John W. Flannagan Reservoir, Virginia, USA

Lake Locations:

USA - South - Virginia - Heart of Appalachia -

Also known as:  Flannagan Reservoir

The John W. Flannagan Reservoir is a 1,145-acre lake located in Dickenson County in the southwest Heart of Appalachia region of Virginia. Named in honor of the ninth Virginia District Congressman, John Williams Flannagan, Jr., the John W. Flannagan dam and spillway were completed in 1964 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and provide flood protection and drinking water for areas downstream of Pound River and Big Sandy River. The lake surface is kept at an elevation of 1,396 feet above sea level for recreation during the summer. In the fall, the lake is lowered 16 feet in anticipation of winter and spring runoff. When the dam releases its water, some of the most challenging rapids in the eastern U.S. are created.

Built primarily for flood control, the John W. Flannagan Reservoir is well known for its fishing. The deep cool water is well stocked with variety of sport fish species including: largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, hybrid striped bass, walleye, channel catfish, flathead catfish, crappie, bluegill, rock bass, carp and musky. With 50 miles of beautiful wooded and rocky shoreline, you can cast your line from land or take a boat out on the lake. There are several boat ramps around the lake that will give you easy access to the water. The John W. Flannagan Boat Dock is located at the Junction Area of the lake and provides boaters with docking facilities, a gas station, fishing supplies, and a snack bar.

For outdoor enthusiast, John W. Flannagan Reservoir has a number of campgrounds operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Most campgrounds have electrical hookups, shower facilities, and bathrooms. Picnic areas are available on a first come – first served basis except when reserved in advance. There are no developed swimming areas on the lake, but swimming is allowed anywhere in the lake at your own risk unless otherwise posted. For those who would like a little more safety, Dickenson County offers a pool with lifeguard at Bearpen, which is located just outside the Town of Clintwood. Ball fields, tennis courts, and a horse show ring can also be found at some of the campgrounds. The John W. Flannagan visitor center is located at the project office and has a variety of mounted animal and bird species. Rangers are on hand to talk to visitors.

During the first four full weekends in October, the John W. Flannagan Reservoir dam opens its gates to lower the level of the lake. The sudden release of water causes the Russell Fork River to swell quickly and creates challenging Class III to Class V + rapids for rafting and kayaking. The white water draws enthusiasts from all over the world and is a favorite time for visitors to Breaks Interstate Park who can ride the intense rapids through the canyons in the park.

Dickenson County is located in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains and has some breathtaking scenery. Located north of John W. Flannagan Reservoir, the Breaks Interstate Park, is a 4,500 acre recreational and scenic woodland park. The park is one of two interstate parks in the U.S. that sits on both sides of the state line shared by Kentucky and Virginia. The east and west sides of the park are separated by a 1,600 foot deep, 5 mile long canyon that is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the South.” For visitors to the area, the park offers hiking, bike and driving trails, picnic and recreation areas, a lake with pedal boats, a swimming pool, horseback riding and an amphitheater. Cabin and vacation rentals are available for extended visits along with a large campground.

More than 83 percent of the land surrounding John W. Flannagan Reservoir is wooded and offers some of the best hunting in Virginia. Hunters will find large numbers of turkey, quail, grouse, rabbit, squirrel, and deer.

For hikers and equestrians visiting John W. Flannagan Reservoir, the Cumberland and Pine Mountain Riding and Hiking Trail spans 28 miles from the Breaks Interstate Park to Pound Gap near Pound, Virginia. From this trail, you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of mountain tops from Virginia and Kentucky.

For those who find shopping and sightseeing more appealing, the towns of Birchleaf, Breaks, Clinchco, Clintwood, Haysi and Kingsport are a short drive from John W. Flannagan Reservoir. Shops, galleries, museums, restaurants and historic buldings line the streets of these country towns. As part of the Virginia Coal Heritage Trail, Dickenson County hosts several museums featuring coal mining and railroad memorabilia. The Ralph Stanley Museum and Traditional Mountain Music Center in Clintwood features the life and music of the legendary music performer recognized as a pioneer in traditional Appalachian old-time music.

If you enjoy beautiful mountains, cool clean water, and a country setting, then plan a visit to John W. Flannagan Reservoir in Dickenson County. White water rafting and canoeing, fishing, camping, horseback riding, hiking and biking are only some of the festivities awaiting you.

Things to do at John W. Flannagan Reservoir

  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Swimming Pool
  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Whitewater Rafting
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Picnicking
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Hunting
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Birding
  • Museum
  • Shopping

Fish species found at John W. Flannagan Reservoir

  • Bass
  • Black Bass
  • Bluegill
  • Carp
  • Catfish
  • Channel Catfish
  • Crappie
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Largemouth Bass
  • Perch
  • Smallmouth Bass
  • Striped Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Walleye

John W. Flannagan Reservoir Photo Gallery

John W. Flannagan Reservoir Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Artificial Reservoir, Dammed

Water Level Control: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Surface Area: 1,145 acres

Shoreline Length: 50 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 1,396 feet

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 1,380 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 1,396 feet

Average Depth: 58 feet

Maximum Depth: 166 feet

Completion Year: 1964

Drainage Area: 221 sq. miles

Trophic State: Oligotrophic

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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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