Green River Lake celebrates 50th anniversary

Published June 27, 2019

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Green River Lake celebrated its 50th anniversary this month with an event held at the visitor center June 15, 2019, to commemorate the monumental occasion.

Approximately 800 people attended the free community event in Campbellsville, Kentucky, where there were more than 40 food and craft vendors, educational booths, music and entertainment, historical re-enactments and opportunities to interact with wildlife.

“This event would not have come together without the hard work of our staff, Friends of Green River Lake and some dedicated community members,” said Lori Brewster, Green River Lake park manager.

On the day of the celebration, staff from nearby Rough River Lake and Green River Lake volunteers provided a helping hand. The team took this time to educate the public about outdoor recreation, nature and water safety through hands-on learning activities. Brewster also presented the Friends of Green River Lake a certificate of appreciation for their partnership and hard work in planning the event.

“We all came together to remind the community of the benefits brought by the construction of the dam and subsequent lake,” Brewster said. “These benefits are seen in reduced flooding downstream as well as economic benefits to the area from the recreation.”

The Green River Lake project was authorized under the Flood Control Act of 1938. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started construction in April 1964, and the lake was completed in June 1969. The Corps operates the lake primarily for flood control in the Upper Green River watershed, and it forms an integral unit in the comprehensive plan for flood control for the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.

“I have been here for 30 years,” said Sandra Mattingly, Green River Lake office administrator. “Someone once told me it is one of Kentucky’s best kept secrets.”

Green River Lake is the largest flood reduction project in the Louisville District, counting both the land and water acreage, with a total of 33,793 acres. The Corps, in cooperation with the commonwealth of Kentucky, manages the land and water for wildlife, fisheries and recreation. The wide variety of outdoor recreation opportunities include campgrounds, boat ramps, picnic shelters, beaches and a visitor center.

The visitor center was built in 1972 as the Louisville District’s first interpretive center and houses a variety of innovative exhibits. It was upgraded in 1978 to house the Corps office staff. Today, the visitor center is a big attraction to tourists, locals and school groups due to its educational displays and helpful staff.

“Maintaining the Green River Lake Visitor Center is probably my favorite part of my job,” said Andrea Davis, Green River Lake park ranger. “I love coming up with new ideas, see them come to life, and then see the visiting public enjoy and learn.”

Green River Lake is situated in Adair and Taylor counties, lying amidst rolling terrain, steep bluffs and flowing streams. The dam, located on the Green River, is an 11 mile drive from the cities of Campbellsville and Columbia, and less than 100 miles from Louisville and Lexington.

“The scenery cannot be surpassed,” Mattingly said. “I played on the dam as a little girl when they were doing construction and never dreamed it would be my life’s work. The lake is a part of my heart always.”

Staff at Green River Lake want to remind the public that there are many events being held at the lake throughout the year.

“Please join us at the lake this year as we continue to celebrate our 50th Anniversary,” Brewster said. Future events include Kids Fishing Derby, Lakeshore Cleanup, and Fishing with Veterans.