PHOTO OF THE DAY: LAKE FRONT PROPERTY
This photo shows what the Lake Charles area looks like today — more than 80 years after it was a thriving recreational spot southeast of Freeman that was popular for boating and fishing, concerts, picnics and other social gatherings. The location is, from Highway 81 and Old 44, 2 miles east and 2 miles south.
Construction of Lake Charles (which may have been originally known as Charles Lake) started in 1934 and included the excavation of soil for a dam, and then the construction of a stone spillway.
However, as lifelong Turkey Ridge Valley resident Lyle Preheim writes in the Nov. 16 edition of The Courier, on one June evening of 1942, heavy rains of recent years that had taken their toll on the valley proved to be too much for the spillway to hold, and it cracked open.
As the rising water washed over the top of the spillway and cascaded down in a roaring waterfall, the layered stones beneath the increasingly strong cascade of water began to move. Soon the underlying sand was exposed, and the torrent of water cut down deep. As a result, the sand base on the lakeside of the spillway had no buffered support from the outside and it started whooshing through, sand and water exploding from underneath the wall. Soon, with no underlying support, the massive spillway wall collapsed. All that remained were chunks of concrete, stones, tangled rebar, and an unbelievable amount of rushing water. The Lake Charles flood had begun.
It wasn’t long before the water had all been released, thus making the dam useless, and Turkey Creek — which fed the lake — could once again flow throw the valley uncontrolled, just as it had done prior to 1935.