Council Grove Lake was built by the Tulsa District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1960 and 1964 at a cost of $11.5 million. It was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1950, and construction was prompted by the devastating flood of 1951.
The lake was built for the purposes of flood damage reduction, water storage, water quality enhancement, fish and wildlife conservation and recreation. To date, the lake is credited with preventing an estimated $175 million in flood damages.
The lake derives its name from the nearby community of Council Grove, Kansas. As early as the 1820s, the place where Council Grove stands was mentioned by travelers. It is said that mountain man Kit Carson cut the name “Council Grove” on a buffalo hide and nailed it to a huge oak tree. Under that tree in 1825, a treaty was signed with the Osage Indians to establish the Santa Fe Trail. The huge oak became known as the Council Oak, and is now a National Register Historic Site.
In fact, the National Historic District of Council Grove features more than 24 sites detailing Native American history, the Santa Fe Trail, and the early settlement of the community. More information can be found at www.councilgrove.com.
The lake is near the headwaters of the Neosho River. “Neosho” is an Osage Indian word meaning “water within.” The names of many of our campgrounds such as Neosho Park, Kanza View, Kit Carson and Custer Campgrounds reflect the early history of the area.