Texas Highland Lakes
The Texas Highland Lakes is a chain of seven fresh water reservoirs in Central Texas formed by several dams on the Colorado River. This portion of the river winds southeast from its headwaters near the border of Texas and New Mexico to Matagorda Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The dams provide flood control and are used to generate hydroelectric power. They also provide recreational opportunities and edible fishes.
The dams and lakes are as follows (from northwest to southeast, upstream to downstream):
- Buchanan Dam — Lake Buchanan
- Inks Dam — Inks Lake
- Wirtz Dam — Lake LBJ
- Max Starcke Dam — Lake Marble Falls
- Mansfield Dam — Lake Travis
- Tom Miller Dam — Lake Austin
- Longhorn Dam — Lady Bird Lake
The Colorado River with its history of major flooding, especially in the city of Austin, was "tamed" by the construction of the dams in the Texas Hill Country. Engineers used the hills to form the lakes' basins.
All of the six upper dams were constructed by the Lower Colorado River Authority during the 1930s and 1940s following two previously unsuccessful attempts to construct a dam upstream from Austin.
In 1960, the City of Austin then constructed Longhorn Dam to form Lady Bird Lake, the chain's seventh lake. Originally known as Town Lake from 1960 to 2007, Lady Bird Lake was created mainly to help beautify Downtown Austin and to form a cooling pond for Seaholm Power Plant, a now-defunct power station whose historic building is still situated on Lady Bird Lake's northern bank.