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How does a state like Texas, with few natural lakes, become a well-respected bass fishing destination? A look at Lake Bob Sandlin explains the paradox. Named after the president of the Titus County Fresh Water Supply District No. 1, the Bob Sandlin Reservoir is one of many in Texas that supply fresh water, recreation and in some instances electrical power to the growing population of Texans. And, being Texas, it has to do the job in a big way . . .as in many bass - BIG bass! But fishing is just one of the many recreational activities enticing visitors to the lake each year; swimming, camping, hiking and boating draw thousands to the lake to find a cool spot to beat the heat in the Piney Woods Region of East Texas.
Visitors to Lake Bob Sandlin take advantage of all the reservoir has to offer. Although lake levels fluctuate due to water usage and rainfall, there are always places on the 9,460-acre lake with wide expanses of open water for water skiing, power boating, jet-skiing, tubing, pontooning, canoeing and kayaking. Over 75 miles of shoreline dotted with coves and bays ensure that a variety of water conditions provide habitat for scores of native species. The swim beaches provide refreshing water, and the fishing hot-spots harbor plenty of largemouth bass, catfish, spotted bass, crappie, bluegill and red ear sunfish for your angling enjoyment. Areas of timber left standing when the area was flooded enhance the underwater structure necessary to assure good fish habitat.
Hiking trails meander through the 640-acre Lake Bob Sandlin State Park with plenty of space for in-line skating, cycling and just plain strolling while enjoying the many birds and varied fauna. Interpretive tours and nature walks are guided on some weekends. The park has camping facilities, both electrified and primitive, sparse camping cabins, picnic areas with grills, playground, lighted fishing pier and boat launch. The State Park isn't the only access point for the lake. Titus County Fresh Water Supply District Park offers most of the same services on a smaller scale, and a private marina on the Barefoot Bay arm of the reservoir offers boating and angler supplies, boat slips, waterside gas, restaurant, RV park, rental cabins, boat rental and children's amusements. Other public boat ramps exist on the reservoir but usually require a map to locate, and not all are usable at all times due to water level changes.
Lake Bob Sandlin provides fresh water to the nearby towns of Pittsburg and Mount Pleasant. Completed in 1977, the Fort Sherman Dam created Lake Bob Sandlin immediately downstream from two other dams and their reservoirs. The Franklin County dam, built across Cypress Creek in 1970, created Cypress Springs Lake, while the Monticello Dam, built in 1972 across Blundell Creek, created Lake Monticello. The Monticello Dam provides hydroelectric power, with the lake acting as a cooling reservoir for the steam electric operation. Cypress Springs Lake is used for water supply. When the Fort Sherman Dam was built downstream on Cypress Creek, the rising waters eventually extended back to the two previous dams, creating a huge expanse of water within the three reservoirs. All three reservoirs have public access and boat launch sites. Excellent bass fishing is something all three lakes have in common.
Originally inhabited by the Caddo Indians, the area around Lake Bob Sandlin was first settled by Europeans about 1850. Archeological evidence of the Caddo past can still be seen at Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, while the Caddo are the focus of an archeological exhibit at the old Pittsburg Depot, part of the Northeast Texas Rural Heritage Center and Museum. Visitors who enjoy technology of the 1800s will want to visit the Pittsburg Depot where they can see a working telegraph station, an 1894 telephone switchboard and antique telephones, a printing press, Model T Ford, and a 1909 surrey. One quickly finds that trying to explain how these items worked to a modern-day child is a graphic example of just how much our lifestyles have changed in a hundred years. The Farmstead Museum is a fully-restored farmyard and home from the period. Pittsburg is designated a Historic Main Street town with many examples of fine homes built around 1880.
Six miles northeast of Lake Bob Sandlin, the town of Mount Pleasant encourages visitors to enjoy a private museum called the Legends and Lawless Modern Western Museum. This museum holds a large collection of John Wayne memorabilia, an antique gun collection and an eclectic collection of 'western' items from popular legend and culture. Mount Pleasant always welcomes visitors to its annual events such as the Moonlight Festival and Outhouse Race, the Mount Pleasant Rodeo and holiday festivals for all ages. The Whatley Center for The Performing Arts has regularly-scheduled performances, and there are several nearby golf courses open to the public.
Several real estate developments around Lake Bob Sandlin offer opportunities to purchase both existing lakefront homes and vacant property for building. New developments, including exclusive gated communities with excellent private facilities, are currently under construction. As the reservoir increasingly becomes the favored recreational venue in the area, private owners offer rentals by the week or the season to vacationers. Cottages, bed-and-breakfasts and private campgrounds are located both on and very near the lake, while hotels and motels near the towns are available for a week-end's stay or longer. When looking for vacation rentals, it pays to include Cypress Springs Lake and Lake Monticello in the search area, as it will increase available offerings considerably. So, whether your interests lie in water activities, swimming, boating or fishing, come give Lake Bob Sandlin a try. You may find it hard to keep those eager and numerous bass out of your boat!
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