Possum Kingdom Lake

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Possum Kingdom Lake
LocationPalo Pinto / Stephens / Young counties, Texas
Coordinates32°52.00′N 98°26.00′W / 32.867°N 98.433°W / 32.867; -98.433Coordinates: 32°52.00′N 98°26.00′W / 32.867°N 98.433°W / 32.867; -98.433
Lake typereservoir
Primary inflowsBrazos River
Primary outflowsBrazos River
Basin countriesUnited States
Surface area19,800 acres (8,000 ha)
Max. depth100 Ft.
Water volume724,700 acre·ft (893,900 ML)
Shore length1310 miles (500 km)
Surface elevation998 Ft.
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.
 
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Possum Kingdom Lake
LocationPalo Pinto / Stephens / Young counties, Texas
Coordinates32°52.00′N 98°26.00′W / 32.867°N 98.433°W / 32.867; -98.433Coordinates: 32°52.00′N 98°26.00′W / 32.867°N 98.433°W / 32.867; -98.433
Lake typereservoir
Primary inflowsBrazos River
Primary outflowsBrazos River
Basin countriesUnited States
Surface area19,800 acres (8,000 ha)
Max. depth100 Ft.
Water volume724,700 acre·ft (893,900 ML)
Shore length1310 miles (500 km)
Surface elevation998 Ft.
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

'Possum Kingdom Lake (popularly known as P.K.), is a reservoir on the Brazos River located primarily in Palo Pinto County Texas. It was the first water supply reservoir constructed in the Brazos River basin. The lake has an area of approximately 17,000 acres (69 km2) with 310 miles (500 km) of shoreline. It holds 750,000 acre feet (930,000,000 m3) of water with 550,000 acre feet (680,000,000 m3) available for water supply.[1]

Possum Kingdom Lake, after the devastating wildfires

The lake is impounded by the Morris Sheppard Dam which was a project of the Brazos River Authority and the Works Progress Administration. Construction was begun in 1938 and completed in 1941. The dam is 2,700 feet (820 m) long and 190 feet (58 m) high.[2] The construction is unique with buttressed arched wings on either side of the nine spillway gates rather than the usual filled concrete.[3] It has two 11,250 kilowatt generators which are used during peak demand periods. Morris Sheppard was in 1938 one of Texas’ United States Senators. The dam was named for him in honor of his efforts in obtaining funding for the project.[4]

The lake is located where the Brazos River cuts through the Palo Pinto Hills.[5] The canyon thus formed provided a favorable site for impoundment of the reservoir and accounts for the unusual depth of the lake and the resulting clarity of the water.

The valley of the Brazos at this location was named Possum Kingdom by Ike Sablosky in the first decade of the 20th century. Sablosky was a businessman, a Russian Jewish immigrant who came to America at the age of 13. He arrived in Mineral Wells, Texas from Indianapolis in 1905. Sablosky was suffering from stomach trouble and believed he was dying. Mineral Wells was then nationally famous as a health spa and Sablosky offered an employee of one of the spa hotels ten cents a day for ten days to be allowed to drink all of the mineral water he wanted. The employee accepted and Sablosky claimed that within ten days his stomach problems were cured.

Sablosky then went into the fur and hide business, dealing in, among other things, possum pelts. His best suppliers of these hunted in the canyon of the Brazos and Sablosky began greeting them by saying, “Here are the boys from the Possum Kingdom.” Sablosky went on to be a prominent businessman in Dallas. Before his death he left millions of dollars to charity.[6]

The lake is home to the famous Hell's Gate, a sheer break in the cliffs around the lake. It is mentioned in the popular 1990s song "Possum Kingdom" by The Toadies.[citation needed]

The lake is home to Possum Kingdom State Park, a 1,530 acre state park governed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

The Possum Kingdom Lake area suffered major wildfires in 2011 during a severe drought, first in April and again in August–September with many dwellings lost. (see external link) The first week of August 2012 brought more wildfires to the PK vicinity (between the dam & Graford) which were possibly ignited by lightning strikes amid the extremely drought-ridden countryside. Texas Governor Perry authorized the Texas military forces to assist in battling them. Several Chinook helicopters were assigned to the Palo Pinto county efforts. The fires were brought under control over a period of days & nights.

References

  1. ^ Brazos River Authority accessed online at http://www.brazos.org/pkHome.asp
  2. ^ Brazos River Authority accessed online at http://www.brazos.org/pkHome.asp
  3. ^ Possum Kingdom Reservoir from the Handbook of Texas Online
  4. ^ "History of Morris Sheppard Dam and Possum Kingdom Lake". All Roads Lead to Possum Kingdom lake. Possum Kingdom lake Chamber of Commerce.
  5. ^ David R. Holland, Golf Texas, accessed online at http://www.golftexas.com/holland91.htm
  6. ^ Tolbert of Texas: the man and his work. Frank X. Tolbert and Evelyn Oppenheimer, TCU Press, Fort Worth, 1986. Reprinting an article dated April 20, 1958.

External links