiet on this part of Toro Bayou and the Sabine River now… it is like a whole different place than it was just a month ago!