Coffey County, in which John Redmond Dam and Reservoir is located, shares the memorable past of a state over which the flags of France and Spain once flew; of great pioneer trails, earth-lodge Indian villages, sod houses, and of turbulent times in our nation's history. Now, in her second century, present-day Kansas is a leader in agriculture, livestock, and mineral resources, a land of modern highways and abundant water, and a growing contender in industry and science. Coffey County ranks high among Kansas counties in wheat, corn, and many crops which indicate a prosperous diversified agriculture. The county is the home of Kansas' only nuclear plant, Wolf Creek, which became operational in 1985.
The John Redmond project was authorized as "Strawn Dam." The town of Strawn was relocated six miles eastward on higher ground when the dam was constructed. The old townsite is now underwater.
In 1958, congress renamed it John Redmond Dam and Reservoir for the Burlington Daily Republican's publisher, John Redmond. One of the first to champion the causes of flood control and water conservation along the Neosho River, Mr. Redmond's work along these lines continued from the early 1920s until his death in 1953 at the age of 79. His dream of controlling floods in the upper Neosho had started to become a reality with the authorization of the four dams in 1950.
The fertile Neosho Valley was flooded 57 times in 34 years, with the worst flood coming in 1951, one year after congress authorized the project. Floodwaters ran 30 feet deep at the damsite and one-third million acres were underwater.
John Redmond Dam was pressed into flood control operation several weeks before final completion, protecting the Neosho River Valley for the first time from the damaging floods.