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View of the bottom of Lake Sam Rayburn 59 years ago this month

Texas Department of Transportation archive photo This is a fascinating old photo from the Texas Department of Transportation archives from 59 years ago this month. Dated August 1958, it shows what would soon become the bottom of Lake Sam Rayburn, and the Highway 147 bridge, which was under construction.

By Steve W Stewart/KJAS - This is a fascinating old photo from the Texas Department of Transportation archives from 59 years ago this month. Dated August 1958, it shows what would soon become the bottom of Lake Sam Rayburn, and the Highway 147 bridge, which was under construction.

The 2.5 mile long bridge was being built to carry vehicles across the lake, between Zavalla to the southwest and Broaddus to the northeast. As crews were building the bridge, other workers were busy clearing the land along the Angelina River Basin, and other crews were building the McGee Bend Dam and spillway.

Construction began in September of 1956, and the name of the lake and dam was changed in September of 1963 to honor Texas Congressman and Speaker of the House Sam Rayburn, who had recently died.

Impoundment of water began in March of 1965, and KJAS owner Mike Lout says that he remembers that the reservoir filled much quicker than engineers had predicted.

Although the water level in the lake varies depending upon weather trends and releases from the dam, the surface of the water is only a few feet below the bridge, which is amazing if you take a look at the height of the bridge in that photo.

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