Possum Kingdom Reservoir, popularly known as Possum Kingdom Lake, is on the Brazos River in Palo Pinto, Stephens, Jack, and Young counties (its center is at 32°52' N, 98°26' W). It has a capacity of 724,700 acre-feet, a surface area of 19,800 acres, and a shoreline of 310 miles. Here Morris Sheppard Dam impounds 1,500,000 acre-feet of water annually for municipal, industrial, mining, irrigation, flood-control, recreational, and power-generation uses. Area hills and valleys, post oaks, and cedars make a "veritable paradise" for possums around the lake. The dam, named for Senator John Morris Sheppard and authorized by the United States Congress in 1935, was the first erected by the Brazos River Conservation and Reclamation District (see BRAZOS RIVER AUTHORITY). It was begun on May 29, 1938, under general contractors C. F. Lytle and A. L. Johnson and completed on March 20, 1941. The dam, a heavily buttressed concrete structure with adjoining earth embankment, was built at a cost of $8,500,000, which represented a $4,500,000 grant from the federal government, supplemented by $4,000,000 from ad valorem taxes in ten counties along the lower Brazos watershed. Drainage area above the dam is 22,550 square miles, of which 9,240 are noncontributing. The dam is 2,747 feet long and has a maximum height of 189 feet; the spillway is 987 feet above mean sea level. The average output of the dam's power-generating plant is estimated at 73,000,000 KWH. The lake and reservoir are currently owned and operated by the Brazos River Authority.
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C. L. Dowell, Dams and Reservoirs in Texas: History and Descriptive Information (Texas Water Commission Bulletin 6408 [Austin, 1964]). Texas Water Development Board, Texas Water Development Board and Water for Texans (Austin, 1974).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
“Possum Kingdom Reservoir,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed August 11, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
March 1, 1995