Commonwealth Journal

Local News

May 7, 2014

A joyous celebration for Lake Cumberland

Somerset —

A ribbon-cutting ceremony at 3 p.m. Friday will celebrate the return of Lake Cumberland as the third largest body of water east of the Mississippi River and the ninth biggest reservoir in America.
U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who snubbed the dastardly duskytail darter to get Lake Cumberland back to normal this season, will be on hand for the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce event at Lee’s Ford Resort Marina. Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is invited but his presence is not confirmed.
McConnell is expected to make a short talk, no doubt relating his experiences with a rare minnow that almost suffocated the economy of a 10-county region. Later, at 7 p.m., “Caught Red Handed” with Kevin Dalton will be featured as part of the Harbor Deck Concert Series. Harbor Deck is a vantage point with a magnificent view of Lake Cumberland.
The celebratory moments are at a place that suffered during seven summers with low water levels and a perception-worse-than-reality scenario that the lake was dry. J.D. Hamilton, owner of Lee’s Ford Resort and Marina, welcomes with open arms a normal water level. 
“Oh man! It’s time to celebrate! It has been eight long years. There’s no way to describe the feeling. My employees and I ... we smile when we come down the hill. The lake is so beautiful,” gushed a happy Hamilton.
Wolf Creek Dam, built atop a porous limestone base, has had a seepage problem since the gates were closed in December 1950 to impound Lake Cumberland. The dam almost broke in 1968 when two large sinkholes developed near the electrical grid below the dam and muddy water was observed in the tailrace. 
The crisis was temporarily averted by pumping grout (liquid concrete) in the dam and inserting a too-short, not-deep-enough concrete wall in the earthen section. 

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