EDITORS NOTE: Today most people only know that Caney Creek Reservoir and Caney Lake State Park is considered one of the jewels of Sportsman’s Paradise, as the state is called. The question is how many know of the two decades worth of countless trials, tribulations, pitfalls and roadblocks that had to be overcome or what role Woody McDonald, considered the man most responsible for the vision of a lake becoming a reality, played in changing the woods into water? Over the next several issues of the Jackson Parish Journal this exclusive series hopes to bring to light how woods became water.
(Ben Ledbetter, Journal Services) With a cup of coffee in his hand he opened the door to his truck and threw in the thermos that contained the rest of his “wake up” concoction. He knew he would be needing a lot of the caffeinated beverage as it was still going to be a while before the sun would appear in the eastern sky and he had a long drive ahead of him before he got to his destination.
There was really nothing special about that summer day back in 1966 or what he was going to do. It was something the Jonesboro resident had done virtually every Saturday morning during the spring and summer for a couple of decades. The avid outdoor enthusiast was going fishing.
Almost on “auto-pilot” he drove the roughly 60-mile route, finally arriving at the family camp just as the first streaks of light from the sun was beginning to appear over the lake. After several minutes of busy work making sure the boat was ready to go and all his gear was in place, he saw his friend he would be fishing with that day pull up. He too lived in Jackson Parish and had also left his house before the crack of dawn to make the long, arduous trip to get there.
The above scenario was something repeated day after day, month after month, year after year. It didn’t really matter where he went fishing, whether it be at Black Lake, Old Saline, Keppler, D’Arbonne, Claiborne or Lake Bistineau, there was always a long drive ahead to get there and again to get back home. It was the bane of loving to go fishing but living in Jackson Parish.
Each time while on a lake a gander at the houses and camps that lined the shores would bring thoughts of how nice it would be to simply step out of the house, walk down to the dock and in a matter of minutes be on the water. He loved to fish or just be on the water, but he was tired of having to make long trips to get there. The more he thought about it, the more he longed for the many wonderful scenarios having a lake in your backyard could bring.
What is more, in every perspective it just made good sense and there was really not a good reason that Jackson Parish shouldn’t have a lake. In roughly a 60 miles radius in every direction around Jonesboro there was a lake the residents of that parish got to enjoy the benefits of. Yet right slap dab in the middle of all the many fisheries around there was nothing.
Woody McDonald knew it was a good idea to have a lake in Jackson Parish. He also knew that seeing this take place had become so deep inhis soul that he had to see it through. Now it was the matter of getting it done.
Next issue…. In the beginning!
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