Kentucky Tourism

Dale Hollow History

Established in 1978

Dale Hollow Lake State Resort Park is located in south-central Kentucky in the Cumberland River basin on the Obey River. The huge reservoir created by Dale Hollow Dam covers 27,700 acres in parts of Clinton and Cumberland Counties in Kentucky and Clay, Fentress, Overton, and Pickett Counties  in Tennessee. Dale Hollow Dam and Reservoir control the runoff drainage area of 935 square miles. Both the dam and reservoir are under the oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers. Completed in 1943, the dam and reservoir not only provide flood control, but also generate large amounts of electrical power. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) operates and distributes the electrical power for regional consumption. The dam is 1, 717 feet in length and holds back a lake that is 61 miles long with 653 miles of shoreline, with a 120-foot depth at its deepest point.

The majority of the Dale Hollow Reservoir lies in northern Tennessee. However, two extensive projections of the lake surface are in Clinton and Cumberland Counties, Kentucky. The Dale Hollow State Resort Park is located in Clinton and Cumberland Counties on the Frogue Peninsula, on the northern shore of the reservoir. The lands surrounding the Dale Hollow Reservoir are some of the most scenic in the South. Forest covered hills and sweeping views from some of the plateaus are examples of the natural beauty of the region.

Fishing is considered to be excellent in Dale Hollow Lake. The world record smallmouth bass weighing 11 pounds 15 ounces came from the waters of the lake, within a half-mile of Dale Hollow State Park. The lake also is stocked with white bass, bluegill, crappie, muskie, and rainbow trout, making the lake’s waters a fisherman’s paradise. The park has a marina with a dock and boat slips. The marina has a restaurant and a gift shop. Park facilities also include a pool, picnic areas, and playgrounds.

The region surrounding Dale Hollow State Park is historically significant. Virginia set aside the south-central portion of Kentucky for a military reserve district for Revolutionary soldiers. The South of the Green River lands covered a great portion of southern Kentucky. Many Virginia soldiers of the Revolutionary War moved to what would become Clinton and Cumberland Counties. Cumberland County is also famous as the site of one of the first oil wells in the United States.

During the winter of 1829, some men were drilling an exploratory well for salt brine. Salt had long been a lucrative business on the American frontier. One way to produce salt was to find a deposit of salt brine, boil the water down and collect the salt. On March 11, 1829 the men drilling for salt water struck instead an oil well. The pressure of the gas and oil underneath the surface forced an enormous geyser into the air. In 1934 the Kentucky General Assembly placed a commemorative tablet stating that this was the site of the first oil well in America. Though there have been many disputes to the claim, the Kentucky oil well remains one of the natural phenomena of the south central portion of the state.