Dale Hollow Dam

Dale Hollow Dam SpillsDale Hollow Dam is located approximately three miles east of Celina, Tennessee on the Obey River, 7.3 miles above its juncture with the Cumberland River at river mile 380.0. Dale Hollow Lake covers portions of Clay, Pickett, Overton and Fentress Counties in Tennessee and Clinton and Cumberland Counties in Kentucky. The project consists of 27,700 surface acres of water and 24,842 acres of surrounding land.

Dale Hollow Dam and Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938 and the River and Harbor Act of 1946. The project was completed for flood control in 1943. Power generating units were added in 1948, 1949 and 1953. The project was designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and built by private contractors under the supervision of the Corps. The dam, powerplant and reservoir are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District.

Dale Hollow Dam is one of the multipurpose projects that make up the Corps of Engineers’ system for development of the water resources of the Cumberland River Basin. As a major unit in the system, Dale Hollow Dam and Lake function to control the floodwaters of the Obey River and contribute to the reduction of flood levels at municipal, industrial and agricultural areas along the Cumberland, lower Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

The dam provides hydropower and supports its other intended purposes such as flood risk reduction, water supply, environmental stewardship, and outdoor recreation. The Nashville District designed Dale Hollow Dam and Morrison-Knudsen, private contractors under the supervision of the Corps, built the dam.  The Corps awarded the contract Dec. 30, 1941 and mobilization, clearing and construction of roadways and support structures began immediately.  Construction of the dam began March 2, 1942.  With sister construction of civil works projects suspended due to war, Dale Hollow Dam was rushed to completion on Oct. 20, 1943, but discontinued construction of the powerhouse.  

The Corps fully impounded Dale Hollow Lake May 7, 1944.  Work on the power house resumed in July 1946.  Three Francis turbines were installed in December 1948, January 1949 and November 1953.  Each unit generates 18,000 kilowatts for a total of 54,000 kilowatts, enough power to electrify a community of 45,000 and provide support to the national grid. 

The dam impounds a length of 61 miles of the Obey River creating Dale Hollow Lake with 620 miles of shoreline, 27,700 acres of water, and 24,842 acres of land for recreational opportunities.


Dale Hollow Dam PowerplantIn addition to the far-reaching effects of flood control, the project contributes to the electrical power supply of the area through the generation of clean, safe and efficient hydroelectric power.

In the generation of power, water from the reservoir enters gate-controlled intakes into the powerhouse, rotates the turbines and discharges through draft tubes into the river below the dam. Generators mounted on the same shafts with the turbines produce electricity. The electrical voltage is increased by transformers in the switchyard and distributed by transmission lines.

Power produced at Dale Hollow is sufficient to supply the needs of an average city of 45,000 people.

Pertinent Data

The chart below provides statistical data on the dam, powerplant and reservoir.  Visitation data can be found further down in this page.

Dale Hollow Dam Statistical Information

 Type Concrete-gravity
 Concrete, cubic yards 573,760
 Maximum height, feet 200
 Length, feet  1,717
 Elevations (above mean sea level):
 Top of dam 678
 Top of gates 663
 Spillway crest 651
 Spillway crest gates:
 Number and type 6, tainter
 Size (width and height), feet 4 X 6
 Discharge capacity, c.f.s. 166,000
 Number of conduits 4
 Size (width and height), feet 4 X 6
 Total discharge capacity, c.f.s. 6,200

 Installation 54,000 kw in 3 units
 Rating, each generator, kilowatts 18,000
 Estimated energy output,
 average yearly, kilowatt-hours

 Drainage area, square miles 935
 Area, acres:
 Top of flood-control pool (Elev. 663) 30,990
 Maximum power pool (Elev. 651) 27,700
 Minimum power pool (Elev. 631) 21,880
 Storage capacities, acre-feet:
 Flood control (below Elev. 663) 1,706,000
 Permanent Pool (below Elec. 631) 857,000
 Power drawdown (Elev. 651-631) 496,000
 Flood Control (El. 663-651) 353,000
 Length of pool at Elev. 663, river miles 61
 Length of shoreline, pool at Elev. 663, miles 620

Dale Hollow Visitation

FY Visits/
Visitor Hours Trip Spending within 30 mile radius (Millions) Direct Sales to Tourism Related Firms (Millions) Direct Personal Income (Millions) Supported Direct Jobs Total Sales (Millions) Total Personal Income (Millions) Total Jobs Average Spending Per Visit
2011 2,824,267 44,067,703 $67.54 $35.34 $12.62 641.00 $51.93 $17.92 839.00 $23.91
2010 3.027,861 47,556,435 $72.40 $37.89 $13.53 687.00 $55.67 $19.22 900.00 $23.91
2009 3.226,486 51,976,516 $77.15 $40.37 $14.42 732.00 $59.32 $20.48 959.00 $23.91
2008 3.415,891 56,422,690 $65.35 $35.66 $13.45 899.98 $46.00 $16.85 1.045.78 $19.13
2007 3,386,000 56,583,326 $64.78 $35.35 $13.33 892.08 $45.59 $16.70 1,036.60 $19.13
2006 3,390,984 56,620,861 $64.87 $35.40 $13.35 893.40 $45.66 $16.72 1,038.13 $19.13