Caddo Lake-Home to the First True Offshore Oil Well in the World
Caddo Lake on the Louisiana/Texas border has one of the most storied pasts of all time.
Not only is Caddo, formerly known as Ferry Lake, home to the largest cypress forest in the world, the lake has plenty of legends to satisfy the thrill seeker in all of us.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, the great timber raft that clogged the Red River for nearly eighty miles above and below present day Shreveport and Bossier City disrupted the river's water flow and spilled into Louisiana's Cypress Valley and formed the lake around 1800.
That's Not The Story The Caddo Tribe Tells
However, legend has it that Caddo Lake, re-named to honor the area's Caddoan indigenous people, was formed when a Caddo chief failed to obey the Great Spirit, resulting in an enormous earthquake.
History buffs might also be intrigued to know that Caddo Lake is home to one of the largest inland boating accidents in the world. It all happened late in the night on February 11, 1869, when the steamboat Mittie Stephens burned and sank killing sixty one of its one hundred seven passengers and crew.
But Did You Know True Offshore Oil Drilling Began Right Here?
When most of us think of offshore oil wells, we think of the Deepwater Horizon or the thousands of wells dotting the Gulf of Mexico. Most would never imagine that Caddo Lake plays a pivotal role in one of the petroleum industry's biggest players.
Thanks to Doc Halliday, an author and columnist in Marshall, Texas, who penned an article in 2015 for marshallnewsmessenger.com, we also know that the roots of true offshore oil drilling stem from our own Caddo Lake.
I had heard the stories my entire life about the vast oil supply under Caddo Lake and that the incredible amount of oil platforms scattered across the Louisiana side of the border lake were living monuments to the humble beginnings of offshore oil drilling, but until Doc put it in print, there was no way to prove it.
If You Google "First Offshore Oil Well" You Won't See Caddo Lake
Visiting the website coastalreview.org, you'll read that offshore drilling for oil began off the coast of Summerfield, California when rows of narrow wooden piers were built as far out as 1,350 feet from the shore. However, that's not "true" offshore drilling.
Offshore, by true definition, means "situated some distance from shore." Not affixed to shore by a platform.
Building At The End Of A Pier Really Doesn't Qualify As "Offshore"
So, in actuality, in early May, 1911, when the Ferry Lake Number 1 oil well was completed by J.M. Guffey Petroleum Company, who drilled a considerable distance from shore, it became the first truly offshore oil well.
Doc wrote in his 2015 article,
Guffy Petroleum Company, which would become Gulf Oil Company, and is now Chevron, repeated the process 250 times on the lake. Simple wooden derrick platforms were constructed and drilling equipment floated to the drilling sites on barges. This was the birth of offshore drilling production worldwide.
And while I'm praising others for their journalism prowess, I'm reminded of the late Paul Harvey; "And now you know the rest of the story."