How was Caddo Lake created? Was it created by an earthquake like the Indian legend says?
Caddo Lake lies along the Rodessa Fault, which runs from just south of Jefferson over to the Arkansas – Louisiana border area. This geologic formation is associated with the historic Rodessa Oil Field and is responsible for visible shifts in elevation and the ancient drainage pattern in the area.
The New Madrid Earthquake, strongly felt along the Red River, occurred over a decade after the formation of Caddo Lake around 1799. It was then that the waters of the Red swept over the natural levee on its western flank forming the string of shallow lakes that created passage for steamboats and westward expansion.
I’ve heard of people finding pearls at Caddo Lake. Was there ever a “Great Pearl Rush” there?
Yes. It was a short and exciting time initiated by two finds by George Murata while working as a cook on the early oil rigs. Tiffany’s purchased the pearls for $1500 each and set off a rush to the “Big Lake” area of Caddo Lake. Pearls were taken from fresh water mussels of 3 types between 1909 and 1911 when the Corps of Engineers raised the dam at Mooringsport causing the lake to hold more water. This placed the mussel beds out of reach by locals finding them with their bare feet and stopped the activity.
There were many pearls of varying quality found. Buyers were on the lake paying cash on the spot for quality finds. Hunters would yell out “pearl” and the buyer would come offer to pay in bullion or greenbacks.