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Rough River History

Established on August 18, 1961

In 1938 Congress approved an act that authorized the building of a dam on Rough River to help control flooding in the Ohio River Valley. Construction of the dam did not begin until November 1955. The reservoir formed by Rough River Dam is located in Breckinridge, Grayson, and Hardin Counties. The dam is 135 feet high, 1,500 feet long and 819 feet wide at the base. Rough River Lake covers 5,000 acres, with a shoreline of 221 miles. The park has 372 acres of beautiful Kentucky scenery.

The Kentucky Department of Parks approved the acceptance of the Rough River property on January 18, 1961. However, the state did not officially make Rough River a part of the parks system until August 18, 1961. In 1962 the Kentucky Department of Parks leased 637 acres and built the Rough River Dam State Resort Park.

After the state accepted the Rough River site as a state park, the architectural firm of Sweet and Judd of Louisville drew plans for the facility. A lodge and fifteen two-room cottages gave guests ample room to stay and enjoy the new park. A marina with 165 open boat slips, 30 houseboat slips, and 48 covered slips, gives both pleasure boaters and anglers ample space. Fishing in Rough River Lake includes bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie, rough fish, and walleye.

One of the most popular summer resort sites in the South was located at Grayson Springs, five miles from the town of Leitchfield. The waters of the white sulfur springs drew hundreds of guests to the area. A three-storied hotel accommodated the many guests who came to “take the waters.” The historic old structure burned in 1907, ending the history of one of Kentucky’s most visited health spas of the nineteenth century.

The park has a paved airstrip that makes it a very convenient landing place for private planes. By November 1, 1962, a lodge with 24 rooms had been completed. In 1965 through the sale of revenue bonds, the Kentucky Parks Department financed a number of improvements to the parks system. Rough River’s allotment consisted of nearly $400,000. An additional 16 rooms were added to the lodge along with other improvements. The parks system also added an additional 30 acres to the Rough River site. Rough River continued to grow throughout the 1960s. Monetary investment in the park amounted to over two million dollars. The park is open year round.

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