Dale 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.