Audrey Klug of Rogers, a student from Rogers High School in Rogers, Ark., who studies English under teacher Jeff Ayers, wrote this award-winning essay. The essay competed in a contest for students to write about the historical significance and background of Beaver Dam. Klug read the essay during the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 50th anniversary celebration of Beaver Dam, held on October 6, 2016. In the photo are (from left) Jeff Ayers (teacher), Jack Klug (grandfather), Audrey Klug, Kelly Klug (mother) and Lee Klug (grandmother).
About six miles northwest of Eureka Springs, Beaver Dam stands a whopping two hundred and twenty eight feet high above the White River (MUS&T). Thanks to this dam, Arkansas has been able to keep flooding under control, generate hydroelectricity, provide a clean water supply for various counties and create a lovely recreation area for locals and tourists alike.
Fifty years ago Beaver Dam was constructed, but talk of one being built started much earlier-1911 to be exact. Then around 1930, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started researching whether or not it was even possible to start construction. It wasn’t until 1954, our National Congress passed the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act, in an attempt to control flooding, that construction was given the green light.
The Corps of Engineers considered a few locations on the White River, but then deemed most of them unsuitable. Eventually they found an area in Carroll County, near Beaver, a small town in Northwest Arkansas. The Engineers settled on a location a little ways up the river, on mile 609 in Carroll County (encyclopediaofarkansas.net).
Construction was funded by a 1.1 billion dollar public works appropriation bill in late 1959. Included were funds for flood control, navigation, and reclamation projects for all fifty states. At the time President Dwight Eisenhower didn’t really like the idea of putting so much money towards a project that had so many uncertainties, so he objected to it. Together, Congress overrode the president’s veto, but not without trimming two and a half percent off the initial bill first (encyclopediaofarkansas.net).
Construction finally began in the fall of 1960, followed by a groundbreaking ceremony held by the Beaver Dam Association, filled with Congressmen and other local dignitaries. A few years later, bids were opened, and soon after that the powerhouse and switchyard started going up and taking shape. The entire project was finished in June of 1966, with the overall expenses adding up to a total of 46.2 million dollars. They made all that back and more though, with the White River lakes preventing an estimated total 67.2 million dollars in flood losses. The Beaver Reservoir contributed 7.2 million dollars to that total by preventing flood damage (encyclopediaofarkansas.net)
Now we know that the dam went up to help deter flooding, but it was and still is a water source for multiple counties. Some cities such as Rogers, Bentonville, Fayetteville and Springdale were some of the first to buy water from the lake. Nowadays Beaver Lake supplies clean water to more than four hundred thousand customers (USACE). The leaders that came together to form the Beaver Water District knew that investing in clean drinking water would only benefit them in the end. Clean water means healthy people, and healthy people help boost the economy in their respective regions.
Other than flood prevention and clean water, Beaver Dam is responsible for flooding the White River and creating what is now known as Beaver Lake. As soon as land around the reservoir started going up for sale, people began flocking to the Beaver Land Office to buy and sell properties. Most out-of-state developers bought large sums of acreage to then be divided and turned into smaller lots and neighborhoods. The Army Corps of Engineers then built multiple recreation areas all around the lake, bringing in revenue from campers and fishermen to help fund local governments.
The newly flooded lake also made for some great fishing. Many fishermen went to local papers and magazines to gush over Beaver Lake, some even calling it names such as the “Queen of the White River Lakes.” The lake offers plenty of fish to choose from. Some of the most common catches are crappies, breams, catfish, and-the most popular – bass. In fact, bass was so popular Ray Scott, a promoter, held the first modern bass tournament on the lake in June, 1967 and it has been recurring ever since.
The fish that occupy the lake are nothing to laugh at, according to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission; some fishermen have reported catching bass up to sixty four pounds! Some other notable catches have been a ninety two pound black buffalo fish, as well as a one hundred and sixteen pound blue catfish (agfc.com)
Of course if fishing isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other things to do as well. As mentioned before, there are several recreation areas surrounding the lake. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers, there are twelve developed parks with a total of two thousand and eight acres of campground and six hundred and fifty individual campsites. Every park has access to necessities such as clean water and showers, as well as electricity and sanitary dumping stations. While in the parksvisitors also have access to many other facilities like picnic sites, beaches perfect for swimming, hiking trails, boat rampsand even amphitheaters (arkansas.com).
A few years ago, my grandparents bought a house on Beaver Lake. They live just above Horseshoe Bend, which houses a marina as well as a public campground. Almost every day there’s someone out on the lake, fishing or towing family and friends on inflatable rafts. In the summer it gets even more crowded. I remember standing on their deck and being able to count over a dozen boats in the small section of the lake in front of me.
This past summer my family decided they wanted to go out on the lake themselves. They had seen so many people out there having fun; they figured they might as well do it at least once. My grandparents called a local marina and decided to book a date. A week later we were out on the water. The people at the marina were all incredibly friendly, even when I’m sure we were annoying them. They gave us all very clear directions on how to navigate the lake, and made sure we all knew the safety precautions before we set out.
All in all the Beaver Dam has had a huge impact on the state of Arkansas. Not only has it helped prevent flood damage, therefore saving money and resources, but it has also given Arkansans more new and exciting things to do. So while tons of families, including mine, are out on the lake having fun, the dam is still right there, producing electricity and clean water for hundreds of thousands of people statewide.
Branyan, Scott. “Beaver Dam and Lake – Encyclopedia of Arkansas.” Beaver Dam and Lake –Encyclopedia of Arkansas. The Central Arkansas Library System, May 2013. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.
“LITTLE ROCK DISTRICT.” Little Rock District Missions Recreation Lakes Beaver Lake. US Army Corps of Engineers, n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.
AGFC. “Search AGFC.” AGFC. Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, 2011. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.
“Lakes.” Beaver Lake. Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism, 2016. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.
J.L. Llopis, C. M. Deaver, D. K. Butler, and S. C. Hartung. “Comprehensive Seepage Assessment: Beaver Dam, Arkansas.” International Conference on Case Histories in Geotechnical Engineering. Missouri University of Science and Technology, June 1988. Web. 25 Aug. 2016.