Rita Blanca Lake is on Rita Blanca Creek, a tributary of the Canadian River, in the Canadian River basin three miles south of Dalhart in Hartley County (at 36°12' N, 102°30' W). The Rita Blanca Lake project was started in 1938 by the WPA, in association with the Panhandle Water Conservation Authority. An earthen dam was built to control flooding in the Rita Blanca-Carisso creeks drainage area. By May 1941 the reservoir was three-fourths full, and the dedication ceremony, attended by such personages as Marvin Jones, John L. McCarty, and A. A. Meredith, took place on July 20 of that year. Heavy rains in September caused the lower portion of the spillway to collapse, but the dam itself was not endangered. In June 1951 Dalhart obtained a ninety-nine-year lease for the operation of the project as a recreational facility without any right of diversion. Under recommendations from the city council's Rita Blanca Lake Park Commission, landscaping and roads were improved, recreation facilities were built, wells were drilled to stabilize the water level, and buildings were erected for fairs and club meetings throughout the 1950s. In 1960 the commission was transferred to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. The lake has a capacity of 12,100 acre-feet and a surface area of 524 acres at an elevation of 3,860 feet above mean sea level. The drainage area above the dam is 1,062 square miles. The lake is operated and managed jointly by Hartley and Dallam county commissioners and used solely for recreational purposes. A full-time caretaker resides in the vicinity.