Lake Strom Thurmond (South Carolina name),
Clarks Hill Lake (Georgia name)
|Location||McCormick County, SC & Lincoln County, GA & Columbia County, GA|
|Primary inflows||Savannah River|
|Primary outflows||Savannah River|
|Basin countries||United States|
|Surface area||71,100 acres (288 km2)|
|Surface elevation||330 ft (100 m)|
Lake Strom Thurmond, known in Georgia as Clarks Hill Lake, is a reservoir at the border between Georgia and South Carolina in the Savannah River Basin. It was created by the J. Strom Thurmond Dam between 1951 and 1952 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers near the confluence of the "Little River" and the Savannah River. At 71,000 acres (287 km²), it is the second-largest artificial lake east of the Mississippi River, behind the Kentucky Lake on the Tennessee River. The J. Strom Thurmond Dam is located upstream from Augusta, Georgia.
The Thurmond Lake and Dam is one of the southeast's largest and most popular public recreation lakes. The dam Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1946 and 1954 but the lake was filled between 1951 and 1952 as part of a flood control, hydropower, and navigation project. Its legally authorized purposes now include recreation, water quality, water supply, and fish and wildlife management. Each year, millions of people utilize the many public parks, marinas, and campgrounds conveniently located around the lake to pursue a variety of outdoor recreational experiences -making Thurmond one of the 10 most visited Corps lakes in the nation.
Thurmond Lake is a man-made lake bordering Georgia and South Carolina on the Savannah, Broad, and Little Rivers. The lake is created by the J. Strom Thurmond Dam located on the Savannah River twenty-two miles above Augusta Georgia and 239.5 miles (385.4 km) above the mouth of the Savannah River. The lake extends 39.4 miles (63.4 km) up the Savannah River, 29 miles (47 km) up the Little River in Georgia, and 6.5 miles (10.5 km) up the Broad River in Georgia, and 17 miles (27 km) up the Little River in South Carolina, at normal pool elevation of 330 mean sea level, Thurmond Lake comprises nearly 71,100 acres (287 km²) of water with a shoreline of 1,200 miles (1,900 km). The entire Thurmond “Project” contains 151,000 acres (611 km²) of land and water.
J. Strom Thurmond Lake and Dam is the first Corps of Engineers project to be built in the Savannah River Basin. Hartwell Lake and Dam the second project built in the basin was completed in 1963, and a third project, Richard B. Russell Lake and Dam was completed in 1985. Together these three lakes form a chain of lakes that is 120 miles (190 km) long. Congress authorized Thurmond Lake in 1944 and construction began in 1946. The project was completed in 1954 at a cost of $79 million.
Originally the project was to be called “Clarks Hill Dam”. The “s” at the end of “Clarks” was omitted due to a clerical error in the original Congressional Authorization, and the project became “Clark Hill Dam”. The authorization document outlined the plan of development for the basin with authorized purposes of power production, incidental flood control, and navigation. Later, recreation, water quality, water supply, and fish & wildlife management were added as authorized purposes. After that the dam was renamed “Clarks Hill Dam”.
The 1966 Flood Control Act authorized the building of Trotters Shoals Lake and Dam on the Savannah River between Clarks Hill Lake and Hartwell Lake. This lake was later renamed to commemorate a late senator from Georgia, Richard B. Russell who was very important in supporting the building of dams on the river. This created a movement to rename Clarks Hill Lake after J. Strom Thurmond, the longest serving senator in US history who was from Edgefield on the South Carolina side of the lake. This movement gained support due to the senator's great popularity in the area, and in 1988 the project was congressionally renamed “J. Strom Thurmond Dam and Lake at Clarks Hill”
Until 1988, the lake was called Clarks Hill Lake, after the nearby South Carolina town of Clarks Hill, and the Revolutionary War hero Elijah Clarke, whose burial place, on the grounds of Georgia's Elijah Clark State Park, is on the western shore of the lake. In 1987, however, Representative Butler Derrick of South Carolina introduced a bill before Congress to rename the lake after Strom Thurmond, the long-time Senator from South Carolina.
The bill passed through Congress and local Georgia residents were quite angry the next year when they discovered that the lake had been renamed after a politician from another state. In response, a group of Georgia legislators, led by Representative Doug Barnard, Jr. (who was, ironically, the only Georgia co-sponsor of the original 1987 bill) introduced a bill to rename the lake as "Clarks Hill" once again. That bill, however, was unsuccessful, and the name remained unchanged. Following the name change by the Federal government, on April 4, 1989 the State of Georgia legislature passed House Resolution No. 115 making "Clarks Hill" the official state name for both the dam and associated reservoir.  Accordingly, Georgia's map still refers to the lake as Clarks Hill.
To this day, many residents of Georgia, including most of those who live nearby, refer to the lake by its original name. Another noteworthy point is that man-made Lake Russell, the lake north of Clarke Hill along the Savannah River, was named after Richard B. Russell, Jr., Georgia's noted U.S. Senator and former governor, in the same 1987 bill.