History

Lilies growing in the waters of Caddo Lake with tall trees beyond.Scientists believe Caddo Lake formed when floodwater, blocked by massive log jams on the Red River, backed up into the Cypress Bayou watershed.

Caddo Lake was artificially dammed in the early 1900s, when oil was found, and for flood control in 1914. A new dam replaced the old one in 1971.

Earliest visitors

People have lived in this area for at least 12,000 years. For centuries, they hunted and gathered among the wetlands, forests and broad floodplains. Then they began to settle in permanent villages.

Sometime in the late 18th or early 19th century, Caddo Indians settled on this rich land. According to tribal legend, “water thrown up into the drift along the shore by a wind” formed Tso'to (Sodo) Lake. Leg­ends tell of the formation of the lake and Sha'childi'ni (Timber Hill), the first and last known Caddo village in this area.

The Caddo built ceremonial centers and maintained far-reaching trade routes. To sustain themselves, they hunted wild game with bows and arrows, fished, and farmed corn, beans and squash.

Building a park

Civilian Conservation Corps

Imagine yourself with little food, less money and no job. This was the case for many Americans during the Great Depression.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1933. The CCC provided jobs and job skills by hiring young men to work on conservation projects. The program enrolled men between the ages of 17 and 25 who qualified for public assistance. They earned clothing, food, medical care and $30 a month; they sent much of the money home to their families.

Historic features

CCC boys at work on Caddo Lake facilities.Civilian Conservation Corps built the first structures of this park. Company 889 began the work, in June to November of 1933. Company 857 continued con­struc­tion from October 1934 to March 1937.

CCC workers converted 15 U.S. Army barracks and an Army mess hall into the nine log cabins and group recreation hall that we use today. Other facilities still in use include picnic sites, Park Road 2 and trails. Look for the CCC pavilion and rem­nants of original picnic sites and a latrine along the trails.

More information

 


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