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Clearwater Lake is celebrating its 70th anniversary. Clearwater Lake was completed in the fall of 1948 and offers many recreational activities for hobbyists who enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking, sightseeing and hunting.
Clearwater was one of four dam and reservoir projects approved by Congress via the Flood Control Act of 1938. While construction of Clearwater was underway, the Corps was also simultaneously working on construction of the Blue Mountain, Nimrod, and Norfork dams. However, in 1942 the war effort took its toll on the projects.
Only Norfork and Nimrod were completed during the war due to their categorization as a power source for future defense projects. As a result, both Blue Mountain and Clearwater were tabled until after the war. Construction on Clearwater was reinitiated in 1946 and completed in September 1948.
The Clearwater dam is an amazing structure. For 69 years Clearwater has been able to successfully provide flood risk management on the Black River through normal operations. During the floods of 2017, water flowed over the auxiliary spillway for the first time. If the water gets past a certain threshold in the lake the water releases over the spillway which acts as an overflow valve. This is important because if the water has no place to go, it can create excessive pressure which could compromise the structure of the dam.
Today, Clearwater offers many benefits for nature and recreational enthusiasts. When speaking to Randy Devenport the Chief of Lakes and Rivers, he fondly refers to Clearwater as, “The hidden jewel of the Ozarks.” It is nestled between the boot heel of Missouri and Saint Louis and offers a quiet and peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. As the Operations Project Manager Fred Esser puts it, “It’s a great place to disengage with technology and engage with nature.”
For those who enjoy boating, Clearwater is unique from other lakes in that it does not have private boat docks. This means that boaters can come ashore almost anywhere on the lake, creating a wilderness like quality. Three marinas offer bait, fuel, equipment rentals, and general merchandise such as ice and snacks.
Whether you are a beginner, or an experienced sportsman Clearwater offers a host of plentiful fishing opportunities such as river and lake fishing, and paddle fish snagging something that is not readily available in a lot of areas in Missouri. The lake is full of a variety of fish that include bass, crappie, walleye, and catfish. Numerous fish shelters have been placed in the lake and maps are readily available.
If you prefer camping, Clearwater hosts a bevy of resources to choose from. Throughout the five campgrounds there are numerous facilities including grills, fireplaces, tables, group shelters, showers and water wells.
For those who love to hike, Clearwater offers numerous trails in which you can spot wildlife such as elk, bear, and mountain lions. Clearwater’s trails are known for its natural springs and general outdoor beauty.
For 70 years Clearwater has been a sanctuary for those wanting to get away from it all. It has been a hidden gem for years, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that it is around for many generations to enjoy in the years to come.