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Caddo Lake book melds historical research with stunning photography

Texas A&M University Press

A new coffee table book featuring Caddo Lake pairs a veteran East Texas writer and photographer, both who have a long affection for the lake.

Lufkin native Thad Sitton and Dallas photographer Carolyn Brown worked together for several years on the book “Caddo: Visions of a Southern Cypress Lake.” The project, funded by musician and Caddo Lake guardian Don Henley, is published by Texas A&M University Press.

Sitton first started writing about Caddo Lake in the 1980s. For “Caddo,” he combed through all the scientific research on file at the Caddo Lake Institute. Sitton incorporated oral histories. He spent 20 days on the lake, alone in his canoe to get the story right.

“The lake itself is biologically unique. It’s not like Okefenokee Swamp or the Everglades or Chesapeake Bay wetlands. It’s a unique wetland environment with an enormous species count of birds, reptiles and mammals,” Sitton said.

Dallas photographer Carolyn Brown made monthly trips to Caddo Lake for two years. She says she was moved by the guides and the native lake dwellers who have become the lake.

“I started photographing the people who are just extremely unique in character. Their whole personalities are made because of the lake and becuase of the water and wildlife and the things that happen at the lake,” Brown said, who at 78 called this book project her “swan song.”

The 166-page book is a tribute to the labyrinth-like waterway that straddles the Louisiana-Texas border. Sitton and Brown will host a talk and book signing on Saturday, Jan. 31, World Wetlands Day. The event will be held at the Marshall Public Library, in Marshall, Texas, beginning at 1 p.m.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.