Contrary to popular rural and redneck legend, Caddo Lake is not Texas’s only natural* lake. There’s also Big Lake, near the town of Big Lake.
Problem being, of course, that Big Lake’s water sources these days generally don’t flow. So Big Lake is often dry.
Which produces a further problem for site like Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub: If Big Lake is really a lake, why are there no photos of the lake with water in it?
A comment at AustinBassFishing.com got me thinking about this again, no photos of Big Lake as a Lake. In the previous post here, we featured a photo of Big Lake Playa, sans water. I searched the internet at the time and found no photos showing water in the lake. My authority on Big Lake, Brad Wachsmann, swore that he had recently seen water in the thing (“recent” being “in the last decade or so”).
So, sorta good news: A few photos of Big Lake, with water, plopped onto the internet since our last search. Here are a couple from Panaramio:
Water in Big Lake, near the city of Big Lake, Texas, laps at the State Highway 137 passing nearby. This photo comes from 2004, by doning.
Photo of water in Big Lake from June 2005. Photo by evansjohnc. This photo appears to be about midway along the intersection of the lake with State Highway 137.
Big Lake in its dry phase, from looking north from the southern end of State Highway 137’s transection of the lake. Photo by cwoods.
Non-historic marker for Big Lake, also along State Highway 137, looking west. Photo by cwoods. Photo taken during Big Lake’s dry humor phase.
Now: Can we track down the rumors of other natural lakes in Texas? Sabine Lake? Green Lake? Natural Dam Lake?
And, Dear Reader, can you find good photos of Big Lake with, you know, water in it?
* Is Caddo Lake a natural lake? Originally, the lake seems to have been formed by an enormous blowdown of trees, probably during a hurricane, well over 400 years ago. In that sense, it was a natural lake when European explorers first found it, and during all of Texas’s “six flags” historic periods. Or, what is known as the Great Raft, a log jam, dammed up the Red River near the confluence of the Big Cypress Bayou, in about 1799. By 1800, Caddo Lake was wet all year-round, and deep enough for shallow boat navigation. In 1835, Capt. Henry Shreve blew up enough of the logjam that steamboat traffic could get past (the guy after whom Shreveport, Louisiana, is named). After the Civil War, locals tried to expand boat traffic by completely removing the logjam. Instead of making traffic easier, this removal led shrinking water levels in the lake, and it destroyed navigation farther up the Red River. Several efforts to restore higher water levels achieved some success by about 1915. When oil was discovered under the swamp, pressures came from oil companies to make drilling easier — travel in the mud was difficult. After the invention of the Hughes drill bit (by Howard Hughes‘s father, the founder of Hughes Tool Co.) to allow drilling through water and mud into oil-bearing rock, a dam was built near where the logjam had been, to raise the level of what is known today as Caddo Lake. What is seen today is a human-enhanced version of the Caddo Lake known by the Caddo Tribe. This is all preface to the current Texas water wars.