The Deepest Lake in Louisiana Isn’t the Lake You’re Thinking
Louisiana has some wonderful lakes, but most of them aren't very deep, relatively speaking.
Toledo Bend, on the Louisiana border with Texas, might just be the state's best-known lake, but is it the deepest? Is White Lake the deepest? Lake Pontchartrain?
The answer will surprise you - if only for a split second.
Grand Lake in Cameron Parish is impressive-looking on a map, taking up over 42,000 acres. At an average of 8 miles across, Grand Lake sits about 12 feet above sea level, but it doesn't get much deeper than its elevation. Grand Lake, at its deepest, is around 15 feet.
Toledo Bend is the 5th-largest man-made lake in the country, and it is huge. At its widest, it's 10 miles across. And for length, it comes in at an impressive 65 miles.
But, it's not the deepest.
The average depth for Toledo Bend, according to Wikipedia, is 24 feet. Deep, but not the deepest.
Sabine Lake, in Cameron Parish, is another impress-looking lake when you judge by size.
The lake sits along the Sabine River and straddles the Louisiana/Texas state line and, when you look at a map, it looks comparable in size to Calcasieu Lake.
But, save for any pilot channels, the 10 ft average depth of Sabine Lake comes nowhere close to the max depth of the state's deepest lake.
Calcasieu Lake, located near Lake Charles, covers a massive 76 square miles of real estate.
Known for great fishing, we've pulled lots of Redfish, Speckled Trout, Drum, Croaker, and Flounder from Calcasieu Lake. But, as far as depth goes, outside of the pilot channels you'll find an average of only 3.3 feet, according to Wikipedia.
And this brings us to Lake Pontchartrain...
Lake Pontchartrain is massive. Measuring about 40 miles long and nearly 25 miles wide, the lake covers 630 square miles and touches 6 parishes.
The lake, which sits just north of New Orleans, not only has a huge footprint, but it is deep, too! Averaging 12-14 feet, Lake Pontchartrain, at one point, gets as deep as 65 feet in at least one area.
So, at 65 feet at its deepest, this makes Lake Pontchartrain Louisiana's SECOND DEEPEST lake.
So, what is the deepest lake in Louisiana? First, let's take a little history lesson.
The deepest lake in Louisiana wasn't always Louisiana's deepest lake. At one time, it was "just another lake", until one fateful day in 1980.
That gave it away, didn't it?
On November 20th, 1980, Delcambre's Lake Peigneur was the location of a drilling rig incident that would forever change the landscape of that lake.
If you recall, a Texaco oil rig was doing some exploratory drilling in Lake Peigneur, looking for oil.
The oil company was using a technique called "directional drilling", which allows them the option of drilling at an angle, not just straight down from the oil rig.
Under Lake Peigneur, though, there was more than just oil; there was salt.
A salt mine had been pulling salt out of caverns below Lake Peigneur since 1919 and, for reasons still (claimed to be) a mystery today, one of the caverns was pierced, eventually sending a cascade of water into the salt mine.
Luckily, no lives were lost in the tragedy, but the resulting sinkhole swallowed up acres of land, several barges, one tug boat, and the drilling platform itself.
Several documentaries about the tragedy have been produced and they give a pretty good idea of the dangers the salt miners were faced with on that day.
As a result of the incident, Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish went from a maximum depth of around 10 feet to its current maximum depth of about 200 feet, making it Louisiana's deepest lake.
Now, let's take a look at the beauty of another Louisiana lake, Lake Martin.
16 Photos from Lake Martin, Louisiana