Beaverdam Reservoir, Pennsylvania, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - Mid-Atlantic - Pennsylvania - Allegheny Mountains & Valleys -

Also known as:  Beaverdam Run Reservoir

Tucked away in rural Cambria County, in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains and Valleys region, Beaverdam Reservoir provides a welcome natural respite from busy urban life. Sometimes called Beaverdam Run Reservoir, this water supply impoundment offers quiet fishing and scenic days on the water. The silence stems from the fact that no gasoline motors are allowed on the reservoir, while a lack of campgrounds, beaches or shoreline development limits the number of visitors. Indeed, it is only in the last 20 years that there has been public access to the waters. The increasingly productive fishery is just now beginning to be recognized.

The 382-acre reservoir was created when the Beaverdam Run Creek was dammed in 1974 for water supply. For the first 25 years the owner, Highland Water & Sewer Company, kept the entire reservoir and surrounding portions of the watershed completely private to protect water quality. As Highland Water & Sewer Co. provides well over four million gallons of water every day to homes and businesses in the area, they felt that they needed to stick to their main business of providing a safe, clean water supply instead of providing public access and use. It wasn’t until 1999 that a grassroots group of locals presented a proposal to Highland’s management, offering to care for and maintain the watershed if Highlands would open some access to the lake. When Highlands management expressed interest, the group formed the Beaverdam Conservation Group and worked with Pennsylvania Game Commission to develop access under their regulatory umbrella, treating the surrounding watershed as public lands in the same manner as the neighboring State Game Area lands. A boat launch and parking area were developed on the southeastern corner of the reservoir, and rules controlling fishing and boating access were instituted. Beaverdam Reservoir was then opened to public use in 2000.

In an area of Pennsylvania with few natural lakes, lake fishing is almost a novelty. The Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission and state Game Commission patrol the area and assure adherence to rules meant to protect the water supply. In addition to the no gasoline motors rule, no sailboats or sailboards are permitted and no swimming allowed. No ice fishing is permitted in winter, and no camping or campfires are permitted. Fishing from shore is allowed but not permitted along the breastworks of the dam. Two restricted areas along the shore are off-limits to shoreline fishing. The now-public lands surrounding the reservoir are closed to dirt bikes and other motorized traffic, although cross-country skiing is permitted in winter. Numerous visitors arrive regularly to enjoy hiking, nature photography and birding. None of these amenities are of any cost to Highland’s rate payers.

Because the waters of Beaverdam Run and nearby streams are naturally quite acidic, the reservoir wasn’t originally very productive of aquatic vegetation and thus not optimal for fish breeding. Fishing groups in conjunction with Pennsylvania Fish & Game applied lime in certain areas to stimulate more aquatic cover for fish breeding and refuge. The lake is now noted for largemouth bass, trout, rock bass and bluegill, with northern pike, perch and crappies gaining a foothold. Efforts to stock lake trout haven’t shown long-term success and are likely to be suspended. Careful monitoring will assure the fishery is kept in excellent condition for the enjoyment of all comers.

This scenic area of Cambria County is quite rural. A wind farm owned by Everpower operates Highland North Wind Farm, with a number of wind turbines near the north shoreline of Beaverdam Reservoir. The landscape is steep and mountainous, with valleys dotted by small two-story homes clinging to the sides of the slopes. This is historically coal country, only about 20 miles east of Johnstown. It is the perfect place to spend a week or so escaping from the city and enjoying nature at its most spectacular. Adjoining the public areas on the east side of Beaverdam Reservoir, several hundred acres of State Game Lands #26 allow for an uninterrupted area for hiking, cross-country skiing, nature observance, and hunting in season. Gallitzin State Forest continues the swathe of public land to the southwest, while Blue Knob State Park adjoins the Game Lands on the east side.

Blue Knob State Park is well-supplied with trails for hiking, mountain bike riding, horseback riding, and snowmobiling. Several camping areas host RVs and tents. Camping cabins and picnic shelters dot the park, and a swimming pool provides safe swimming to park visitors. The area around the park is relatively busy in winter as a well-known winter ski resort is located near here. Not far away a public ultralight airport offers facilities for the adventurous airborne to see the area from above. Blue Knob is located in Bedford County, itself a scenic destination. The covered bridge driving tour attracts many visitors each year, particularly in the fall when the leaves turn to awe-inspiring shades of gold, red and brown.

Although there are no lodgings on Beaverdam Reservoir, small inns and guest cottages dot the roads near the several small villages. Johnstown, Altoona and Bedford hold commercial hotels along the highways and more rustic Mom & Pop motels along the edges of town. Pennsylvania cooking is on display in the many small neighborhood cafes. Johnstown is the site of a couple of must-see locations such as the Heritage Discovery Center with exhibits highlighting the lives of the immigrants who arrived here near the end of the 19th century to work in the coal mines. The Johnstown Flood Museum is also an interesting history lesson, and the Johnstown Inclined Plane is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as you are transported over 800 feet up the mountain to view the city below.

The Beaverdam Reservoir area is a perfect focal point for a southern Pennsylvania vacation. Come and enjoy the solitude, the history and the good, old-fashioned cooking. The fish are biting!

Things to do at Beaverdam Reservoir

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Ice Fishing
  • Boating
  • Sailing
  • Swimming Pool
  • Beach
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Cross-Country Skiing
  • Snowmobiling
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Birding
  • State Park
  • State Forest
  • Museum

Fish species found at Beaverdam Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Crappie
  • Lake Trout
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Northern Pike
  • Perch
  • Pike
  • Sunfish
  • Trout

Beaverdam Reservoir Photo Gallery

Beaverdam Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: Highland Water & Sewer Co.

Surface Area: 382 acres

Shoreline Length: 6 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 2,367 feet

Average Depth: 20 feet

Maximum Depth: 46 feet

Water Volume: 7,672 acre-feet

Completion Year: 1974

Drainage Area: 7 sq. miles

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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