History of Toronto Lake


The town of Toronto, located in the scenic Verdigris River Valley was founded with the migration of farmer settlers from Canada. These Canadians settled in the area of present day Toronto and named the community after Toronto, Canada.

The town of Toronto was laid out in 1869 by the Toronto Town Company which was composed of local community leaders. The first building, the district school, was already in existence at the time the town was established. Located on the west side of the town, it was soon moved to the town square and enlarged.

The only granite in the state of Kansas was discovered about four miles east of Toronto. As a result of this find, a community known as Silver City, no longer in existence, was the center of a short-lived gold rush in 1887. Several deep holes still mark the area as a reminder of this early day activity. The granite deposit is some six miles long extending from a dome at Rose, Kansas, to the old Silver City site. The only quartzite to be found in Kansas is also located in this area.

Another significant discovery is a prehistoric cave located about 12 miles north of Toronto. Its mouth is about 50 feet wide and 10 feet high and extends back about 20 feet. The cave, containing pictorial writings, was discovered in 1858. Numerous artifacts from the Toronto area are now on display at the Kansas State Historical Society Memorial Building in Topeka.


Toronto Lake was authorized by congress in August 1941 for flood control purposes. The project is one unit of a six-lake system in the Verdigris River Basin. The five other lakes include the Fall River project on Fall River which was completed in 1949, the authorized Neodesha Lake on the Verdigris River, and Elk City Lake on the Elk River, completed in 1966, all in Kansas. Hulah Lake on the Caney River, completed in 1951, and Oologah Lake on the Verdigris River, completed in 1963, are located in Oklahoma. Construction began at Toronto Lake in November 1954, and the project was placed in full operation for flood control in March 1960 at a cost of $13,900,000.