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The 50th Anniversary of Smith Mountain Lake


Celebrating 50 Years of Smith Mountain Lake

The idea for damming the Roanoke River at the natural gap of Smith Mountain in Southwestern Virginia had been promoted for a number of years before the Smith Mountain Pump Storage Hydroelectric Project became reality. Originally proposed seriously in the 1920s, it was another 40 years before Appalachian Power completed the two dams which make up the unique project. Construction on the Smith Mountain and Leesville dams began in 1960 and was completed in 1963. Hundreds of workers cleared several hundred thousand cubic yards of mountainside and poured about 175,000 cubic yards of concrete to build the project.

The lakes reached their normal "full" water level in 1966. The areas covered by the reservoir were primarily rural farmland. During dam construction Appalachian Power also built several bridges to accommodate traffic around the lake. The project paid for itself within 5 years time.

Combined, Smith Mountain Lake covers 20,600 acres with over 580 miles of shoreline and Leesville Lake covers 3,270 acres with 110 miles of shoreline. Nearly 12,000 people live at Smith Mountain Lake year-round, with another 50,000 present on summer weekends. 

For more SML History CLICK HERE

SML web links for more information:

Dr. Fong Interview -

50th Anniversary Slide Show -


MUSIC - 50th Anniversary Song

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