Party for Lake Cherokee's 60th birthday to be held Wednesday night - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

LAKE CHEROKEE (KLTV)

Party for Lake Cherokee's 60th birthday to be held Wednesday night

A lot of hard work, time and money went into creating it. 60 years ago today, an East Texas lake was completed. Lake Cherokee, near Longview, is a private, manmade lake that is not owned by the state. And right now, in honor of its birthday, they are throwing the lake a party. Today, KLTV 7's Danielle Capper was there as they were setting up.

There is going to be a party at the lake, but tonight's party is for the lake.

"A birthday for a lake is kinda strange but what it is, it was 60 years ago today that all major construction for Lake Cherokee was finally completed," said Mark Still, the organizer of the party.

The project started decades before 1948. Called Operation Bootstrap, the mission was to build a private lake for shareholders - but they needed funding.

"$500 a share," said Bette Slade.

Bette and her husband Frank put forward the money to become shareholders, knowing they would get 100 feet of waterfront property, but the selection of that property was up to a chance drawing.

"There was a fish bowl on the stage, in the fish bowl was slips of paper with each lot number. 1,500 slips in all," said Bette. "Frank allowed me to walk across the stage. I drew lot number NE 25. And we were thrilled to death."

But before their dream could become a reality, those in charge needed more money. Two contracts were worked out: one with SWEPCO to provide cooling water for their new plant and one with city of Longview to provide drinking water. It was lots of hard work.

"We are kinda celebrating the people that put this lake together 60 years ago. Our father of Lake Cherokee, Vern Clements, I think he would be proud," said Mark.

At the party tonight where there will be music, food, and stories. Plus, what's a party without something sweet?

"We're going to have a birthday cake, but people can enjoy it too," laughed Mark.

But of course, I had to ask about birthday presents.

"I don't think there is a present in the world that this lake could get other than these wonderful people that live here," said Bette. The history buffs at the party will be put to the test with trivia questions about the lake. And prizes will be hats, t-shirts and books all about, of course, Lake Cherokee.

Danielle Capper, reporting. dcapper@kltv.com

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