As a result of rapid industrial development and the changing demands of an evolving economy during the late 1940’s, the people of the Sabine River area, both in Texas and Louisiana, realized a need to provide for the future of the area.
In 1949, the Texas State Legislature created the Sabine River Authority of Texas, followed immediately by the Louisiana State Legislature in 1950, who created the Sabine River Authority, State of Louisiana. Together, these two bodies were given the duties of conserving and developing the waters of the Sabine River Basin for beneficial purposes.
In 1955, the seeds of Toledo Bend as we enjoy it today were sown by both Authorities cooperating under a memorandum of agreement. Studies were undertaken and the results clearly indicated the feasibility of such a project.
Toledo Bend is the largest man-made body of water in the South, and the fifth largest in surface acres in the United States. From the dam site, the reservoir extends 65 miles upriver to Logansport, Louisiana, and inundates land in Sabine, Shelby, Panola, and Newton Counties in Texas, and Sabine and DeSoto Parishes in Louisiana. It was constructed for the purposes of water supply, hydroelectric power generation, and recreation. In all, the lake normally covers an area of 185,000 acres.
The construction cost of about $70 million was shared equally by Texas and Louisiana. The cost included the entire project-land, dam, spillway, powerhouse, new roads and bridges, and clearing of boat lanes and shorelines. The states of Louisiana and Texas in 1959 arranged for the financing of $30 million in hydroelectric revenue bonds. The sale of electricity is the only source of income used to repay the revenue bonds and is one of the main sources for the Authority’s operation and maintenance.
Land acquisition began in 1963, with construction of the dam, power plant and spillway the next year. Following completion of the structures, the power plant began operation in early 1969. Toledo Bend Reservoir is the only public water conservation and hydroelectric project in the nation to be undertaken without federal participation in its permanent financing.