Kentucky Tourism

Lake Barkley History

Established in 1964

Lake Barkley State Resort Park is located near Cadiz in Trigg County. On December 1, 1964, the Kentucky Parks System added Lake Barkley to the list of Kentucky’s state parks. The Secretary of the Army had approved the leasing of 1,800 acres of land along the shores of Lake Barkley for a public park and recreation facility. The state purchased 1,400 acres of surrounding land for a total of 3,200 acres. Presently the park has 3,600 acres. The U.S. Corps of Engineers constructed the earth and concrete dam completing it in July 1966. The dam and reservoir are part of a comprehensive plan for flood control and the development of water resources along the Cumberland River. Lake Barkley covers 58,000 surface acres and is a part of the vast “Land Between the Lakes” development area that includes 170,000 acres located on a peninsula between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake. The area has more than 1,004 miles of shoreline.

In Kentucky the reservoir covers portions of three Kentucky counties, Caldwell, Lyon, and Trigg. A canal between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake allows access to both lakes. The Tennessee Valley Authority developed several improvements in the area including a road network, beaches, picnic sites, and other facilities. The potential to make the region one of the premier visitor attractions in Kentucky seemed limitless.

In the spring of 1966 the Economic Development Administration approved the Lake Barkley State Park project and granted $3,987,500 to the Kentucky Department of Parks. This amount covered about half of the proposed amount to complete one of the most elaborate state parks in Kentucky.

Named for United States congressman, senator and vice president, Alben Barkley (1877-1956), Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake make up the largest man-made body of water in the world. Park amenities are plentiful.