Little Rock District Header Image

LITTLE ROCK DISTRICT

Home
Home > Missions > Recreation > Lakes > Table Rock Lake > Dam and Lake Information

Dam and Lake Information

Table Rock DamTable Rock Dam is located on the White River in Southwestern Missouri eight miles upstream and Southwest of Branson, Missouri. Table Rock Lake extends 79 miles upstream along the White River and inundates areas in Missouri and Arkansas.

Table Rock Dam is 6423 feet long and consists of a concrete section 1602 feet long and two earth embankment sections having a length of 4821 feet. The dam rises 252 feet above the riverbed, contains 1,230,000 cubic yards of concrete and 3,320,000 cubic yards of embankment. Four 18 foot diameter penstocks convey water to four 50,000 kilowatt generating units in the powerhouse. The first two units were ready for generation of power in June 1959, and installation of units three and four was complete in August 1961.

Table Rock Dam’s spillway capacity was evaluated as a result of a dam safety program in the 1990’s. Using improved weather data and more modern technology and safety requirements, engineers determined that the lake would rise ten feet higher during the worst-case flood than previously calculated. An event of this magnitude would overtop the earthen embankment and destroy Table Rock Dam with catastrophic losses in downstream areas including Branson. To prevent the potential loss of life and property damages, congress approved and authorized construction of the Dam Safety Project. After considering several options and gathering considerable public input, an auxiliary spillway was determined to be the best solution. The auxiliary spillway was completed in 2005 at a cost of apx $65,000,000

Table Rock Lake provides a storage capacity of 3,462,000 acre-feet, of which 760,000 are for flood-control and 2,702,000 are for generation of power. The flood control storage is equivalent to a depth of 3.5 inches of water over the entire contributing drainage area above the dam, 4020 square miles. At the top of flood control pool the lake has a surface area of 52,300 acres and a shoreline of 857 miles. The full conservation pool covers an area of 43,100 acres and has a shoreline of 745 miles.

Table Rock Lake is being operated during flood periods in conjunction with other lakes in the basin to prevent damages along the White and lower Mississippi Rivers. Since May 1957 flood reduction in the White River has resulted from the combined effect of the Table Rock, Bull Shoals, and Norfork Lakes, with Beaver Lake effecting regulation since 1964.

Additional Information

Collapse All Expand All

Length of the dam – 6423 feet

Length of the Concrete Section – 1602 feet

Length of the Earth Embankment – 4821 feet

Maximum height of the dam above the streambed – 252 feet

Concrete in the dam – 1,230,000 cubic yards

Earth embankment – 3,320,000 cubic yards

Length of the spillway – 531 gross feet

Spillway crest gates (10) size – 45 ft x 37 ft

Outlet conduits (4) size – 4 ft x 9 ft

Elevations

    Top of the dam – 947 feet above mean sea level

    Spillway crest – 896 feet above mean sea level

Power Development

    Generating Units – 4

    Rated capacity of each unit – 50,000

    Station installed capacity – 200,000

 

Top of the flood control pool – 931 feet above mean sea level

Top of the conservation pool – 915 feet above mean sea level

Surface area of the lake

                Top of flood-control pool – 52,300 acres

                Top of conservation pool – 43,100 acres

Shoreline length

                Top of flood-control pool – 857 miles

                Top of conservation pool – 745 miles

Storage Capacity

                Flood control – 760,000 acre feet

                Power drawdown and dead – 2,702,000 acre feet

                Lake total – 3,462,000 acre feet

 

View of Table Rock Dam under construction 1955In October 1954, construction of Table Rock Dam, at Branson, Missouri, was begun. Beaver Dam had been authorized a month earlier under the Flood Control Act of September 3, 1943. As with other Corps projects, these dams had a long history of proposals, refusals, counter-proposals, delays, despair, investigations, and political involvements. The Table Rock site had been under consideration for a hydroelectric power dam as far back as 1901, when the town of Hollister, Missouri, had surveyed the site for that purpose. When the Corps of Engineers entered the picture in 1928-31 in the midst of an economic depression, it made a negative decision for construction of a dam. The Corps of Engineers did report that the site was well suited for a hydroelectric dam, but added that existing economic conditions did not warrant Federal expenditures or participation.

On the eve of the economic depression of 1929, the Empire District Electric Company, a subsidiary of Cities Service, had purchased a site in the vicinity of the Table Rock site with intentions to construct a small hydroelectric power facility. The depression deferred their immediate ambitions, leaving only the hope of Federal participation for the local communities. The involved communities were well represented by civic minded leaders who were eager to devote their time labor and expenses in promoting such a project.

Unlike the Mountain Home, Arkansas area to the southeast, the Branson area was not one of chronic economic depression. The area was already recognized for its fishing; and during normal times, the community had a rather stable and moderately secure economy based on fishing and recreation, reinforced by agriculture. Lake Taneycomo had been created shortly after World War I as a result of impounded waters restrained by a privately developed power dam (Powersite), and Rockaway Beach was probably the first resort to be built in the State of Missouri. The area was hard hit by the depression, but the economy began to recover its former vitality as the Nation struggled out of its economic disaster.

View of Table Rock Dam under construction 1956If the area did not have an absolute need for a dam to assure economic prosperity, there was no question about the need for a dam to protect property in the downstream reaches from the ravages of the White River. Local citizens have etched memories of bridges being washed out, farms being washed away, houses floating down the turbulent waters, trains being shunted aside, and mud hip-deep in the middle of town. As a result of the recurring disasters the citizens of the river communities were primarily interested in a dam for flood control purposes, with hydroelectric power and recreation as attractive secondary considerations. An unusually disastrous flood in 1935 and President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to create employment through public works caused Congress to authorize a further study. This time the Corps of Engineers concluded in their report that Table Rock Dam should be built, and the dam was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1941, for “flood control and hydroelectric power, and other beneficial water uses.”

As though to emphasize the need of the dam for flood control, the rains of 1957 brought on flooding conditions while the dam was yet under construction. Some of the monoliths near the center of the dam were still being poured when rising flood waters to the back of the incomplete dam crested over these incomplete monoliths to cascade downstream into the old river bed. Though the waters were sufficiently contained to prevent downstream flooding, the unexpected quick rise in the reservoir surprised property owners who were still in the process of moving their houses and property out of the reservoir area. The towns across from Branson were saved from considerable damage. The flood delayed construction for a short period, but the project was completed in August of 1958 and power production was online in June of 1959. Two additional generating units were completed in April and August of 1961, overall construction was concluded at a cost of approximately $65,420,000.

Table Rock Dam’s spillway capacity was evaluated as a result of a dam safety program in the 1990’s. Using improved weather data and more modern technology and safety requirements, engineers determined that the lake would rise ten feet higher during the worst-case flood than previously calculated. An event of this magnitude would overtop the earthen embankment and destroy Table Rock Dam with catastrophic losses in downstream areas including Branson. To prevent the potential loss of life and property damages, congress approved and authorized construction of the Dam Safety Project. After considering several options and gathering considerable public input, an auxiliary spillway was determined to be the best solution. The auxiliary spillway was completed in 2005 at a cost of apx $65,000,000.