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If you're uncertain where to spend your next vacation, you could try the Uncertain Inn, in Uncertain Texas (population 205). The inn is on the shore of Caddo Lake, where the paddle steamer Mittie Stephens sank in 1869, with the loss of 61 lives and a fortune in gold, which is said to lie in deep mud at the bottom of the lake, "and is yours for the finding."

In the 19th century, steamboats carrying goods to the developing west used to cross the lake en route to Jefferson, Texas. Because of fluctuating water levels, mooring was often "uncertain."

Last century, fishing camps and resort operators formed a small town, which was incorporated in 1961. The site is near Uncertain Landing, so named because the old-time steamboat captains often found it difficult to moor their vessels. It was also the site of an old hunting, fishing, and boating society called the Uncertain Club, active in the early 1900s.

An Uncertain website says that Caddo Lake was the world's first off-shore drilling for oil site. A pearl industry developed in the 1920s, when pearls were found in freshwater mussels. Uncertain residents claim that today the lake is "the best photo spot in Texas."

A former reporter of the Marshall News-Messenger told us "I got to know an old guy who had been a bootlegger during Prohibition. He was raised in the swamps around Caddo Lake and was said to have know the lake better than anyone around - certainly better than the 'revenooers,' the lawmen who were to enforce the liquor laws.

"They said they could smell his still, but they were never able to find it and they were never able to catch him. After the end of Prohibition, he became a fishing guide and ran a little business on the lake."

Every May and June, hundreds of female Red-ear Sliders come ashore to lay eggs. The City of Uncertain posts "Turtle Crossing" road signs warning motorists to watch for the "reptilian mothers" crossing the roads.

[We were uncertain whether reptiles of that name existed, until we discovered this image of a Red-ear Slider]

Completing our virtual visit to the town, we found an interesting story by Dorothy Grant, an Uncertain historian, who wrote:

There is a tune, "Uncertain, Texas", that has a melody and lyrics that make for smiles! It was used in the movie "Soggy Bottom USA"... If youčre ever around the river, drop in!


Story first posted August 2004

Copyright © 2004

Eric Shackle

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