Buckeye Lake (Ohio)

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Buckeye Lake
Buckeye Lake Ohio.jpg
Location Fairfield, Licking, and Perry Counties, Ohio, USA
Coordinates 39°55′17″N 82°30′52″W / 39.92139°N 82.51444°W / 39.92139; -82.51444Coordinates: 39°55′17″N 82°30′52″W / 39.92139°N 82.51444°W / 39.92139; -82.51444
Type Reservoir
Basin countries United States
Surface area 3,173 acres (12.84 km2)
Surface elevation 892 ft
Islands Round Island
Settlements Millersport, Buckeye Lake

Buckeye Lake is a reservoir in Fairfield, Licking, and Perry Counties in the U.S. state of Ohio.[1] It was the first large reservoir built in America and became Ohio's first state park in 1949. Built near the highest point of elevation between the watersheds of the Scioto and Muskingum Rivers, it was constructed to supply water for the Ohio and Erie Canal system. The village of Buckeye Lake grew up on the shores of the lake.


As early as the 1750's, the area that would become Buckeye Lake was described as a great swamp known as "Buffalo Lick". The main Indian Trails between the Ohio River and the Miami towns passed by this swamp.[2] Construction of a dike to block the South Fork of the Licking River occurred between 1826 and 1830, to provide a source of water for the Ohio and Erie Canal.[3] When filled in 1830, the lake was known as Licking Summit Reservoir. The canal between Lake Erie and the Ohio River was opened in 1833. In May 1894, the canal having fallen mostly out of use, the lake was repurposed for recreation, the area being dedicated as a public park and renamed "Buckeye Lake". The railroads that had put the canal out of business now brought summer visitors and a town and resort grew up around the lake.

Dam safety concerns[edit]

In the summer of 2014, warning sirens were installed around the lake to alert residents of a dam failure. A website, www.buckeylakedamsafety.com was also created by Fairfield and Licking county EMA's to warn residents in case a failure of Buckeye Lake Dam was imminent.

In March 2015, the Huntington District of the Army Corps of Engineers released a structural inspection report which identified numerous weaknesses in the lake's dam and warned that the lake was in imminent danger of a dam failure. Corps officials proposed a range of possible solutions, including completely replacing the dam or entirely draining the lake.[4]

In March, 2015, some businesses located downstream of the dam chose to close for safety reasons.[5]


  1. ^ DeLorme. Ohio Atlas & Gazetteer. 7th ed. Yarmouth: DeLorme, 2004, p. 69. ISBN 0-89933-281-1.
  2. ^ Darlington, William (1870). An Account of the Remarkable Occurrences in the life and travels of Col. James Smith, during his captivity with the indians, in the years 1755, '56, '57, '58 & 59 (PDF). Cincinnati: Robert Clarket & Co. p. 168. 
  3. ^ Brockway, Chance (2005). Images of America Buckeye Lake. Arcadia Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 0-7385-4005-6. 
  4. ^ Lyttle, Eric (March 12, 2015). "Report: Buckeye Lake dam in danger of failure". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved March 12, 2015. 
  5. ^ Ludlow, Randy (March 18, 2015). "Buckeye Lake dam danger prompts preschool to close". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved March 18, 2015. 

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