top of page

All that was lost under Lake Texoma, Part II: Basin Springs, Steedman, Hagerman, and Cedar Mills

USGS map
A current USGS map has been superimposed on an 1903 map: Cedar Mills and the Artesian Well are now parks, Basin Springs is gone, and Steedman (aka Hagerman) is now a Wildlife Refuge.

Basin Springs, Steedman aka Hagerman, and Cedar Mills and were drowned by Lake Texoma.

By impounding the confluence of the Red and Washita rivers, Lake Texoma became a reality in 1944. The lake has done exponentially more good than harm, so we're not here to question its existence, but discover what's lying beneath its 89,000 acres (give or take). Part I explains some of what was lost. Here's Part II:

Basin Springs

Basin Springs is one of the oldest settlements lost beneath Lake Texoma. It was named after a natural feature, first described in July of 1852 by soldier William Parker in "Through Unexplored Texas: Notes taken during the Expedition Commanded by Captain Randolph Barnes Marcy:"

"Early in the afternoon, we stopped at the Basin Spring, a perfect fairy bath tub, and fatigued with the scenes of the past three days, overmore by the intense heat, and almost famished with thirst, abut above all, enamored with the place, we determined to encamp for the night.

An apparently dry ravine ran at right angles to our course, on traversing which, we came suddenly upon a series of ledges of limestone rock, arranged like stairs. Over these, water trickled, and was caught in a basin, worn by time and the action of water, about three feet deep, and five in diameter, and so pellucid, that the smallest article might be seen on the bottom.

After the muddy waters of Red River, and the stagnant pools of the prairies, what wonder that we hailed this fountain with delight, drank copious draughts, laved in its cool refreshing bosom, and poured out libations to the Naiad of the Spring."

The trail that Marcy, Parker, and the contingent of soldiers blazed through Basin Springs became the emigrant trail into Texas from northern states, and a local stage and mail coach connected the little settlement that grew around the spring to Sherman already by 1854. For a few years in the 1870s, an academy for white children (day and boarding opportunities) had been opened, a vote against the sale of liquor, and a resolution that the "county was full of horse thieves" had been passed. The town was bypassed by the MKT line, however, and it slowly dwindled away. Its cemetery, a few miles from the original site, is pretty much all that remains.

A letter delivery (and stage coach) schedule between Sherman, Basin Springs, and Gainesville from 1854 (Austin Gazette).

A 1920s map, made by a historian for the Daughters of the Texas Republic, shows Basin Springs on the emigrant trail north of Diamond's Station on the Butterfield Overland Stage Coach trail (Hardin Simmons University).

Though a bit hard to discern, Basin Springs is written in red above Big Mineral Creek in this Texas GLO map of Grayson County from 1853.

Cedar Mills

Cedar Mills, named after the Cedar Brakes and its grist and flour mills, had a direct connection to Indian Territory via the Willis Ferry over the Red River. It also boasted a cotton gin and was a place for gambling and libations, activities forbidden in the Territory. The town's Board of Trade built a free bridge across Big Mineral Creek in 1874/1875, which brought some action from Denison and Sherman, but because it never saw a railroad come through, the town did not grow as much as other places did. Parts Cedar Mills faced flooding after Lake Texoma was built, and the new community that appeared, Gordonville, was named after one of the founding families of Cedar Mills.

What was most likely the last wolf in Grayson County was trapped at Cedar Mills in 1946 (Denton Record Chronicle). This event apparently brought preachers back to town, as now the church ladies had enough poultry to make them some fried chicken. Strange!


You may wonder why you don't see the town of "Hagerman" on this map? Because it didn't exist in 1903. Back then, it was known as Steedman, namee after a county judge and the owner of a farm after retirement in the area.

When the MKT line came through, the town was not very loyal. Citizens left the settlement to join the railroad town of Hagerman at Dever Switch. The town was renamed after an attorney for the line, and even the cemetery changed its name.That's where the County Judge is buried, just FYI. Residents abandoned the Hagerman in 1942 as a sacrifice to the gods of Lake Texoma. In 1946, the town site of Steedman/Hagerman became a Wildlife Refuge, which is now one of the top destinations in the US, if not the world, for avid birders.

If I had any gumption, I'd go scuba diving to find some of the remains of these old places! But I prefer others telling me what they see as I'm not one to put my head underwater.

Some old railroad infrastructure along the original MKT right-of-way, displaced by Lake Texoma, appears at the Hagerman Wildlife Refuge on the Meadow Pond Trail (six miles) that parallels the newer ROW.

The school at Hagerman once stood near the visitor's center at the Wildlife Refuge (Friends of Hagerman NWR).

Whole town of Hagerman moves away in July 1942! (Taylor Daily Express).

During World War II, the base at the Red River on the Texas side was the site of a German POW camp, whose occupants helped to construct Dension Dam. The items that the POWs made for Christmas were censored by the war department in this photograph (Tulsa District Army Corps of Engineers).

1,616 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page