Shortly after moving to East Texas we discovered Jefferson and Caddo Lake. My mom became the Director of Nursing at a private hospital in Jefferson and my family spent many hours water skiing at Caddo.
Jefferson was founded around 1841, located on land ceded from the Caddo Indians. At that time a log jam more than 100 miles long existed on the Red River near Natchitoches, Louisiana, known as the Great Red River Raft. This Raft acted as a dam and raised the level of Caddo Lake and the Red River several feet creating the Big Cypress Bayou at Jefferson. This event permitted commercial riverboat travel to Jefferson from ports such as St Louis and New Orleans. During the Civil War Jefferson was one of the most important ports in Texas. A few years after the war the population of Jefferson exceeded 30,000 making it the sixth largest city in Texas at the time. In 1873, the Army Corps of Engineers were able to clear the raft from the Red River, this cause the water levels to drop to a levels that resulted in the end of riverboat traffic to Jefferson to cease. A few years later the population dropped to about 3,000.
What remains today is a town with a population of a little over 2,000 people. Jefferson is a town full of history – almost every commercial building and house on the main roads in Jefferson have a Texas historical marker. A visit to Jefferson is like stepping back in History.
Caddo Lake is one of the only natural lakes in Texas. Caddo covers over 26,000 acres making it the largest natural lake in the south. The lake begins in Karnack, Texas on its western edge and empties into the Afchafalaya River, the Mississippi River, and the Gulf of Mexico. Half of the lake is located in Texas and half in Louisiana. Caddo Lake is the home of one of the largest cypress forest in the world. This area is a must for fisherman, nature lovers, and photographers.
Points of Interest:
Caddo State Park
Caddo Lake Tours
Marshall, Texas – Marshall Pottery – Wonderland of Lights – Fire Ant Festival
Jonesville, Texas – TC Lindsey General Store – has been in operation since 1847
Jefferson, Texas – Jefferson Railway – Jefferson Ghost Walk – House of Seasons Tour – Excelsior House Hotel – Jay Gould’s Railcar tour – Paddlewheel Steamboat – numerous antique/gift shops