top of page


of Lake McConaughy

According to, Lake McConaughy is not only Nebraska's largest recreational lake, but it stands as a symbol of achievement. Like many things in life, this lake's story began with the simple need for irrigation in Nebraska. Due to the unreliability and unpredictability of Nebraska weather, it often brought drought and rainfall in cycles, so farmers began discovering ways of providing rainfall during dry times.

Throughout the 1890's irrigation ditches began being built to take advantage of the Platte River. Charles McConaughy, a Holdree grain merchant, envisioned a way to use spring fluddin as irrigation for farm fields. In 1913 the Tri-County Supplemental Water Association was founded and named McConaughy as president and Geore Kingsley was named vice president to the organization. Organization leaders took to Washington D.C. where they proposed the idea to irrigate the Platte River. The group was awarded $10,000 to survey the Platte Valley after meeting with the Secretary of State, Franklin Lane. Sadly, in 1929, McConaughy died never seeing the fruit of his labor, and throuhout his time in the organization, they delt with many political battles for about twenty years.

A diversion dam was built near Keystone, Nebraska in 1935. The Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District were created by the state as the U.S. headed into the Great Depression and a major drought. This organization took McConaughy's idea of irrigation canals and created the idea of a massive reservoir and dam that would hold water used in irrigation. The location of the dam was chosen to be west of Keystone because of Brule Clay in the area. The project would consist of a dam sprawling 3 miles long and a reservoir that would measure 22 miles long and 3 miles wide in some areas. This would be Nebrask'as largest construction project, which was awarded 20 million dollars from Roosevelt's PWA. To continue learning more about this beautiful man-made lake, visit or

bottom of page