Last week we looked at how Lake D’Arbonne was funded and political intricacies that took place to get such a beautiful resource built. Every town has a history and unfortunately the majority of this history dies with its inhabitants. Fortunately there are individuals that still remember the early days of work that went into getting the idea of Lake D’Arbonne off the ground. This activity pre-dates the political work and shows what a small community with big ideas can do when people work together for a common goal.
I had the good fortune to see Russell Adams at a local restaurant after the story ran last week. He told me an interesting story of the early days of work to get our lake built. The early work performed by these local leaders is nothing less than state of the art for public relations, marketing and concept development at that time in our countries history. A lot of leadership existed within our local communities.
Considering we will be formally displaying the 50th anniversary of the lake at the Sportsman Expo this week end, it is only fitting that we capture a final part of our Lake’s History.
In the 1940s a survey had been run to show an eighty foot contour line in our area. This line would then determine the ability of a body of water to provide enough potential energy to produce electricity if a dam was constructed. Long before this area had its’ survey run the federal government had a survey run for the Ouachita River Valley. In the 1930’s Rommel and Carpenter Dams were built in Arkansas by AP&L with supplemental funds provided by the Federal Government. A third extremely large dam was planned and was named Blakely Dam. Purpose of these dams was both flood control and hydroelectric power development. Construction was to begin in 1938 but a year later AP&L withdrew its’ six million dollar investment and the lake in Arkansas went on hold. In the late 40s the federal government decided to appropriate funding on its’ own for the construction of Blakely Dam. Since a potential dam on bayou D’Arbonne did not have the potential long term energy requirements to produce hydroelectric power, federal funds went to the Blakely Dam construction. The Arkansas inhabitants were relocated, graves exhumed and reburied on higher ground and in 1952 the gates were closed and Lake Ouachita was formed.
Our local leadership was not to be denied. Armand Rabun had the survey of a potential lake at an elevation of 80 feet above sea level. He was invited to a local J.C. meeting and presented his map and what this would mean to the area. The local J.C.s took this on as a project. They would travel to press conferences and put this concept before the local radio and television stations. Mr Rabun would be there to handle the technical questions. He was both a Civil Engineer and a Lawyer and was a capable speaker and handled the press and meeting-attendee questions very effectively. The J.C.s needed additional help and they solicited and received support from the Lions Club. Various groups and factions worked as one to accomplish the mission of building Lake D’Arbonne. With all the local support in place a lobbyist was brought in to assist. Then it was time for the bill to be introduced into the legislature. With Russell Adams, Alvin Green and Armand Rabun present in the House of Representative Chambers, the bill was introduced and passed to build Lake D’Arbonne.
This week end we will have the Union Parish Louisiana Sportsman Expo and a major part of this expo will be the 50th anniversary of the lake. Displays will be on hand to commemorate this anniversary.

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