Barren River Lake

Louisville District
Published Jan. 10, 2024
Aerial view of the tailwater and Dam at Barren River Lake in Glasgow, Kentucky.

Aerial view of the tailwater and Dam at Barren River Lake in Glasgow, Kentucky.

Aerial view of the tailwater and dam at Barren River Lake in Glasgow, Kentucky.

11088 Finney Road
Glasgow, KY 42141
(270) 646-2055
Office hours: M-F, 6:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. (Central) (may vary, call ahead)

Information Line: (270) 646-2122 (updated daily)

Lake Levels 

Lake Temperatures

Please visit our Facebook page by clicking here.


Barren River Lake is situated in the rural, rolling hills of Allen, Barren and Monroe counties in South Central Kentucky.  The dam is located 12 miles east of Scottsville, KY and 15 miles southwest of Glasgow, KY on State Highway 252.


Barren River Lake was authorized under the Flood Control Act of 1938.  Construction began on the dam in March 1960 and the lake became operational in October 1964.  Barren River Lake covers 20,150 acres at maximum flood control pool and 10,000 acres at normal summer pool. The drainage area above the dam is 940 square miles, and since its completion has prevented more than 3 times its original construction cost in flood damages.


A native grass prairie restoration project, near the dam, is representative of what "The Barrens" looked like to early pioneers.

Anglers, boaters and campers are only the most recent people to enjoy the beauty and natural resources of the Barren River Region. As early as 12,000 B.C., Native Americans fished, boated, and lived along the river's floodplain and terraces, and on the bluffs overlooking it. These people lived in small groups that moved often. Around 1,000 B.C. they moved more into farming and built more permanent settlements. By A.D. 900 farming was a way of life and archeologists refer to these farmers as the Mississippians.

Native Americans periodically burned off parts of this region, to provide grasslands that were attractive to grazing buffalo. Thus, this area without trees, appeared to be "barren." This area then came to be known as "The Barrens" to early pioneers that came to this area in the 1700s to settle and live.

The counties of Barren, Allen and Monroe were formerly part of Green and Warren counties and were established around 1797. Originally the entire territory had been set aside for military service grants for veterans of the Revolutionary War.

Port Oliver, near the dam, was formerly called Port Oliver Ford, and was the site of a brine-well field for producing table salt. Baileys Point Recreation Area was the site of an antebellum farmhouse, built by early settlers to the area, named Foster. A family cemetery remains with gravestones and stone vaults that date back to the early 1800s.

Adjacent Landowner Information  

Fee Boundary

Barren River Lake has approximately 140 miles of fee boundary line (often referred to as the “red line”) surrounding 10,106 acres of government land. The government property line is marked by a series of survey points (t-bars or concrete/brass markers) that are further marked by steel locator posts. The government property line is a straight line between these survey points. Trees between these points are marked with white/red boundary marker signs. The boundary line does not always follow a specific elevation. It’s possible that recorded plats of private property do not agree with the true boundary line at Barren River Lake. To prevent encroachments, we recommend that adjacent property buyers contract the services of a licensed surveyor prior to purchase, and that current owners contract the services of a licensed surveyor prior to any construction. Any discrepancies must be resolved prior to any construction activities on any land in question. Any encroachments onto lands owned in fee by the United States are subject to collateral citations, which can result in a fine not to exceed $5,000 and/or up to six months in jail, and the responsible party will be required to remove the encroaching structure. Questions and requests for assistance should be made to the project office.

Flowage Easement

In addition to fee property, the Corps of Engineers has also purchased flowage easements on 4,561 acres around Barren River Lake using the ground elevation of 596 as an acquisition guide. These easements were purchased for the temporary storage of flood water during periods of high rainfall. Because of the potential for flooding, allowable improvements to property with flowage easement restrictions are limited. Vegetation alteration (mowing, agriculture, timber harvesting, etc.) is allowed under the flowage easement restrictions. Structures not intended for human habitation are allowed only after written permission in the form of a Consent to Easement has been obtained from the Corps of Engineers. Septic systems and structures intended for human habitation are prohibited on land encumbered with a flowage easement.

The boundary line of flowage easement property (often referred to as the “yellow line”) is not marked by the government. Legal descriptions of acquired flowage easements are contained in the Government’s acquisition documents recorded in the County Clerk’s Office, and should appear as an encumbrance against the property during a title search. Some information on the boundary of flowage easement property is available at the Barren River Lake project office. To locate the boundary line on any affected property, however, the Corps of Engineers recommends that landowners obtain the services of a licensed surveyor. Encroachments on land encumbered by a flowage easement are violations of legal restrictions on the property and are subject to litigation. They also constitute a title defect which may affect the future sale of the landowner’s property, and the Government cannot assist landowners in the resolution of title defects. Before doing any type of construction or landscaping near the yellow line, contact the project office and speak with a Park Ranger.

For questions about the fee or flowage easement boundary line at Barren River Lake, contact the Barren River Lake project office. An appointment with a Corps Ranger can be scheduled to assist with answering any questions.

Licenses and Permits

Landowners in subdivisions adjacent to Barren River Lake may be eligible to apply for a license or permit to conduct certain activities on government property, including placement of a boat dock, construction of stairs or steps, construction of a pathway (improved or unimproved), vegetation alteration (mowing), construction of roads, turnarounds, parking areas, boat ramps, and installation of fish attractors. Once placed on government property, these improvements are considered public facilities and adjacent landowners cannot restrict the public’s use of the facilities. Restrictions apply as to where on the lake these activities may take place. For additional information, call the Barren River Lake project office. 

Shoreline Use, Permits and Licenses

Barren River Lake allows shoreline uses through permits and licenses in accordance with their lake’s Shoreline Management Plan. Contact the project office at (270) 646-2055. 


Louisville District Public Affairs
Barren River Lake