Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Coronary heart of Louisiana: Toledo Bend Reservoir


NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – In the 1960s, Louisiana and Texas had a really big idea. Build a dam on the Sabine River, the border between the two states, and create a huge reservoir and generate electricity too.

A few rainy days can make the spillway roar on the dam at Toledo Bend Reservoir on Louisiana’s western border.

“A copy of this overflow can be seen through the various gates we would have,” says Barton Rumsey.

Rumsey, a retired engineer, recalls building the Toledo Bend Reservoir in the late 1960s. He began working for the Sabine River Authority in Louisiana a few months after the dam was completed.

“It takes a little traveling, you know, it’s way back inland,” says Rumsey.

Rumsey’s job was to design roads and recreational areas along the coast of the new reservoir, the largest in the south. The 185,000-acre man-made lake begins near the town of Logansport and extends 65 miles south to the dam at the south end.

“Lots of commercial activities along the coast of the reservoir Marinas, boat docks. So subdivisions are developed, developed, people move in, ”says Rumsey.

The water that goes into the reservoir even comes from the north of Dallas. An overflow regulates the water level. This overflow current is only 10 percent of its capacity.

On the Texan side of the two-mile-long dam, the reservoir feeds the hydroelectric power station. The income from the stream helped pay for the construction of the reservoir, which Louisiana and Texas built with no federal dollars.

And how much electricity can you generate here in the plant?

“You have two units and we now have an output of 75 megawatts. That’s probably enough to power a town the size of 10-15,000 people, ”Rumsey says.

But the biggest perk of the Toledo Bend Reservoir and Dam seems to be recovery. Especially fishing.

“Toledo Bend was voted the state’s best perch lake by perch fishermen a few years ago,” says Rumsey.

There are also two state parks on the Louisiana coast. There is North Toledo Bend near the city of Zwolle and South Toledo Bend State Park near the Anaoco Dam.

“It’s something everyone should visit and enjoy because it is theirs,” says Rumsey.

And that was your job to shape part of that development in the early days. Did you think, ‘Yeah, it sounds great, but I don’t know if that will ever happen’? “

“Well, it’s one of the things you plan for and you know that hopefully your plans will come true,” says Rumsey.

And after a lifetime of working on the dam and creating more public access to this huge reservoir, it is clear that some of those plans have come true.

For more information on the Toledo Bend Reservoir and the State parks Visit in this area HeartofLouisiana.com.

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