Minam Lake

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Minam Lake
Location Wallowa Mountains, Wallowa County, Oregon
Coordinates 45°10′56″N 117°21′01″W / 45.18222°N 117.35028°W / 45.18222; -117.35028Coordinates: 45°10′56″N 117°21′01″W / 45.18222°N 117.35028°W / 45.18222; -117.35028
Type Oligotrophic reservoir
Primary outflows Minam River and Lostine River
Catchment area 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2)
Basin countries United States
Surface area 59 acres (24 ha)
Average depth 10 feet (3.0 m)
Max. depth 28 feet (8.5 m)
Water volume 500 acre feet (620,000 m3)
Residence time 5 months
Shore length1 1.6 miles (2.6 km)
Surface elevation 7,379 feet (2,249 m)
References [1][2][3]
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Minam Lake is a high-elevation reservoir in the Eagle Cap Wilderness of the Wallowa Mountains in the U.S. state of Oregon.[1] The unusual reservoir, a modified natural lake, has outlets on both its north and south ends. The south outlet drains to the Minam River, and the north outlet is the source of the Lostine River.[3]

A natural lake at this spot had only a south outlet. In the early 20th century, the lake was enlarged and its flow altered by a 14-foot (4.3 m) high dam near the south end of the lake. The dam's purpose was to store additional water and to deflect it north for irrigation of farms in the Lostine Valley.[3]

It is said that minam is a word that evolved in the mid-19th century from the native word e-mi-ne-mah. The latter referred to the Minam River Valley, where a kind of plant with edible roots grew in abundance. Mah was a suffix meaning valley or canyon.[4]

Panorama of the lake

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Johnson, Daniel M.; Petersen, Richard R.; Lycan, D. Richard; Sweet, James W.; Neuhaus, Mark E., and Schaedel, Andrew L. (1985). Atlas of Oregon Lakes. Corvallis: Oregon State University Press. p. 235. ISBN 0-87071-343-4. 
  2. ^ "Minam Lake". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey. November 28, 1980. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b c "Atlas of Oregon Lakes: Minam Lake (Wallowa County)". Portland State University. 1985–2012. Retrieved December 12, 2012. 
  4. ^ McArthur, Lewis A.; McArthur, Lewis L. (2003) [1928]. Oregon Geographic Names (7th ed.). Portland, Oregon: Oregon Historical Society Press. pp. 648–49. ISBN 0-87595-277-1.