|Location||Pittsylvania / Bedford, Campbell counties, Virginia, USA|
|Basin countries||United States|
|Max. length||17 miles (27 km)|
|Max. width||1,600 feet (490 m)|
|Surface area||3,410 acres (13.8 km2)|
|Max. depth||41 feet (12 m)|
|Shore length1||110 miles (180 km)|
|Surface elevation||620 feet (190 m)|
|1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.|
The smaller and lower of the two lakes, Leesville Lake, covers 3,270 acres (13 km²) and contains 94,900 acre feet (117,100,000 m3) of water at full pond. The lake is 17 miles in length with around 110 miles of shoreline. It is located southeast of Roanoke, Virginia, and southwest of Lynchburg, Virginia.
Initial proposals were made in the late 1920s to dam the Roanoke River and the Blackwater River at the Smith Mountain gorge to generate electricity. Construction of the Smith Mountain Dam began in 1960 and was completed in 1963.
The area lies in a broad valley nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of rural southwestern Virginia of the Appalachian chain. Before the lake's creation, farming and logging were the primary industries.
The dam produces hydro-electric power mostly during hours of peak demand on the American Electric Power system. Water passes from Smith Mountain lake through generators to Leesville Lake, producing power. In times of low demand, the generators are used as pumps to reverse the flow and return the water to Smith Mountain Lake.
This takes advantage of the more or less constant output of Steam generation plants in off-peak periods. In its partnership role with Smith Mountain Lake generating power, Leesville Lake has a maximum refill rate of 1.33 feet (41 cm) per hour and a maximum drawdown rate of 0.46 feet (14 cm) per hour. Normal fluctuation consists of two to three feet on average with an absolute maximum of 10 feet allowing Leesville Lake to avoid the drastic drawdowns of other area lakes.
Leesville Lake is becoming a popular recreational area. Fishing is very popular, especially for striped bass. The state record striped bass was caught out of Leesville Lake in 2000. Boating, water skiing, wakeboarding, and riding personal watercraft are also common activities.
Since the 1960s, the area around Leesville Lake has remained relatively rural and remote with mostly corn, tobacco, small family farms and other agriculture. The limited early residential developments around the lake consisted largely of family farms. Since about 2004, however, residential growth has begun to expand rather quickly and lakefront homes and communities now dot the shoreline. Nevertheless, Leesville Lake continues to be a destination for families, fishing and general recreation as boat traffic on the lake remains low as opposed to nearby Smith Mountain Lake, Kerr Lake and Lake Gaston. For this reason, stewardship of the lake has been of the utmost importance to neighbors and friends of the lake striving to maintain the high level of water quality to which they are accustomed.
Access to Leesville Lake is primarily by way of US29 although State Route 43 and State Route 40 provide access to the north and south sides of the lake, respectively. Owing to its proximity to US29, the real estate market in and around the Leesville Lake area has attracted increased interest among investors and secondary residents alike as market conditions continue to be extremely favorable. It is to be expected that values will be on par with current valuations on nearby Smith Mountain Lake as accessible property on the lake becomes more rare.