Lake Marble Falls
General Adam Rankin Johnson founded Marble Falls in 1887 along the Colorado River. The city received its name due to the water that flowed over the marble shelves in the river. Just ten years after its founding, Marble Falls was bustling with a railroad line to Austin, a post office, tannery, shoe factory, hotel, a newspaper, and three general stores.
In 1951, construction of Starcke Dam was completed, which created what is now Lake Marble Falls. This completed General Johnson’s original vision of using the river as a source of power.
Lake Buchanan was built in 1937 with the creation of Buchanan Dam by the Lower Colorado River Authority. Buchanan Dam is over two miles long and is still considered the longest multiple arch dam in the United States. Lake Buchanan and Buchanan Dam were created to provide hydroelectricity to the area and they are still used for that purpose today. The lake was also constructed to store water and help bring an end to flooding problems that regularly plagued the Austin area. Originally called Hamilton Dam and Reservoir, Lake Buchanan’s name was changed in recognition of Texas Congressman James Paul Buchanan who had secured the funding to build the dam and lake.
Inks Lake is a man made lake created during the great depression of the 1930’s. The Lower Colorado River Authority built Inks Lake with the creation of Buchanan Dam and Inks Dam, projects which provided employment to over 1,500 through the Civilian Conservation Corps. Of course, the history of the area does not just begin in the 1930’s with the creation of Inks Lake. As far back as 8,000 years ago people lived among the banks of the Colorado River and Spanish and Anglo settlers set up communities here as well. But the creation of the Highland Lakes, of which Inks Lake is the second of six lakes, made the area much safer by controlling the constant flooding that plagued the area.
Lake LBJ, named for former President Lyndon Baines Johnson, is considered one of the most scenic reservoir lakes in the chain of Highland Lakes. Lake LBJ was built by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) to provide hydroelectric power and was later used for cooling water for the Thomas C. Ferguson Natural Gas Power Plant. The construction of Lake LBJ took place between 1948 and 1951. The lake was originally named Granite Shoals Lake until it’s name was changed in honor of Lyndon Baines Johnson in 1965 for his efforts as a Congressman and Senator toward the development of the Highland Lakes. Lake LBJ’s dam was also renamed to Wirtz Dam in 1952, named after Alvin J. Wirtz, the first general counsel of the LCRA. Lake LBJ is an almost constant level lake, and its 21-mile length make it popular with boaters, including sailing boats.
Lake Travis begins as not much more than a river as it snakes it way from Burnet County through Travis County and onwards toward Austin over 63 miles of Texas Hill Country, widening and deepening as it progresses. It was created with the construction of Mansfield Dam, built from 1937 to 1941 by the Lower Colorado River Authority. One of its primary functions is flood control, with the water level constantly changing depending on the weather and flood conditions. The Mansfield Dam is the only dam in the Highland Lakes that was built specifically to contain the floodwaters of the lower Colorado Basin (up to 260 billion gallons of flood water).
This lake also provides water for the Austin metropolitan area and irrigation water for farmers downstream, generates electricity, and provides water recreation for a number of Central Texans. Lake Travis also boasts some of the clearest water of any of the Highland Lakes.