NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 13, 2018) – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District invites the public to attend a ceremony to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of J. Percy Priest Dam and Reservoir 10 a.m. Friday, June 29, 2018. The dam will serve as the backdrop for this historical occasion.
The mayors of Nashville, Lavergne and Smyrna, as well as a Nashville Metro District councilmember and biographer of Congressman J. Percy Priest, are participating in the celebration. A commemoration plaque unveiling is also planned.
The ceremony is exactly 50 years to the day after President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated J. Percy Priest Dam and Reservoir June 29, 1968. He highlighted how the lake would reduce flooding, supply water, create hydroelectric power, and most importantly, provide recreation within 10 miles of Nashville.
“It is a perfect example of the new conservation – 18,000 acres of unspoiled nature within easy driving distance of a half a million people for boating, for camping, for hiking, for swimming,” Johnson said during the dedication.
The president stressed that the “new conservation” must build on a principle of bringing nature closer to the people. The president’s vision for J. Percy Priest Lake continues to be realized as the population of Nashville has grown to nearly two million people. This urban population has helped the lake achieve nationwide recognition as it is consistently ranked in the top 10 most visited Corps of Engineers lakes in the county.
J. Percy Priest Lake supplies an estimated $132 million of recreational economic impacts annually to local communities. The Nashville District operates three campgrounds, six picnic areas, 15 launch ramps, while maintaining lease agreements with five marinas, four local municipalities for greenways, ball fields, and parks, the YMCA, and the state of Tennessee for wildlife management areas, the Stones River Hunter Education Center, and Long Hunter State Park.
The dam is visible from Interstate 40 and is located between miles six and seven of the Stones River. This 2,716-foot long structure stands 130 feet high and its hydropower unit can produce 28,000 kilowatts of hydroelectricity per hour.
J. Percy Priest Lake is named in honor of Rep. James Percy Priest, who was a high school teacher, coach and reporter/editor for the Nashville Tennessean before he was elected to Congress. He represented Nashville and Davidson County from 1940 until his death in 1956. Congress officially changed the project name from Stewart's Ferry to J. Percy Priest July 2, 1958. The project’s groundbreaking took place June 29, 1963.
Park rangers will direct traffic to parking areas at the dam site the morning of the ceremony. As a security precaution, the public is asked not to bring backpacks or coolers. Lawn chairs are allowed, water bottles are permitted and carpooling is recommended.
In the case of inclement weather, information on the event status will be updated on J. Percy Priest Lake’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/jpercypriestlake. For more information about this event, call the Resource Manager’s Office at 615-889-1975.
The J. Percy Priest 50th Anniversary website is available at https://www.lrn.usace.army.mil/jpercypriestdam50/ and includes historical video and imagery, news articles and resources.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at http://www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps, and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps. The public can also follow J. Percy Priest Lake on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/jpercypriestlake.)