Love Lake Bistineau? Here’s the Tale Behind the Waterway!
Did you know that the Caddo Indians moved to the area inhabited by Lake Bistineau now between 500 B.C. and 900 A.D?
Lake Bistineau is a lake located in Webster Parish, Louisiana and it's known as a great place to fish, camp, kayak, etc... when it's not overrun by Giant Salvinia. It also has a long and storied history. The lake was first formed due to log jams as early as 1400 - 1500 A.D according to LakeBistineau.com. That was the time of the Great Raft, which was really a bunch of logs, debris, and junk that all got cemented together backing up the Red River. Because of this, a backwater (Lake Bistinieau) was formed as well as Bayou Dorcheat, Lake Bistineau, and Loggy Bayou.
Finally, because of more flooding around 1600, the Caddo Indians were forced to leave the area. By the 1700s, the area was so flooded and the water so fast, that if they wouldn't have cleared the 'Great Raft' in 1873, Lake Bistineau would literally be the Red River now! Fun fact, the work started by Captain Henry Miller Shreve to clear the Red River in 1833 took 40 years to complete because the 'Great Raft' partially reformed during the Civil War. It also took 20 years for the channel of the Red River near Shreveport to drop 15 feet!
In the time since the Caddo Indians left, the Lake Bistineau area also played host to the Choctaw and the Koasati or Coushatta Indians. Native Americans are responsible for the name of Lake Bistineau aka "Bistino" or "Big Broth Lake."
Interestingly enough, the Lake Bistineau State Park website says the lake was formed in 1800 by flooding of the Red River because of a log jam. That's a lot later than the dates given on the Lake Bistineau website. However, both websites agree that the Lake Bistineau Dam was built across Loggy Bayou in 1935.
One thing is for sure though. Lake Bistineau and the Red River played a major part in how and when our area was populated. It's amazing how a body of water can change the history of an area so substantially. To read a more in-depth history, click here for the Lake Bistineau website!