The Project was authorized as Texarkana Dam and Reservoir under the comprehensive, “Red River, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, below Denison Dam, Texas and Oklahoma project” by the Flood Contract Act of 1946 (Public Law 526, 79th Congress, 2nd Session). It was later known as Lake Texarkana and until December 15, 1973, when President Nixon signed H.R. 945, officially designating the Project, as “Wright Patman Dam and Lake,” in honor of Congressman Wright Patman of the First Congressional District of Texas.
The Wright Patman Lake Project is part of the comprehensive plan for flood control on the Red River below Denison, Texas. The drainage area of 3,400 square miles above the dam site is approximately 91 percent of the drainage area of the Sulphur River above the Red River, and approximately 12 percent of the drainage area below Denison Dam, excluding the Ouachita-Black River Basin. An additional benefit is the utilization of water supply by Texarkana, Texas, Texarkana, Arkansas, and surrounding communities.
Construction commenced on August 20, 1948, with clearing of the dam site. The Sulphur River was blocked and water was routed through the control structures on July 2, 1953. The reservoir was operated as a temporary detention basin until June 27, 1956, at which time the gates were closed and intentional impoundment was started. The Wright Patman Lake Project was transferred from the New Orleans District to the Fort Worth District on September 1, 1979.