Clarks Hill Lake Information
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Clarks Hill Lake, also known by its more recent official name of J. Strom Thurmond Lake and Dam, is one of the southeast’s largest and most popular public recreation lakes. Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1946 and 1954 as part of a flood control, hydropower and navigation project, authorized purposes now include recreation, water quality, water supply, and fish and wildlife management.
Each year millions of people utilize the many public parks, marinas, and campgrounds conveniently located around the lake to pursue a variety of outdoor recreational experiences — making Clarks Hill/Lake Thurmond one of the 10 most visited Corps lakes in the nation.
Clarks Hill/Lake Thurmond is a man-made lake bordering Georgia and South Carolina on the Savannah, Broad and Little Rivers. The lake is created by Thurmond Dam located on the Savannah River 22 miles above Augusta and 239.5 miles above the mouth of the Savannah River. The lake extends 39.4 miles up the Savannah River, 29 miles up the Little River and 6.5 miles up the Broad River in Georgia, and 17 miles up the Little River in South Carolina, at normal pool elevation, Thurmond Lake comprises nearly 71,100 acres of water with a shoreline of 1,200 miles.
Clarks Hill/Lake Thurmond is the first Corps of Engineers project built in the Savannah River Basin. Hartwell Lake and Dam, the second project built in the basin, was completed in 1963, and a third project, Richard B. Russell Lake and Dam, was completed in 1985. Together these three lakes form a chain of lakes 120 miles long. Congress authorized Clarks Hill in 1944 and construction began in 1946. The project was completed in 1954 at a cost of $79 million.
Originally the project was to be called “Clarks Hill Dam.” The “s” at the end of “Clarks” was omitted due to a clerical error in the original Congressional Authorization, and the project became “Clark Hill Dam.” The name was later corrected to become “Clarks Hill Dam.”
The 1966 Flood Control Act authorized the building of Trotters Shoals Lake and Dam on the Savannah River between Clarks Hill Lake and Hartwell Lake. This lake was later renamed to commemorate a late senator from Georgia, Richard B. Russell who was very important in supporting the building of dams on the river. This created a movement to rename Clarks Hill Lake after J. Strom Thurmond, the longest serving senator in U.S. history who was from Edgefield on the South Carolina side of the lake. This movement gained support due to the senator’s great popularity in the area, and in 1988 the project was congressionally renamed “J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake.” It is still referred to commonly as Clarks Hill.