Lake D’arbonne’s 50th birthday celebration wouldn’t be complete without re-running this story. Part 3 of a 3 part series.
Mr. Alvin Green stood at the end of the fishing pier at the Lake D’Arbonne State Park and looked out over the water in the 15,000 acre lake. The 88-year-old surviving member of the original lake commission that oversaw building the lake is still amazed at what he sees.
“This State Park is way more than I ever imagined that we’d have here,” he says. “This land used to belong to the Elliot’s. He used to be coach. They’ve got 600 acres. It is sure a nice place…a great asset to Bernice and Farmerville. It stays packed with campers in the summer. When my folks come up to visit, they always get a cabin.”
“I still can’t believe this lake has created so much excitement over the years,” he says. “It wasn’t all good.”
Green recalls that when the spillway was first closed in the early 1960′s, the plan was to fill the lake to
pool stage, leave it for a while, then lower it back down five or six feet for a time so people that had property on the lake could build boat docks or piers or do anything else they wanted once they saw where the water level would be. Filling the lake was amazing. It took the lake less than a month to go from empty to full. That part all worked fine, but when word spread that they were going to lower the lake that far down, people were in an uproar.
“Harry Cook worked for the Wildlife and Fisheries and lived in Farmerville. He was in charge of opening back up the gates to lower the lake down. People went wild and it was so bad that one of our local representatives got the Sheriff involved and they went down and threatened to arrest him. He left and they put locks on the gates and left it full.”
There was more. “People got so mad they kicked us all off the lake commission,” he says with a laugh. “That wasn’t such a bad deal either. Frankly, going through all that wasn’t anything but a pain. We had to beg for money through three governors. They started building Toledo Bend at the same time and we had to fight with them for money for our little lake. By time lake was built, I was glad to get off it. We didn’t get any pay, we just got criticism. It was quite an experience.”
Would he do it again? “Oh sure. I’m glad I was able to have a part in getting the lake built.”
Me, too. I think I’ll go catch a fish to celebrate!