Lake History

KingsleyDam2

As early as the 1880′s, citizens of south-central Nebraska discussed the possibility of bringing irrigation to the area. Interest in irrigation grew with each successive drought cycle until the drought and economic depression of the 1930s helped convince state and federal officials and community leaders of the need for irrigation.

The Public Works Administration approved funding for the hydro-irrigation project in 1935 and construction began in 1936. Kingsley Dam was closed and dedicated in 1941 and project operations began soon afterward.

The dam and reservoir are named for George P. Kingsley, a Minden, Nebraska banker, and C.W. McConaughy, a grain merchant and mayor of Holdrege, Nebraska, two of the leading promoters of the project. Although neither lived to see the completion of the project, their leadership and perseverance eventually culminated in a public power and irrigation project that helped Nebraska become one of the nation’s leading agricultural states.

Find more lake area history at KeithCountyNE.gov.

Kingsley Dam

Kingsley Dam, located 9 miles north of Ogallala, Nebraska, is the second largest, hydraulic fill dam in the world. It is over 162 feet high, 3.1 miles long, has 26 million cubic yards of material, and holds Lake McConaughy, which is 22 miles long and 142 feet deep.

Kingsley Dam was formed by the pumping of a mixture of loess soil and water into the ground, making a watertight core. Lake Ogallala was formed from the pumping of the soil into Kingsley Dam. It is 35 feet deep, 1.6 miles long, and .3 miles wide.

Even though it is smaller than Lake McConaughy, Lake Ogallala in the middle class size of lakes in Nebraska. Sand from the riverbed below was pumped to form the sides of the dam. Then, to make sure that nothing would try to go under the dam, giant steel sheets were driven into the watertight core and into the ground below. The water facing side of the dam is layered with limestone rocks from Wyoming and 180,000 “jackstones.”

A jackstone is a 6-pointed stone that looks similar to a toy jack, weighing over 800 pounds each, for a combined weight of 144 million pounds.

A unique feature to the Kingsley Dam is the water release and flood control system. The system is located on the south side of the dam, partially in the water and is composed of two parts, the outlet tower and the morning glory spillway. The outlet tower is 185 feet tall, 42 feet wide, has one ring gate, and 4 tractor gates that regulate normal water release functions like irrigation. The gates are located on the sides and middle of the structure. The structure is connected to a 20 foot wide, steel reinforced, concrete tube that runs underground to the power plant on the other side of the dam. When all the gates are open, it can release over 7,000 cubic feet per second, or over 420 thousand gallons a minute.

 

 

Calendar of Events

Jul
28
Wed
2:00 pm Western History Lecture Series @...
Western History Lecture Series @...
Jul 28 @ 2:00 pm
Western History Lecture Series @ the Library
The public is invited to free Western History programs held on the following Wednesday afternoons at the Kathleen Lute Public Library, 610 West A in Ogallala.   These interesting and entertaining programs recount history through stories,[...]
Jul
31
Sat
all-day Kites and Castles
Kites and Castles
Jul 31 all-day
The 2021 Kites and Castles will  be held  Saturday, July 31 at Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area. Register your team or learn more at www.kitesandcastles.com! Activity Schedule: 11:00 am: Registration begins at the Martin Bay[...]
all-day Ogallala Round-Up Rodeo
Ogallala Round-Up Rodeo
Jul 31 – Aug 1 all-day
Ogallala Round-Up Rodeo
Contact: Steve Krause (308)289-0285
8:00 am Ogallala Farmer’s Market
Ogallala Farmer’s Market
Jul 31 @ 8:00 am – 12:00 pm
The Ogallala Farmer’s Market will be held Saturdays at Rendezvous Square from June 19 through September 25, 2021.  Find something different every week – including locally raised vegetables, fruits, baked goods, honey, preserves and crafts.