Chick Lock

Find a Project


Fishtrap Lake

Huntington Distric
Published Jan. 10, 2024

After extensive field studies and cost estimates were made, Congress appropriated funds. Construction began in February 1962. President Lyndon B. Johnson dedicated the project on October 26, 1968. The dam, built of native rock with a clay waterproof core, is 195 feet high and 1,000 feet long. The job required moving five million cubic yards of rock and earth. An outstanding job or rock treatment called a 'stairstep' excavation at the left end of the dam exposes the 330,000,000 year old Pennsylvania Period strata. Release of water from the lake is controlled by gates in the tower-like 'intake structure' located at the left end of the dam. From that structure, the water flows through a 15-½ foot diameter tunnel and discharges back into the Levisa Fork below the dam. If the lake should rise above its maximum permissible level during storage of potential floodwaters, then the four 'tainter' gates located in the spillways would be used to control additional releases.

Fishtrap Lake is located entirely in Pike County on the Levisa Fork of the Big Sandy River near the states of Virginia and West Virginia. The primary purpose is reduction of flood damages along Levisa Fork, Big Sandy River and the Ohio River, with minimal reductions on the Mississippi. At its maximum (flood storage) level, the lake would contain more than 54 billion gallons of water. During the summer recreation season, the lake is 16.5 miles long, has a surface area of 1,131 acres and contains about 12 billion gallons of water. It is 84 feet deep at the intake structure during summer pool. Part of this water is released all year for municipal water supply at Pikeville, 15 miles downstream from the dam.

Historical Information
Archaeological investigations in the Fishtrap lake area resulted in the recording of 33 prehistoric native American sites including 1 rock shelter, 8 late prehistoric village sites, and 24 open camp sites. Excavations at what is called the Sloane site at Woodside recovered 65,000 artifacts, now stored at the University of Kentucky. Life-styles of the pioneers, primarily of English and Scot Ancestry, consisted mainly of subsistence farming, hunting, trapping and timbering. The mountains provided a degree of security and privacy and also fostered an isolation of early cultural traits. Pike County was formed from a part of Floyd County in December of 1821, and was named in honor of the popular military hero, General Zebulon M. Pike. Later historical studies focus primarily on the Hatfield-McCoy feud in which Pike County, and what is now Mingo County, West Virginia, played major geographic role.

Chick Lock

Through deeds, not words, we are BUILDING STRONG®