Heritiage Guide 2016
P. 1

istoric account of beautiful Lake Livingston
Councilman Louie Welch recalls the history of Lake Livingston
This article is reprinted from the July 2, 1976 issue
of the Lake Livingston Progress. The Prog-
ress was a newspaper started for the speci c
purpose of chronicling the history of Lake
Livingston. It began in May of 1969 and
ended in December of 2008 with over
1000 editions printed.
A lthough ground was not bro- ken on Lake Livingston until
late 1965 and the Dam was not closed until 1968, the original idea for the creation of the lake  rst came into the mind of a Houston city coun- cilman as early as 1957.
“I was talking to leading industrial- ists and they said that Lake Houston wasn’t an adequate water supply and that they needed more,” Louie Welch, then a councilman, recalled.
“So, I looked around and decided to look into putting a dam on the Trinity,” Welch said.
Welch, now president and chief ex- ecutive of cer of the Houston Cham- ber of Commerce, said he became chairman of the committee to hire engineers to make a study of the dam.
Brown and Root, Inc. then took a survey of the am area and made esti- mates, Welch said.
Welch made the  rst recommenda- tion for the dam to the Houston City Council on Nov. 1, 1957 on the basis of the Brown and Root survey, conducted
by Hank Norman.
“Those  rst estimates were
almost precisely the exact cost of the  nished project and the
location was exactly where it is today,” Welch noted.
“The total project cost about $45 million
and the dam itself was about $15 million,” he stated.
Welch said East Texas residents were
excited when they  rst heard of the possibility
of the dam and lake. “We were meet-
ing in little towns to get the support of the residents and most people realized
the economic and recreational possibili- ties of a dam,” Welch
The Houston
citizens were also pleased with the
prospect of a dam in East Texas,
according to Welch.
“The feeling was strictly for industry and that they needed water,” he said. Welch said the contract for the lake
was overwhelmingly approved in June of 1964. The construction for the lake could not begin, however, until a year later because of a lawsuit, Welch recalled.
“It was a dissident’s sour gripe suit,” Welch said.
The suit against Welch alleged that the lake’s level was being held down and land that was expected to be on the waterfront would not be, he said.
Welch said the suit failed, however, and in the interim, the lake’s  ow was not changed.
During the year of delay, land prices went up almost 300 percent, accord- ing to Welch, then mayor of Houston. “There was real land scrambling,” he commented.
Welch said another problem halt- ing construction was who would own the land under the lake. “But I didn’t care about the land, I just wanted the water,” he said.
Welch said he then met quietly in Dallas law of ces to resolve the prob- lems which were delaying the lake’s construction. “We avoided public meetings so we could get the basic differences resolved,” he said.
Besides the lawsuits that held up construction, Welch said other prob- lems kept the lake from being built.
“It was very frustrating because of the many roadblocks we had to go through,” he recalled. “We received no help from the state or federal govern- ments. The whole bill was paid by the City of Houston.
“In fact, it was the largest Lake ever built by a city alone,” Welch noted.
Welch said, however, that with the help of area citizens and the Water Supply Commission of the Houston Chamber of Commerce the lake con- struction got underway in November, 1965. “The Water Supply Commission was the driving force through three Houston mayors,” he said.
The dam was closed in September, 1968 and the Highway 190 bridge was dedicated exactly one year later.
“I felt a certain amount of pride at the dedication ceremonies,” Welch
Special supplement to Polk County Publishing group of newspapers
continued on page 3

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