One Saturday afternoon my father told me to go with him for a ride.  I was in the first grade at the time and anytime my father wanted me to go with him I would pile into the car without question.  That day was special.  We drove out of town toward Sterlington on highway 2.  When we reached four way grocery he turned right.  What seemed like an eternity for a six year old he finally stopped.

He and I walked down to the bank of the slowly moving Bayou D’Arbonne.  Rocks were neatly placed along the bank and into the water.  More rocks were on the other side coming out of the water.   He told me that this was a ford where wagons use to cross.  Then he looked at me and said that there would be a dam built right where we were standing and we would someday have a big lake.

At that time D’Arbonne was a slow flowing bayou that emptied into the Ouachita River.  West of Farmerville at a place called Forks Ferry the Little D’Arbonne and Corney   Bayous converged to form the D’Arbonne.  Garr would splash and snakes basked on the banks and downed trees.  At night frogs would be waiting for the taking as men would ply the water edges with long poles that had a paddle on one end and a frog gig on the other.

Then one day the rains began and it didn’t stop.  What is known to engineers as the hundred year storm had hit.  The quiet tranquil waters of the D’Arbonne became a torrent.  The crossing ford overflowed as did the rest of the bayou’s banks.  The water continued to rise.  My father’s new creosoting plant was located on the old highway 15 and it  too succumbed to the rising water.  The water stopped rising at an elevation on the road near the entrance to the D’Arbonne Lodge.

Today we have snow days for school and if it looks like there could be heavy rains the schools close.  Not so in 58.  The school children from homes south of Bayou D’Arbonne would take the bus to the area near Folly Beach.  At that point the children would board a Louisiana National Guard truck and go through the water, across the old bridge and get off on dry land and load a bus for a ride to school.

One day my father showed up at school and picked me up from Mrs Harsten’s class.  We got into his aluminum boat and fought our way through the trees and surveyed the damage at the plant.  Surprisingly, very few houses were damaged.  More flood damage is seen today when the lake floods.  Later we drove over highway 15.  This is the road that now runs by Wade Marine.  The water had dropped and was just below the level of the road.  He told me that this would be the level of our new lake. Six years later following construction of our spillway by Robbie Sims Construction, the lake became a reality.  We had only received a glimpse of what a coming when we experienced our flood of 58.

I have decided that when I write my last column it will the story of how Lake D’Arbonne received state funding.  I think it will be entertaining but I plan for that to be a long time in the future.


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