Blue Mountain Dam and Lake
Blue Mountain Lake is a manmade lake, or reservoir, on Petit Jean River in Logan County. A portion of the lake extends into Yell County. The dam was built in the 1940s as a flood-control project, but since its completion, the lake has also provided numerous recreational opportunities. It is named for Blue Mountain, an outcropping of Mount Magazine.
Land patents on farmland where the lake now lies were granted to William Mobly, James Henard, and Augustus Ward, all in 1861. By 1891, an unincorporated community called Patsie had developed in the area. Several cemeteries had to be relocated during the development of the lake. In 1899, when the Choctaw, Oklahoma and Gulf Railroad was built to the north of the Petit Jean River, a resort community was platted near the railroad and named Blue Mountain. The railroad was acquired by the Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad in 1902. A Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was based in the town during the 1930s.
In 1940, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed a dam on Petit Jean River to control flooding in Logan County. Construction of the dam began that year but was halted in 1942 due to World War II. After the war ended, construction resumed, and the dam and lake were completed in June 1947 at a cost of $4,770,000.
The dam is an earthen structure, 115 feet high and 2,800 feet long. The lake covers about 4.5 square miles—roughly 2,880 acres—and provides about fifty miles of shoreline. It receives drainage from about 500 square miles of land. A nearby Corps of Engineers office oversees the lake and dam.
Promoters of the lake describe it as being in the shadow of Mount Magazine. A Wildlife Management Area and Wildlife Demonstration Area have been established to the west of Blue Mountain Lake. The demonstration area includes a world-class bird-dog field trial area, attracting visitors from the United States and other countries.
The lake itself has become a tourist destination. Recreational opportunities include camping, hiking, hunting, fishing, swimming, boating, and water-skiing. The lake is home to largemouth bass, white bass, crappie, bream, and catfish. More than 300 species of birds have been observed on or near the lake. The Corps of Engineers also oversees forests, grasslands, and wetlands adjacent to the lake.
In June 1997, the dam and lake project celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a festival open to the public which honored the construction workers who had built the dam in the 1940s.
For additional information:
Beck, Kitty. “Blue Mountain Dam Project.” Wagon Wheels 11 (Spring/Summer 1991): 8–13.
“Blue Mountain Lake.” Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. http://www.arkansas.com/places-to-go/lakes-rivers/lake.aspx?id=67 (accessed March 4, 2015).
Butler Center for Arkansas Studies
Last Updated: 07/12/2017