Kentucky Dam is 22 miles upstream from the confluence of the Tennessee River with the Ohio. The dam is the longest in the TVA system, and the reservoir—which stretches for 184 miles across Kentucky and Tennessee—is the largest in the eastern U.S.
Kentucky Reservoir is home to many varieties of fish, including largemouth and smallmouth bass, catfish, bluegill, sauger and crappie. Numerous boat docks and launching ramps dot the coves of Kentucky’s shoreline.
Located on Kentucky’s shores are the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, four state parks, the Tennessee National Wildlife Refuge, numerous public access areas and two state wildlife management areas. There are resorts and campsites, areas for swimming and picnicking and a back-country undeveloped recreation area for off-road vehicles.
Water skiing, sailing and windsurfing are popular here, as well as bicycling, horseback riding, hunting and fishing.
TVA utilizes the reservoir’s strategic location and vast storage capacity to help reduce flood crests on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers. Kentucky Dam is also a major producer of hydroelectric power. It has a net dependable generating capability of 184 megawatts.
The filling of Kentucky Reservoir in 1945 opened the Tennessee River to year-round navigation and linked the Tennessee Valley with the nation’s Inland Waterway System. Indeed, Kentucky Lock is the busiest in the eastern U.S.
The Visitor Center at Kentucky was refurbished in 2013. The center provides information about the history of TVA, the development of the Kentucky Dam, TVA's current activities and natural resource management in the area. This center is staffed with TVA retirees, and its hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from April through October.
Directions to Kentucky Dam:
From Paducah: Take 1-24E to exit 27 for US-62E toward Kentucky Dam; turn right onto US-62E and you will see Kentucky Dam on the right.
From Nashville: Take I-24W and follow signs for Clarksville; take exit 31 for KY-453 toward Grand Rivers; turn left onto KY453S/Dover Road. Take ramp to US-62W/US-641S then turn right. The destination will be on your right.
Kentucky: Facts + Figures
- Construction of Kentucky Dam began in 1938 and was completed in 1944.
- The dam is 206 feet high and 8,422 feet long.
- Kentucky Dam is a hydroelectric facility. It has five generating units with a summer net dependable capacity of 223 megawatts. Net dependable capacity is the amount of power a dam can produce on an average day, minus the electricity used by the dam itself.
- Kentucky Reservoir features 2,064 miles of cove-studded shoreline and about 160,300 acres of water surface.
- The reservoir drains the entire Tennessee Valley watershed, which covers an area of 40,900 square miles.
- Kentucky has a flood storage capacity of 4,008,000 acre-feet, more than 2.5 times the capacity of the next-largest reservoir in the TVA system.
- Kentucky helps reduce flood damage on six million acres of the lower Ohio and Mississippi rivers and reduces the frequency of flooding on another 4 million acres.
- To maintain the depth required for navigation, the water level in the reservoir is kept at a minimum winter elevation of 354 feet. The typical summer target level is 359 feet.
- Find Kentucky Dam at 640 Kentucky Dam Rd., Grand Rivers, Ky.
More Information on Kentucky Reservoir
The Unified Development of the Tennessee River plan
stressed TVA was to provide flood control, navigation and electricity for the region. TVA’s dams are tangible evidence of its primary mission: improving life in the Tennessee Valley. We’re celebrating the plan with an in-depth look at 32 of the dams it comprises.
TVA’s Mightiest Work
In dedicating the massive Kentucky Dam, President Harry S. Truman summed up the success of TVA, a formula comprised of modern science, good management and common sense. Read more about the historic occasion.