Lake Texoma

By: Seth D. Breeding

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: March 1, 1995

Lake Texoma is on the Red River between Texas and Oklahoma in Grayson and Cooke counties, Texas, and Marshall, Johnson, Bryan, and Love counties, Oklahoma (its center point is 33°49' N, 96°34' W). It spreads over 89,000 acres and is protected by Denison Dam, five miles northwest of Denison, Texas. The project, authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938, was built by the United States Army Corps of Engineers under the direction of Lucius D. Clay and is operated by the corps of engineers, Tulsa District. The lake is owned by the United States government; construction costing $54 million began in 1939, and an informal opening was held in 1944. The dam is an earth embankment of rolled-fill type, 15,350 feet long and 165 feet high. It was built for flood control, power generation, conservation, and recreation. It houses two 35,000-kilowatt units with provisions for the installation of five additional power units. The lake's capacity is 4,505,000 acre-feet, and its discharge capacity is 750,000 cubic feet per second. The lake and dam have 1,250 miles of shoreline and protect 1,127,000 acres of land. Recreational facilities in the 194,775-square-mile area are under direction of the National Park Service, which maintains concessions for hunting, boating, fishing, and camping.

In 1967 Lake Texoma had a storage capacity of 2,722,000 acre-feet and a surface area of 91,200 acres. When the content drops below 2,250,100 acre-feet, the lake is divided into two pools by levees around the Cumberland oilfield. The drainage area is 39,719 square miles, of which 5,936 square miles is probably noncontributing. Facilities in the 1990s included fifty-seven campgrounds, numerous trailer parks, 110 picnic areas, more than 100 shelter buildings, and more than eighty boat ramps. Marinas and luxury resorts were located on both the Texas and Oklahoma shores. Some 10,000 boats were registered on the lake, where fish include black bass, smallmouth bass, Florida bass, white bass, striped bass, crappie, walleye, and catfish.

C. L. Dowell, Dams and Reservoirs in Texas: History and Descriptive Information (Texas Water Commission Bulletin 6408 [Austin, 1964]). Sherman Democrat, September 19, 1948. Texas State Travel Guide (Austin: State Department of Highways and Public Transportation, 1990).

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Seth D. Breeding, “Lake Texoma,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 19, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

March 1, 1995