Brian Whitson

When people think of Lake Chicot State Park a lot of things come to mind, such as great fishing throughout the year, family reunions, campouts, campfires, relaxing in cozy cabins, that it’s an awesome place for birding, and a place to enjoy nature and wildlife.  Lake Chicot State Park is all of these things located right in the southeast corner of Arkansas.  The park sits on the shore of Lake Chicot, an oxbow lake that was formed long ago by the mighty Mississippi River.

Many people may know about the origins of this lake, but may not realize why we call it Lake Chicot. In order to understand where the name Lake Chicot comes from one must look to the past. Early settlers in Chicot County often referred to the lake as “Old River Lake” since it was once a part of the Mississippi River. The name Lake Chicot actually goes back even further to the time of early settlement.  It goes back to a time when this area was first being explored by Europeans. So how do you pronounce Chicot?

Early French explorers are credited with first calling this oxbow lake, Lake Chicot. These explorers noticed the bald cypress knees all along the lakeshore. Mistaking these knees as stumps, the French called this lake, Chicot, which is the French word for stump.  So Lake Chicot is actually “Lake Stumpy” according to the early explorers. So the next time you look out over the waters of Lake Chicot, think about how it looked long ago when the French named it. Today, visitors can still see the bald cypress knees, which led to this lake being called Lake Chicot, pronounced shēˈkō.