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LAKE ANAHUAC

LAKE ANAHUAC. Lake Anahuac, once known as Turtle Bay, is forty-five miles east of Houston in western Chambers County (at 29°47' N, 94°42' W). In 1900 the Farmers Canal Company began pumping water out of what was then called Turtle Bay to irrigate rice fields. The depletion of fresh water led to an encroachment of salt water, which in turn forced the newly formed Trinity River Irrigation District to construct a barrier across the mouth of the bay; the bay had been declared nonnavigable in 1902. In 1915 a hurricane destroyed the bulkhead, and salt water again threatened both the bay's ecology and area farmers. In 1931 the Lone Star Canal Company began rebuilding the saltwater barrier. Despite protests from oil, shell, and barge companies, the United States War Department decided to close the entrance to Turtle Bay in 1936. Construction of a new dam, levee, and spillway began on March 17, 1953; by that time the reservoir had been named Lake Anahuac. The ten-foot hydraulic fill embankment, completed in July 1954, increased Lake Anahuac's storage capacity from 17,000 to 35,300 acre-feet. The lake is fed by the Trinity River and has a drainage area of 199 square miles. By 1984 Lake Anahuac supplied the needs of irrigation, local industry, and mineral extraction. It was operated by the Chambers-Liberty County Navigation District.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 
C. L. Dowell and R. G. Petty, Engineering Data on Dams and Reservoirs in Texas (Texas Water Development Board Report 126 [3 pts., Austin, 1971–74]). Jewel Horace Harry, A History of Chambers County (M.A. thesis, University of Texas, 1940; rpt., Dallas: Taylor, 1981).

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Handbook of Texas Online, "Lake Anahuac," accessed December 07, 2016, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rolaf.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.