R. D. Bailey Lake is located on the Guyandotte River near Justice, on the Wyoming-Mingo county line. Named in honor of the late Judge R. D. Bailey, the lake provides flood protection for the lower Guyandotte River basin, including the city of Huntington. The dam was the first rock-fill dam developed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with a concrete face, a complex and difficult job. The 310-foot-high dam is the second-highest in West Virginia (Summersville Dam is highest at 390 feet), and measures 1,400 feet across. The intake structure, a 310-foot concrete tower, has gates at four intervals. Water can normally be released from any of the four levels to control water temperature and water quality downstream.
Construction was begun in June 1967, but floods and contractual difficulties caused delays. The entire project cost $180 million and was finally completed in 1980. R. D. Bailey Lake catches runoff from a 540-square-mile drainage area. Under maximum storage conditions, the seven-mile lake would extend to 22 miles and impound more than 66 billion gallons of water. The Corps of Engineers acquired 19,000 acres of land in conjunction with the development of the dam and lake, which is leased to the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources as a wildlife management area. Recreational facilities include a boat launching area and marina, picnic facilities, overlooks, and a camping area at the upper end of the lake. Clinging to the edge of a former strip-mine bench, 300 feet above the dam, the visitors’ center includes exhibits relating to the historical, geological, and engineering aspects of the lake.
This Article was written by Robert Beanblossom
Last Revised on October 22, 2010
Tidman, Ginevra. R. D. Bailey Lake Dedicated August 10. Wonderful West Virginia, Oct. 1980.