By Joe Taylor
Starting with the successful completion of the Marston well # 1 in 1914, in the Grand Bayou area, the oil boom, that had started several years earlier around Caddo Lake, came to Red River parish. Almost overnight former crop fields and pastures were turned into small towns and oil derricks sprouted by the hundreds. Jobs paying $2.50 a day for a twelve-hour shift were suddenly available by the hundreds for the locals.
The fields producing oil and gas were part of the “Bull Bayou” play that also included east Texas, Sabine and Desoto Parishes. In Red River several communities like Harmon and Grand Bayou became bustling communities. There were others like Lenzburg and Crichton that many never have heard of, but they too were thriving communities for a few years. For, as we’ve discovered with the recent Haynesville shale gas boom, the oil business tends to be a boom to bust affair all too often.
One consequence of the increased population was that modern brick schools were built in the area, one at Grand Bayou and another at East Point. Evidence that they were substantially built is the fact that they’re still standing.
All too soon the boom was over. Records show a decrease in oil production just a few years after the first well was brought in.
These pictures give a better idea of the impact this “boom” had on the parish. The aerial photo is of Lenzburg. It was located on Red river about a half mile from Crichton. Crichton was located on the railroad in the large curve as you go north toward East Point. Thereis also a picture is of a nearby compression station.
The Journal thanks Joe Taylor for writing this article. He has a wealth of knowledge of the history of Red River Parish and a passion for preserving and sharing it.