1930 Lake Waco Dam


This photo of the 1930 Lake Waco Dam was taken from the “airport” side of the lake, looking toward the Waco side. The building at the end of the road is The Brass Rail, and us at the four of the hill of Green Leaf Peninsula. People who remember driving across this bridge/dam recall how noisy it was.

This photo is from Google Images, and we have no information about the date or photographer. If you do, please post it in the comments.

The Construction of the 1930 Lake Waco Dam

The City of Waco formed the Waco Water Commission in 1912. On September 14,1926, a $3,500,000 bond election was passed to finance the building of a dam on the Bosque River. After some concerned citizens complained about the cost of the new dam, it was decided to build a smaller dam, resulting in a smaller lake for around $ 2,500,000. The Waco Water Commission, under the direction of Cecil C. Shear, Chairman, hired the engineering firm of Floyd and Lochridge as Chief Engineer, and W.E. Callahan Construction Company as the General Contractor. George W. Goethals, famous for building the Panama Canal, was hired to come to Waco to review the plans. He was impressed with the plans, and gave his approval. The cost was estimated at $2,000,000, and the estimated completion date was July of 1930.

Workmen began clearing land for the dam in December of 1928. Construction on the dam began on January 2, 1929, with T.C. Shuler serving as Resident Engineer. Over 25,000 cords of wood resulted from the clearing of 2,800 acres. Soon came the construction of a concrete plant, woodmill, camp houses and a dining hall large enough for 100 workers.

Crews worked day and night, and the Lake Waco Dam was completed in April 1930, storing over 130,000 acre feet of water, and securing 39,000 acre feet of water annually. This dam served the City of Waco until a new dam was built beginning July 5, 1958. The new dam was dedicated in 1965.

Sources: WCCC-TV’s “Water: A Resource for Life-The History of Waco’s Water” (Mark Randolph, Editor) and historical newspaper articles.

The Old Waco Dam, built in 1930. Photographer unknown. From The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

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