LOUISVILLE DISTRICT

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Cave Run Lake

150 Kentucky Hwy 826
Morehead, KY 40351
Telephone: (606) 784-9709             Fax (606) 784-2400
Office hours: M-F, 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. (may vary, call ahead)

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Welcome to the Cave Run Lake web site. The lake is located within the scenic Eastern Highlands Region of Kentucky and is almost completely surrounded by the northern-most section of the Daniel Boone National Forest. An earth and rockfill dam built across the Licking River created Cave Run Lake. The dam is located near the small community of Farmers, Ky., 10 miles west of Morehead and 60 miles east of Lexington.

The 8,270 acre Cave Run Lake is most widely known for its outdoor recreation opportunities, excellent fishing and scenic beauty. However, the lake project was constructed primarily for the purpose of reducing flood damage. The Corps of Engineers operates and maintains the dam and three day-use recreation areas near the dam. The remaining recreation areas are under the jurisdiction of the Cumberland District of the U.S. Forest Service. The menu on the right leads you to specific recreation and other lake information.

Authorized by the Flood Control Act of June 22, 1936, construction of the Cave Run Lake project began in June 1965 and it became operational in February 1974. The lake project serves as one unit of the comprehensive plan for the Ohio River Basin to reduce flood stages downstream from the dam. The Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed, built, and operates the dam.

Following heavy precipitation, the dam's control structure reduces the release of water from the lake and the runoff from the watershed is stored in the lake. After the streams and rivers below the dam have receded, the stored flood water is released at a rate that will not endanger lives or property.

In addition to flood control, the lake project serves as a water supply, increases low-flow conditions on the lower Licking River in the interest of water quality, provides public outdoor recreation opportunities, and offers habitat for many species of fish and wildlife.
Almost all of Cave Run Lake lies within the Daniel Boone National Forest boundaries. Established in 1937, the 706,000-acre National Forest covers portions of 21 Kentucky counties. Prior to Cave Run Lake’s construction, the U.S. Forest Service had significant land holdings in the area where the lake project now exists. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers acquired the remaining land needed for the development of the lake project. Under an agreement between the Corps and the Forest Service, the majority of the land acquired by the Corps was transferred to the Forest Service upon project completion.

The Corps built the impressive earth and rock fill dam on the Licking River. The large concrete control tower on the upstream side of the dam acts like a drain for the lake. The tower has two large hydraulically controlled main gates and two smaller valve-controlled bypass pipes which control the amount of water released from the lake. The bypass pipes have intakes at different levels in the lake, permitting the dam to discharge water of various temperatures and qualities to provide downstream aquatic life and water users with a more suitable water supply.

The northern-most section of the Daniel Boone National Forest surrounds the Cave Run Lake project and offers visitors many scenic, natural and historic points of interest. More than 300 species of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles can be found in the hardwood-covered hills, forest openings, streams, ponds and caves of this scenic National Forest. Picnic areas, boat launching ramps, well-developed campgrounds and modern marinas border Cave Run Lake.

The Minor E. Clark Fish Hatchery, located off Kentucky Highway 801 (below the dam), is one of the largest state-owned warm-water fish hatcheries in the nation. The hatchery produces between three and four million fingerlings annually, which are released into Kentucky’s lakes, rivers and suitable streams. The varieties of sport fish presently produced are largemouth bass, small mouth bass, muskellunge, striped bass (rockfish), hybrid striped bass and walleye. The hatchery’s water supply is provided by Cave Run Lake from an intake structure on the control tower for the dam. Minor E. Clark Fish Hatchery facilities are open to the public from 7am-3pm Mon-Fri and the grounds are open from 7am-Dusk.
Project Purpose and Facts

 

Authorized by the Flood Control Act of June 22, 1936, construction of the Cave Run Lake project began in June 1965 and it became operational in February 1974. The lake project serves as one unit of the comprehensive plan for the Ohio River Basin to reduce flood stages downstream from the dam. The Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed, built, and operates the dam.

Following heavy precipitation, the dam's control structure reduces the release of water from the lake and the runoff from the watershed is stored in the lake. After the streams and rivers below the dam have receded, the stored flood water is released at a rate that will not endanger lives or property.

In addition to flood control, the lake project serves as a water supply, increases low-flow conditions on the lower Licking River in the interest of water quality, provides public outdoor recreation opportunities, and offers habitat for many species of fish and wildlife.

Dam Information

Dam Type: Earth and rock fill
Maximum Height: 148 feet
Length: 2,700 feet
Drainage area above dam: 826 square miles

Pool Elevation Area Length
(Feet mean sea level) (Acres) (Miles)
Winter 724 7,390 44.9
Summer 730 8,270 48.1
Total Storage 765 14,870 66.2

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