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

Mar
17
Fri
12:00 pm APA Signature Show at the Petrif...
APA Signature Show at the Petrif...
Mar 17 @ 12:00 pm – Apr 29 @ 2:00 pm
APA Signature Show at the Petrified Wood & Art Gallery
The Petrified Wood & Art Gallery in Ogallala will again host the American Plains Artists (APA) Signature Show this spring.  The show will be on display March 17-April 29 at the gallery located at 418 East 1st[...]
Apr
29
Sat
all-day Catfish Classic
Catfish Classic
Apr 29 all-day
The annual Catfish Classic will take place Saturday  April 29, 2023 Contact:  Darrell Morrow 308-778-5879
all-day Wild West Soap Box Derby – Seaso...
Wild West Soap Box Derby – Seaso...
Apr 29 all-day
Contact:  Dave Barrett at 308-778-5879
May
13
Sat
10:00 am Birding at Lake Mac
Birding at Lake Mac
May 13 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm
Join us at Lake McConaughy for this Nebraska Bird Month Event Saturday, May 13 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Lake McConaughy Visitors Center! Learn about common birds at Lake McConaughy, make pinecone bird[...]