Wolf Creek Dam

Wolf Creek Dam is a hydroelectric power generating and flood control facility on the Cumberland River that flows for 688 miles through southeastern Kentucky and northern Tennessee. In addition to its production of electrical power and flood control purpose, the dam is known primarily for two things. First is the important tourism infrastructure and attendant recreation provided by Lake Cumberland and one of the state parks along its shores. Second is the leak discovered in 1996 and its continuous seepage since then, which is caused by the porous karst and limestone bedrock foundation combined with the fact that it is an earth-filled embankment dam.

This leak and resultant seepage has placed the Wolf Creek Dam at the top of the list of priorities for the US Army Corp of Engineers, as a failure of the facility could result in catastrophic flooding that would probably inundate the entire riverfront of the city of Nashville, which sits on the Cumberland about 190 miles downriver. One of the steps the Army Corps of Engineers has taken is to lower the Lake Cumberland water level by as much as 40 feet. While this has by no means devastated tourism, it has caused hardships for several marinas and similar facilities along the lake shore, some of which have been forced to move their piers and docks some distance to meet the new shore.

Wolf Creek Dam Campground is one of the many facilities around Lake Cumberland that draws visitors. It is considered one of the premier houseboat vacation destinations in the United States, ranked number four in visitor hours out of the 383 lakes controlled by the US Army Corps of Engineers. There are more than 1,500 houseboats on the lake, in addition to hundreds of power boats, and canoes. The Wolf Creek Dam Campground (located within the Lake Cumberland State Resort Park) is right next to the state-run marina. The Lake is number one among all of the Kentucky resorts. Other great places for these kinds of vacations include Lake Roosevelt in Washington State, cruising on the Missouri and Mississippi River, Lake Powell formed by Glen Canyon Dam in Utah and Arizona, and Lake Mead near Las Vegas.

The Wolf Creek Dam Campground also has access to other fairly sophisticated facilities, including a 63-room lodge with and indoor swimming pool, a popular full-service restaurant, and group meeting space. The camp itself has a market and grocery store, laundry facilities, water and electric hookups, dump stations, and an activities center. At the marina, you will find a bait and tackle shop to help you get outfitted for another of the state's most popular recreational activities—fishing.

In addition to Nashville, which is located about 190 miles away, other closer attractions (within about 100 miles of Wolf Creek Dam) include the gold bullion repository of Fort Knox to the northwest; the university city of Bowling Green to the west; and the thoroughbred horse breeding center of Lexington to the north. Do note that many of the state park facilities, including the campground, are closed from November 30 until about mid-March.

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