About Lake Cumberland

About Lake Cumberland

For more than 50 years people have been visiting Lake Cumberland and enjoying the many things it has to offer. Its shoreline measures 1,255 miles and spreads over 65,530 acres. The reservoir ranks 9th in the U.S. in size. Lake Cumberland contains the capacity of water to cover the entire commonwealth of Kentucky with 3 inches of water. The main lake is 101 miles long and over one mile across at its widest point and is one of the largest man-made lakes in the nation, reaching Russell, Clinton, Laurel, McCreary, Pulaski and Wayne Counties in South Central Kentucky.
Millions of visitors each year travel to Lake Cumberland to enjoy the many things it has to offer. Lake Cumberland has been named and is known by many as the Houseboat Capital of the World. Whether you are renting a houseboat at one of the many marinas, bringing your own boat, jet skiing, enjoying some water sports or fishing, it’s easy to see why families travel so far to visit Lake Cumberland.

Lake Cumberland hasn’t always been a recreational paradise. Over 50 years ago the early construction for Wolf Creek Dam to impound the Cumberland River by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers was halted by World War II. What was originally planned in the 1920’s and enacted by Congress in the 1930’s was resumed and the dam closed in 1950 to begin what was known as the Wolf Creek Reservoir. The Corp of Engineers built Wolf Creek Dam on the Cumberland River and began the creation of what was named Lake Cumberland in 1954. Wolf Creek Dam is huge in size. It is a massive concrete structure measuring 5,736 feet long and 258 feet high. Flood control and hydroelectric power was the primary reasons for the construction. Wolf Creek Dam is the 25th largest dam in the U.S. and cost $15 million to originally construct.

Lake Cumberland has since become a major source of tourism for South Central Kentucky. The lake and its many miles of shoreline is owned by the government but managed for public use. Lake Cumberland is home to over 1500 houseboats and numerous powerboats. The Lake hosts powerboat events throughout the year including Thunder Run and the Poker Run.

Make Lake Cumberland your next vacation destination. The Lake is home to two Kentucky State Parks as well as several marinas that offer houseboat rentals and lodging. Visit Lake Cumberland and see why thousands of people make Lake Cumberland their getaway year after year.

Lake Cumberland general statistics

The normal summer pool is around 723 feet above mean sea level.
The tree line is about 725 feet.
The maximum pool is 760 feet (top of dam floodgates)
The top of Wolf Creek Dam is 773 feet.
Lake is considered at “flood control” level from 723-760 feet.
Normal power drawdown is between 723 and 673 feet.
The power generating capacity is considered “dead” below 673 feet.
At 760 feet elevation, the shoreline of Lake Cumberland is 1,255 miles.
At maximum possible elevation of 760 feet, Lake Cumberland is considered to be 101 miles long, with a total surface acreage of 65,530 acres.
Surface acreage at 723 feet is 50,250 acres.
At minimum power pool of 673 feet, it is 35,820 surface acres.
Average depth of lake at summer pool of 723 feet above sea level: 90 feet
Deepest point in lake: original river channel adjacent to Wolf Creek Dam: 200 feet
Depth of river channel upstream of dam to Wolf Creek: generally 160 feet
Depth of river channel upstream of Wolf Creek to one mile upstream of Burnside: generally 120 feet


The shoreline of Lake Cumberland — at the theoretically maximum possible elevation of water — is 1,255 miles.
The coastline of Florida, not including islands, is 770 miles in length.
The total Atlantic coastline of the United States from Maine to the tip of Florida is 2,069 miles.
The total Pacific coastline of the continental U.S. (California, Oregon and Washington) is 1,293 miles.
Lake Cumberland Facts (courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)—

Lake Cumberland was filled with water in December 1950, and was constructed primarily for flood control and the production of hydroelectric power at a cost of about $80.4 million. Its shoreline measures 1,085 miles and the lake is spread over 50,250 acres at the top of the power pool.
Wolf Creek Dam ranks 22nd in the one hundred largest dams in the U.S. and required 11,568,900 cubic yards of material in construction. It is over a mile long at 5,736 feet. (The concrete portion is 1,796 feet long; the earthfill portion, 3,940 feet.) It is 258 feet high at its tallest point.
The reservoir ranks 9th in the U.S. in size with a capacity of 6,089,000 acre-feet, enough water to cover the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky to a depth of 3 inches. That’s roughly 1.9 trillion gallons.
More than 4.7 million visitors spent 73,252,200 hours in pursuit of recreation and added more than $152,395,044.00 to the local economy in 1999. The number of visitor hours ranks Lake Cumberland 4th in the nation among 383 Corps Lakes.
Since it was impounded, Wolf Creek Dam has prevented more than $500,000,000 in flood damages for cities and communities downstream.
The six turbines at Lake Cumberland are capable of producing 270 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply the needs of an average city with a population of 375,000.
Cost of original dam construction: $81 million
Cost to repair leak in dam (discovered in 1967) during late 1970s: $96.4 million
Costs to make major repairs of dangerous seepage through the dam, discovered in 2004, are expected to be around $360 million.