Estates, Sporting Properties
Vistra Lists Fairfield Lake for $110 Million
Fairfield Lake has been listed for sale by Vistra, a Fortune 500 electricity and power generation company based in Irving, Texas. The 2,400-acre body of water is the standout feature of the 5,025-acre listing, which is being marketed for $110.55 million by Cash McWhorter of Hortenstine Ranch Company.
“The most overused phrase in real estate is ‘once-in-a-lifetime,’ but that’s the only way to describe this property,” says McWhorter, an East Texas native who specializes in waterfowl properties.
Situated at the eastern edge of Freestone County 90 minutes southeast of Dallas and three hours from Houston and Austin, Fairfield Lake is located in East Texas’s Post Oak Savannah region, an area that was plowed and planted with corn and cotton in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The northern shoreline, which adds another 825 acres, includes two private islands, each with its own land bridge.
“The islands are both very accessible,” McWhorter says. “They are one of the reasons that this is the most unique water asset in the Lower 48.”
Hortenstine Ranch Company founder Blake Hortenstine estimates the depth of the lake at roughly 50 feet. This key feature — coupled with the lake’s sheer size — truly distinguishes Fairfield Lake. “This was originally a cooling lake for a power plant that was decommissioned and is in the process of being taken down,” Hortenstine says. Hortenstine adds, “It initially had tilapia and redfish, and no one knew what was going to happen to the fishery when the power plant stopped pumping warm water in there in winter.”
What resulted was a world-class black bass fishery. One largemouth tipped the scales at 13 pounds and set the lake record. Catfish, bluegill, carp, sunfish, and alligator gar share the pristine waters. Hortenstine notes that no crappie, white bass, or stripers have ever been found in the lake.
The lake dates from 1969 when Texas Power & Light Company constructed an earthen dam measuring 4,350 feet to capture water from Big Brown and Little Brown Creeks. Since 1976, the company and its successors — most recently Vistra — have leased 1,800 acres at the southern portion of the property to Texas Parks & Wildlife Department for $1 a year. In 2018, Vistra retired the Big Brown Power Plant and gave the state two years’ notice. (The lease is not perpetual and can be cancelled.) Two public boat ramps are in place as are two homes for the park rangers. All transfer with the sale.
“As we’ve become experts on larger lakes, we have come to realize that many of the same questions about owning a 30-acre lake apply to owning a 2,000-acre lake,” McWhorter says. One example would be liability issues associated with such a large dam. McWhorter and Hortenstine note that having the dam inspected annually and keeping maintenance up to date — both of which are the case with Fairfield Lake — are important precautionary measures.
The water rights and recreational resources are unparalleled. And although the property is located less than 10 minutes from Interstate 45, the idyllic landscape is completely invisible from highways or main thoroughfares.
“There’s been a lot of disbelief and excitement about Fairfield Lake,” Hortenstine says. We believe him.
Originally published in the 2022 Land Report Texas Special Issue
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