Swimming in Lake Whitney

Lake Whitney Dam

Bluebonnets at Lake Whitney dam

Viewed from both upstream and downstream, a visit to Lake Whitney Dam is worth the time.

Several parks surround the dam, each offering different views of the 3 mile long dam including the spillway section that is 159 feet above the old Brazos River bed and 1,680 feet long.

Whitney Lake dam

On the east side of the dam,   Lofers Bend Day Use Park contains one of the two swimming beaches on the lake and also has a large boat ramp,  picnic tables with BBQ grills, and sand volleyball courts. At the end of a busy day, it’s also a great place to view the sunset over Lake Whitney.

On the west side of the dam, the banks of West Lofers Bend Park are filled with bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush in the springtime. 

A short drive down the first road west of the dam on the south side of Highway 22 will take you to the powerhouse and a view of the other side of the dam. Here you can see  water being released from the dam at a controlled rate back into the Brazos River.

Lake Whitney dam

From there, the river flows towards Waco and continues until it reaches the Gulf of Mexico at Brazosport, about 50 miles southwest of Galveston.

History of Lake Whitney Dam

Lake Whitney Dam was constructed in the late 1940’s to prevent flooding downstream, especially in Waco where earlier floods had left thousands of people homeless. The site where S. C. Dyer built the first dam on the Brazos in 1853 was chosen as an ideal location.

Tons of ice were used daily in the concrete mix during the summers, to keep it from setting too soon. The railroad transported most of the supplies needed for construction. The town of Whitney boomed - street lights were installed and eight blocks in the business district were paved.

Opening Day ceremonies for the newly rerouted State Highway 22 over the dam in March of 1951 drew a crowd of 25,000, including dignitaries, press, and local residents gathered to hear the speeches over loud speakers and to watch the boat races.

Lake Whitney 1957 flood Construction of the 12-story high powerhouse began in April 1951 and was completed in June 1953. On the lowest level 92 feet below the lake's normal level, two penstocks (tubes for conducting water), each 16 feet in diameter, carry the water stored in Whitney Lake to two hydraulic turbines which are connected to two generators. 

In 1957, the dam served the purpose for which it was built.  Heavy rains began in April of that year, but the dam protected Waco and its residents from severe flood damage, just as designed.

Back to Top