Lake Monroe (Indiana)

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Lake Monroe
Satellite image of the lake
Location Monroe / Brown counties, Indiana, United States
Coordinates 39°03′31″N 86°26′47″W / 39.0587°N 86.4464°W / 39.0587; -86.4464Coordinates: 39°03′31″N 86°26′47″W / 39.0587°N 86.4464°W / 39.0587; -86.4464
Type Reservoir
Primary inflows Salt Creek
Primary outflows Salt Creek
Basin countries United States
Surface area 10,750 acres (4,350 ha)
Max. depth 18 m (59 ft)
Water volume 292 to 428 million cubic meters (1.03×1010 to 1.51×1010 cu ft)
Residence time 185–408 days

Lake Monroe is a reservoir located about 10 miles (16 km) southeast of Bloomington, Indiana, United States. The lake is the largest wholly in Indiana with 10,750 acres (43.5 km2) of water surface area spread over the counties of Monroe and Brown. Capacity varies from 292 gigalitres (237,000 acre·ft) to 428 gigalitres (347,000 acre·ft)[1] depending on water level. It is also home to 13,202 acres (53.43 km2) of protected forest and three recreational areas (Fairfax, Hardin Ridge, and Paynetown). Indiana's only federally protected U.S. Wilderness Area, the 13,000-acre (53 km2) Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area, is located on the south shore. The pool elevation (above sea level) is about 538 ft (164 m) year-round. During colder winters, limited ice fishing is available on protected backwater portions of the reservoir. Lake Monroe was the last lake in Indiana to allow blast fishing until a ban was passed in 1985.[2]

Ransburg Scout Reservation, a large Boy Scout camp comprising over 624 acres, is situated along the eastern shore with a private dock system in Siscoe Bay (also known as Boy Scout Bay). The largest marina situated on the lake is the Fourwinds Resort and Marina with over 800 boats. The reservoir provides abundant fishing throughout the year, and recreational opportunities such as boating and water skiing attract visitors from throughout Indiana and the Midwest.

Construction of Monroe[edit]

Salt Creek's valley below the dam; this is what land now under the lake looked like before the lake was built

Construction on the lake began in 1960 and was finished in 1965 at a cost of $16.5 million. Salt Creek was dammed south of Bloomington, Indiana and the reservoir fills the valley to the northeast of the dam extending into adjacent Brown County. It was thought that Elkinsville, a town in southern Brown County, had to be abandoned due to the path of the backwaters. Therefore the town was acquired through the power of eminent domain. Later, this was found not to be necessary; the result of a mistake in elevation estimates.[citation needed] The lake was designed as a primary water source for the City of Bloomington and to prevent flood damage downstream. The lake was created and is still managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Louisville District.


There is a variety of local stories that take place around the Lake Monroe area. Several revolve around a local ne'er-do-well named Jon Conley. According to some stories, Conley is an escaped criminal (or, in some stories, the ghost of a criminal) who lurks the backwaters of the lake looking for victims to kill. There was a historical Jonathan Conley who was wrongly hanged for the crime of arson in 1923 by the Monroe County Sheriff.[3] With his last act, Conley is said to have vowed revenge upon the county forever. However, the connection between that Conley and the one from urban legends seems tenuous at best, according to historians. For example, at that time, the county's gallows were not on the site of what is now Lake Monroe but instead in downtown Bloomington at the corner of Kirkwood Ave. and Dunn St.[4]


  1. ^ Cole, Thomas. "Water Quality Modeling of Lake Monroe Using CE-QUAL-W2". US Army Corps of Engineers. Retrieved 30 December 2011. 
  2. ^ Bell, Adie (1993). Hunting and Fishing With Dynamite. Unionville Press. p. 101. ISBN 0-916735-20-9 Check |isbn= value (help). 
  3. ^ Werner, Nicholas (1937). Mysterious Circumstances Of Central Indiana. Clayton Books. p. 141. ISBN 07134314109 Check |isbn= value (help). 
  4. ^ Joseph, Ian V. (1958). Indiana Lynchings: A Pictorial History. Yellowood Books. p. 213. ISBN 0-652-73070-6 Check |isbn= value (help). 

External links[edit]