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Nimrod Dam and Lake

Nimrod Dam in western Perry County is the oldest project of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the state of Arkansas, created to control flooding along the Fourche La Fave River. Nimrod Lake, the reservoir created by the dam, stretches across the border of Perry and Yell counties and is a popular attraction for fishermen and duck hunters. The dam and lake take their names from the nearby community of Nimrod (Perry County), itself named after the biblical figure.

The construction of Nimrod Dam was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938. Damming the Fourche La Fave was considered an economical means of protecting communities and valuable crop land in Yell and Perry counties, as well as lessening spring flooding of the Arkansas River, into which the Fourche La Fave drains. Engineers began testing the proposed site for Nimrod Dam in October 1938, and the Department of War announced in January of the following year that the Nimrod site would be one of the seven Arkansas River Basin sites chosen for the construction of a dam. Extreme flooding along the Fourche La Fave in April 1939, which washed out two bridges and put a number of others under water, emphasized for dam proponents the need for flood control along the river.

Core drilling work was completed in August 1939, and, in January 1940, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began receiving bids for the construction of the dam and incidental buildings. On March 23, 1940, the Corps selected Russ Mitchell Company, Inc., and Brown and Root, Inc., of Houston, Texas, which had placed a bid of just over $1.1 million, and the federal government soon began acquiring land for the reservoir area. By October 1941, the dam was largely complete. Heavy rains the following month completely filled the reservoir, providing an unexpected test of the dam’s stability. By February 1942, the final clearing of trees from the dam’s reservoir area was being carried out, with the whole project reaching completion in March 1942. The estimated cost of the entire project came to just under $3.8 million.

Since its creation, Nimrod Lake has become a tourist destination. The lake is situated along the northern boundary of the Ouachita National Forest, with the Nimrod Wildlife Management Area to its west and Highway 7, an Arkansas Scenic Byway, to its east. The lake is home to crappie, bass, and catfish, as well as numerous species of waterfowl. A 2,400-acre duck-hunting area is located upon project lands, as are five modern campgrounds.

For additional information:
Nimrod Lake. http://www.swl.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/Lakes/NimrodLake.aspx (accessed May 10, 2013).

Perry County Historical & Genealogical Society. Perry County, Arkansas: Its Land & People. Marceline, MO: Walsworth Publishing Company, 2004.

Guy Lancaster
Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture

Last Updated 5/10/2013

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