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Monroe Lake

Monroe Lake

1620 East Monroe Dam Court
Bloomington, IN 47401-8798
Telephone: (812) 824-9136 or 9137
FAX: (812) 824-6264
Office hours: M-F, 7 a.m. - 4 p.m. (may vary, call ahead)

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Welcome to the Monroe Lake web site. The lake lies predominantly in Monroe County and extends into Brown, Jackson, and Lawrence counties in south central Indiana. The dam is on Salt Creek 25.9 miles upstream of its juncture with the East Fork of White River, approximately 20 miles south and east of Bloomington.

Monroe Lake exists as a cooperative management effort between the Corps of Engineers and the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The lake has 10,750 acres of water in the summer for fishing, boating, swimming and other water related activities. The Monroe Lake region offers many opportunities to enjoy wildlife or recreate in the great outdoors. The menu on the right leads to specific recreation and other lake information.

Monroe Lake was authorized under the Flood Control Act of 1938. The Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed, built, and operates the project to reduce flood damages downstream from the dam. The dam is about 10 miles southeast of Bloomington, Indiana, on Salt Creek, a tributary of the East Fork White River.

When heavy rains occur, surface water runoff is stored in the lake until the swollen streams and rivers below the dam have receded and can handle the release of the stored water without damage to lives or property.

The Monroe Lake area was, until the early 1700s, undisputed Miami Indian land, even though occupied by both the Miami and Delaware tribes. The lake area was acquired legally from the Indians as part of Harrison’s Purchase, by the Treaty of Fort Wayne, on September 30, 1809.

The first recorded white settlers arrived in 1815, but where undoubtedly preceded by hunters and refugees from the law. A typical landholder farmed a few acres claimed from the woods and harvested the plentiful wild game of the area. Many of the original settlers were thrifty and industrious although squatters and land speculators abounded, seeking to make a fortune in the new territory.

The rolling hills of southern Indiana produced tremendous amounts of lumber from native stands of popular allowed development of a farming economy which is still a local mainstay.

The Hoosier Frontier supplied the southern market with shipments of grain, pork, and lumber. During periods of high water, freight from the small pioneers farms bound for New Orleans was shipped via flatboat down Salt Creek, Clear Creek, and Bean Blossom Creek.

The forks of Salt Creek, which form Monroe Lake, get their names from the many salt springs or “licks” along their course. As early as 1822, a well was dug near Salt Creek with the interest of converting the salt water into salt. Records show that it annually produced about 800 bushels of this valuable pioneer commodity.

In 1850 the first limestone quarry of the region was opened near Stinesville, leading to the development of what is still an important local industry.

Local economics boomed in 1854 with the completion of the area’s first railroad, the New Albany and Salem Line. Small communities such as Stinesville, Firfax, and Harrodsburgh thrived with this faster and cheaper system for transporting products from various lumber years, grist mills, tanneries, carding mills and iron works.

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