Hartwell Dam & Lake


Hartwell Lake is one of the southeast's largest and most popular public recreation lakes. Built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1955 and 1963 as part of a flood control, hydropower, and navigation project, 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 Hartwell one of the most visited Corps lakes in the nation

Hartwell Lake is a man-made lake bordering Georgia and South Carolina on the Savannah, Tugaloo, and Seneca Rivers. The lake is created by Hartwell Dam located on the Savannah River seven miles below the point at which the Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers join to form the Savannah. Extending 49 miles up the Tugaloo and 45 miles up the Seneca at normal pool elevation, Hartwell Lake comprises nearly 56,000 acres of water with a shoreline of 962 miles. The entire Hartwell “Project” contains 76,450 acres of land and water. Interstate 85 bisects Hartwell Lake and makes the area easily accessible to visitors.

Hartwell Lake and Dam is the second Corps of Engineers project to be built in the Savannah River Basin. The first, J. Strom Thurmond Lake and Dam, was completed in 1952. A third project, Richard B. Russell Lake and Dam was completed in 1985. Congress authorized Hartwell in 1950 and construction began in October 1955. The project was completed in 1963 at a cost of more than $89 million.

Did You Know?

  • The Hartwell "Project" was originally authorized for three purposes: hydropower, flood control, and navigation. Later, recreation, water quality, water supply, and fish and wildlife management were added.
  • Construction of the Hartwell Project took place from 1955 – 1963.
  • Construction of the dam began in 1955 and was completed in 1959.
  • Impoundment of the lake began in February 1961. The lake reached its full pool elevation of 660 feet on March 12, 1962.
  • The powerplant was completed in 1961; the first generator went on-line at on April 27, 1962.
  • The Hartwell Powerplant is a "peaking powerplant" - this means that power is not constantly generated. Instead, power is generated at times when electricity is in the greatest demand.
  • Hartwell Lake contains 55,900 acres of water and has 962 miles of shoreline. 23,563 acres of public land surrounds the lake.
  • The lake is located in two states (Georgia and South Carolina) and 6 counties (Georgia – Hart, Franklin, and Stephens Counties; South Carolina – Anderson, Oconee, and Pickens Counties).
  • Hartwell Dam is built of more than 880,000 cubic yards of concrete (enough to build a sidewalk from the dam to San Francisco) and more than 3 million pounds of reinforcing steel.
  • The depth of the lake behind the dam is approximately 180 feet.
  • The top of the dam is 204 feet above the Savannah River Bed.
  • The Hartwell Dam and Lake has prevented over $101,998 million in flood damages since 1962.
  • Floodgates at the Hartwell Dam have been opened for flood control purposes three times - in 1964, 1965, and 1994. They have been opened at other times for maintenance and inspection purposes.
  • The average yearly generation from the Hartwell Powerplant is approximately 470,000 - megawatt hours. Megawatt hours produced in 2008 were 217,423. The 2008 total is below average because of reductions in generation due to drought conditions in the Savannah River Basin in 2008.
  • The three Corps managed lakes on the Savannah River - Hartwell, Richard B. Russell, and J. Strom Thurmond - are responsible for maintaining water supply and water quality needs of the Savannah River from below Thurmond Dam all the way to Savannah, Georgia and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • The Savannah River forms at the confluence of the Tugaloo and Seneca Rivers, 7.1 miles above the Hartwell Dam.
  • The Savannah River begins 7.1 miles above the Hartwell Dam and is approximately 315 miles long. The river ends in the Atlantic Ocean near Savannah, Georgia.
  • The lowest lake level on Hartwell Lake is 637.49 ft. msl reached on December 9, 2008.  The previous record low at Hartwell Lake was 642.4 ft. msl, reached on December 24, 1981.
  • The highest lake elevation reached was 665.4 ft. msl reached on April 8, 1964.
  • The average lake elevation is 657.5 ft. msl.