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Lake Cumberland, KY Info

Lake Cumberland is a reservoir in Clinton, Laurel, McCreary, Pulaski, Russell, and Wayne counties in Kentucky. The primary reasons for its construction were a means for flood control and the production of hydroelectric power. Its shoreline measures 1,255 miles (2,020 km) and the lake covers 65,530 acres (265 km) at the maximum power pool elevation. The reservoir ranks 9th in the U.S. in size, with a capacity of 6,100,000 acre feet (7.5 km) of water, enough to cover the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky with 3 inches (76 mm) of water. The main lake is 101 miles (163 km) long and over one mile (1.6 km) across at its widest point.

The lake has become a major source of tourism and an economic engine for south-central Kentucky.


Lake Cumberland was impounded from the Cumberland River by the United States Army Corps of Engineers' construction of the Wolf Creek Dam in 1952. Wolf Creek Dam is the 25th largest dam in the United States, and cost $15 million to construct originally, with an additional $65 million needed almost immediately to fix problems which became soon apparent. It is estimated that the dam has prevented more than $500 million in flood damages since its construction.

Wolf Creek Dam
Wolf Creek Dam


Wolf Creek Dam's six turbines are capable of supplying the needs of an average city (population of 375,000) via 270 megawatts of electricity. The power generating capacity is considered "dead" when the lake's water level is below 673 feet (205 m).


In 1999, approximately 4.75 million visitors added more than $152.4 million to the local economy. Of the 383 lakes controlled or maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Cumberland ranks 4th in the nation for the number of visitor hours. Over 1,500 houseboats float on Lake Cumberland and numerous power boats play in its waters.

Lake Cumberland is home to two Kentucky state parks: Lake Cumberland State Resort Park on its shore and General Burnside State Park on an island in the middle of the lake.

Several of Kentucky's record fish have been taken in the waters of Lake Cumberland, including:

  • Brown trout (21 lb)
  • Lake trout (5 lb 5 oz)
  • Rainbow trout (14 lb 6 oz)
  • Sauger (7 lb 7 oz)
  • Striped bass (58 lb 4 oz)
  • Sturgeon (36 lb 8 oz)
  • Walleye (21 lb 8 oz)

Information courtesy of Wikipedia