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Dale Hollow Lake

Location: Clay, Pickett and Overton counties in Tennessee, and Cumberland and Clinton counties in Kentucky.

Acreage: 27,700 (water) and 24,842 (land).

Activities: Boating, fishing, swimming, camping.


Dale Hollow Reservoir straddles the Tennessee-Kentucky border in the Upper Cumberland region, and is formed by the damming of the Obey River just above where it empties into the Cumberland River. Dale Hollow is one of four major reservoirs along the Cumberland River, in addition to Percy Priest, Lake Cumberland and Center Hill.The world-record smallmouth bass was caught at Dale Hollow.


Dale Hollow Dam was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938, and again by the River & Harbor Act of 1946. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began work on the project in 1943.

In 1942, the town of Willow Grove was purchased by the federal government in order to create the reservoir. Its residents were forced to evacuate, and the town was eventually submerged.

Willow Grove was a large town for its location and its time. It had stores, churches and a large school with a gymnasium. There was a grist mill on the bank of Iron Creek. All of it was demolished in advance of the valley being flooded. Even today, when the levels of the lake drop low enough and the water is clear enough, the remnants of the old Willow Grove School can be seen beneath the surface from the air.

Dale Hollow was named for William Dale, the land owner who owned the land where the dam was eventually built.

Come to fish, come to play

Dale Hollow is popular today for a wide variety of recreational uses. Water sports are popular on the lake, especially water skiing. But the lake is even better-known for its angling opportunities. On July 9, 1955, David Hayes caught an 11 lb., 5 oz. smallmouth bass on the lake. It still stands as the world record.

Dale Hollow is unique for its undeveloped shoreline. The acreage surrounding the lake is public land, off-limits to development with the exception of a few amenities.

There are 12 marinas on Dale Hollow. The most easily-accessed of them is Sunset Marina & Resort, located in Byrdstown, Tenn. But there are many others, including Cedar Hill Resort, Dale Hollow Marina, Dale Hollow State Park Marine, Eagle Cove Resort & Marina, East Port Marina & Resort, Hendricks Creek Resort, Holly Creek Resort & Marina, Mitchell Creek Marina, Star Point Marina, Willow Grove Resort and Wolf River Resort & Marina. Most of the marinas are located on the Tennessee side of the lake.

Both the TN Wildlife Resources Agency and the Kentucky Dept. of Fish & Wildlife Resources have jurisdiction over the lake. However, there is a reciprocal fishing agreement in place — meaning that you’re covered throughout the lake as long as you have a fishing license from either of the two states.

Ben Garrett
Ben Garretthttp://gocumberlands.com
Ben Garrett is publisher of Go Cumberlands. He lives in Oneida, Tennessee with his wife, three kids and dog, Boone.

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