Lake Koocanusa

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Lake Koocanusa
Lake Koocanusa.jpg
Location of Lake Koocanusa in Montana, USA.
Location of Lake Koocanusa in Montana, USA.
Lake Koocanusa
Location of Lake Koocanusa in Montana, USA.
Location of Lake Koocanusa in Montana, USA.
Lake Koocanusa
LocationMontana / British Columbia
Coordinates48°23′N 115°19′W / 48.383°N 115.317°W / 48.383; -115.317Coordinates: 48°23′N 115°19′W / 48.383°N 115.317°W / 48.383; -115.317
Lake typereservoir
Primary inflowsKootenay River
Primary outflowsKootenai River
Basin countriesUnited States, Canada
Surface elevation2,459 feet (750 m)

Lake Koocanusa is a reservoir in British Columbia (Canada) and Montana (United States) formed by the damming of the Kootenay River by the Libby Dam in 1972. The Dam was formally dedicated by President Gerald Ford on August 24, 1975.[1]

The Kootenai Bridge over Lake Koocanusa from the east bank.

The lake is formed north of the dam, reaching 48 miles (77 km) to the Canada–United States border and 42 miles (68 km) further into British Columbia. The lake holds 13% of the water in the Columbia River system. The town of Rexford was moved, as well as the Great Northern Railway line. The town of Waldo, British Columbia is now covered by the lake. What was once a barrier to river travel, Jennings Canyon is now inundated by the lake.[2] The Elk River joins the Kootenay River in the northern part of Lake Koocanusa, within Canadian territory.

Lake Koocanusa was named in a contest won by Alice Beers of Rexford, Montana[citation needed]. The name is made from the first three letters of the Kootenay (alternately, Kootenai) River, Canada, and USA.

Lake Koocanusa was built as a joint project of the U.S. and Canada. It is 26 km (16 mi) from Libby, Montana, also on the Kootenai River, from which the dam gets its name. Libby Dam has a Visitors Center and can be accessed by the Lake Koocanusa Scenic Byway which begins in the nearby town of Libby, Montana.

The Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail follows Highway 37 along the east side of the lake before crossing over the Lake Koocanusa Bridge and climbing up Webb Mountain.


  1. ^ "Remarks at Dedication Ceremonies for the Libby Dam, Libby, Montana. | the American Presidency Project".
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 2011-07-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]