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FERRY LAKE. The lake we know today as Caddo Lake was during the Republic of Texas period typically referred to on maps as Ferry Lake (after Schenick’s Ferry just east in Louisiana). This lake, along with Clear Lake, Shiftail Lake, and Sodo Lake, were formed in the spring of 1800 when a break in the natural levee of the Red River, caused by the Great Raft of the Red River, sent floodwaters into the Cypress Bayou lowlands in southeastern Marion County and northeastern Harrison County. 

Prior to the removal of the Great Raft, Ferry, Clear, Shiftail, and Sodo lakes, along with Cross Lake west of Shreveport, formed a single sheet of water often collectively referred to as Sodo Lake. Early settlers and surveyors in Harrison County often referenced Ferry Lake (modern-day Caddo Lake) as Clear Lake, although the actual Clear Lake was some distance away north-northeast of Mooringsport, Louisiana.

Once the Great Raft was finally cleared from the Red River in 1874, water levels in the lakes fell an estimated six to fifteen feet, and navigation, which had once brought great wealth to places like Jefferson at the western end of Ferry Lake, ended. Today, only Caddo and Cross lakes remain.


Hamilton McNutt, Shelby County, First Class, File 000145, Original Land Grant Collection, Archives and Records Division, Texas General Land Office, Austin. Texas Republican (Marshall, Texas), April 18, 1867. Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.

Max S. Lale, rev. by Jim Tiller

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Max S. Lale, rev. by Jim Tiller, "Ferry Lake," accessed December 12, 2017,

Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on November 29, 2016. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.