Four dams had been planned along the Sabine River

Proposed damsI came across this article from a February 1964 edition of The Houston Chronicle.  Very interesting… curious as to what happened to the larger scale plans…  As an additional note, I did find other mentions of the dam projects in 1960s newspapers, with particular mentions of the “huge” Bon Wier dam… at least one of the article stated that the dam projects should all be complete by the year 2020… which I’m sure seemed like a life time of years back in the 60s, but now… not so much.

The following Houston Chronicle article was written by Bob Bowman, Chief of the Chronicle’s East Texas Bureau.

CENTER, Texas– For longer than most people care to remember, Sabine River leaders have been hearing towboat whistles in their dreams.

They have envisioned long strings of barges plying the river between Longview and Orange, bringing new prosperity to East Texas.

Today, instead of a bewhiskered vision, navigation on the Sabine– most prolific of Texas’ rivers– looms as an early probability.  Construction could begin in 1967 or 1968.

The river’s canalization timetable is geared to a four-year study of the stream by U. S. Corps of Engineers, but Sabine leaders feel the study, when complete in mid-1966, will show that the project is economically feasible.

Biggest reason for thir optimism is the $60 million Toledo Bend dam project, which will create a 70-mile lake spanning more than a third of the distance from Longview to Orange.

“The Toledo Reservoir should enhance greatly the feasibility of natigation on the Sabine,” D. N. Beasley of San Augustine, president of the Sabine River Authority of Texas, said.

“Not only will it create 70 miles of uninterrupted waterway for barge traffic, but its releases will greatly improve the stablized flow of the river below the dam.”

When the twin Sabine River authorities of Texas and Louisiana award a dam contract in mid-March, it will include provisions for future navigation accepted by the Corps of Engineers.

Encouragement for early canalization of the SAbine has also come from a voluminous river study by Forrest and Cotton of Dallas, SRA engineers.

The report shows that navigation is “an engineering possibility” and pinpoints probable locations of three additional dams that would be needed to stablize the river’s flow and depth.

These include a 45-foot dam at Bon Wier, in Newton County, a 40 foot dam at Stateline, near Logansport, La., and a 50-foot dam near Carthage, in Panola County.  Beasley calls these “small dams” in comparison with Toledo Bend’s 110 foot height.

The Bon Wier dam, about 100 miles from the Sabine’s mouth, would primarily creat a regulatory reservoir to catch releases from Toledo Bend and stabilize their flow.

Conversion of the Sabine to canalization will be a “simple thing” compared to the enormity of the Trinity River project, Beasley said.

Still another factor in the navigation proposal is the Sabine’s discharge, 6.8 million acre feet.

SRA members will start pushing for early canalization after their Toledo Bend project is past the point of no return.

The authority is completely in accord with navigation,” says Beasley, “but we’ve got to put Toledo Bend first.”

State Sen. Martin Dies Jr. Of Lufkin believes navigation on the Sabine will be the turning point of East Texas’ economy.

The Corps of Engineers study is underway by Corps distrit offices in Fort Worth and Galveston.  It began in 1962.  The current appropriation by Congress for the study totals $115,000.

The study also embraces water supply, drainage, flood protection, and pollution.

Improvements to a minor segment of the Sabine canal, from Orange to Echo, already have been approved by Congress.  Planning for this is underway by the Galveston Distrit Office.

There has also been discussion, but no study authorized, of a canal linking Toledo Bend Reservoir and Sam Rayburn Lake on the Angelina River.  Proponents say a 10-mile canal would provide the Lufkin-Nacogdoches area with a vital outlet to the Gulf Coast by way of hte middle Angelina and lower Sabine rivers.



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