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. 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.
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.