Lake Seminole

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Lake Seminole
USACE Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam.jpg
Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam. This earthen dam is over one mile (1.6 km) long but this photograph shows only the concrete and steel lock and water control structure of the dam. Florida is on the left, Georgia the right.
Location of Lake Seminole in Florida, USA.
Location of Lake Seminole in Florida, USA.
Lake Seminole
Location of Lake Seminole in Florida, USA.
Location of Lake Seminole in Florida, USA.
Lake Seminole
Location GeorgiaFlorida border,
United States
Coordinates 30°42′29″N 84°51′47″W / 30.708°N 84.863°W / 30.708; -84.863
Latitude and Longitude:

30°42′29″N 84°51′47″W / 30.708°N 84.863°W / 30.708; -84.863
Primary inflows Chattahoochee, Flint River
Primary outflows Apalachicola River
Catchment area17,200 sq mi (44,548 km2)
Basin countriesUnited States
Max. length35 mi (56 km)
Max. width2 mi (3.2 km)
Surface area37,500 acres (152 km2)
Average depth10 ft (3.0 m)
Max. depth30 ft (9.1 m)
Shore length1376 mi (605 km)
Surface elevation77.5 ft (23.6 m)
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

Lake Seminole is a reservoir located in the southwest corner of Georgia along its border with Florida, maintained by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Chattahoochee and Flint rivers join in the lake, before flowing from the Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam, which impounds the lake, as the Apalachicola River. The lake contains 37,500 acres (152 km2) of water, and has a shoreline of 376 mi (605 km). [1] The fish in Lake Seminole include largemouth bass, crappie, chain pickerel, catfish, striped bass and other species. American alligators, snakes and various waterfowl are also present in the lake, which is known for its goose hunting. [2] [N 1]


Authorised by the United States Congress in the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1946 as the Jim Woodruff Lock and Dam Project, [4] construction began the following year. With the dam completed in 1952, [5] in 1957 the lake was opened. [4] The project was expected to cost $29 million USD, [6] but when completed had required $46.5 million USD. [7] The lake is named after the Seminole Indians. [8]

In 2000, in a case that later made national news, a Tallahassee man, Michael Williams, was believed to have drowned while duck hunting on the Jackson County, Fla., side of the lake. However, his body could not be found during a 44-day search, which was unprecedented for a drowning victim in the large but relatively shallow lake. Some searchers speculated that the body had been eaten by alligators, though naturalists said the animals would not have been feeding in December, when Williams disappeared. Other oddities with the incident convinced officials to suspect foul play. [9] After Williams was declared dead, his widow, Denise Williams, married a man named Brian Winchester. Years later, their marriage fell apart, and Winchester was eventually convicted of kidnapping her and holding her at gunpoint. During the legal proceedings against him, Winchester admitted to authorities that he had killed Michael Williams and staged the disappearance in 2000 as part of a conspiracy with Denise Williams, his lover at the time. He then led police to the man's buried remains. Denise Williams was convicted of murder in December 2018. [10]

Jim Woodruff Dam

The Jim Woodruff Dam, located about 1,000 feet (300 m) south of the original confluence of the Chattahoochee River, Flint River and Spring Creek to form the Apalachicola River [11] and with a spillway 2,224 feet (678 m) wide, [5] is a hydroelectric and navigational dam named in honor of James W. Woodruff, Sr., a Georgia businessman who spearheaded the development of the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Project. [11]

The dam crosses the state line between Georgia and Florida, with the eastern end of the dam being located in Georgia and the majority, including the locks, gates, spillway, and the powerhouse all being within Florida, just 100 feet south of the southeast corner of Georgia.[ citation needed]


The Jim Woodruff Dam has a single lock, 450 feet (140 m) in length and 82 feet (25 m) wide, [5] that provides navigational access to the lake and the upstream rivers from the Apalachicola River and Gulf of Mexico. Lake Seminole extends upstream along the Chattahoochee River for 30 miles (48 km) and up the Flint River for 35 miles (56 km). [7]


The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains 10 parks along the shore of the lake, [12] with 35 parks in total available for recreation, including five campgrounds. [13] Seminole State Park covers 604 acres (244 ha) of lakeshore in Georgia, while Three Rivers State Park covers 686 acres (278 ha) of wetland [14] north of Sneads, Florida.

San Carlos de los Chacatos

The West Bank Overlook at the western end of the dam is the location of the Spanish mission San Carlos de los Chacatos, established in 1674 following a revolt by the Chacato. [15] [16] Used by both Marcos Delgado and Don Laureano de Torres y Ayala on their expeditions, [16] the mission was attacked by Alibamu warriors in 1696, [16] then later by British forces led by Colonel James Moore during Queen Anne's War and abandoned. [15]

Resettled during the Creek War in 1813 by Uchee refugees, the site was abandoned again in 1818 during the First Seminole War, and was not rediscovered until 1948 during archaeological work by the Florida Park Service supporting the construction of Lake Seminole. [16]

Fort Scott

Fort Scott was built in 1816 on the west bank of the Flint River, just before it empties into the Apalachicola. The intent was to protect what was then the southern border of the United States (the border between Georgia and Florida), subject to various types of invaders operating through or out of Spanish territory. The Fort was abandoned after Florida became a U.S. territory in 1821 and there was no longer a border to defend. The site is under Lake Seminole.


Lake Seminole is known for its large bass fishing during summer months and duck hunting in the early winter. It has also been a location of preference for the well renowned Bassmasters.

  1. ^ For many years, The Canada goose was protected throughout most of Florida, with one exception, it was legal to hunt the goose on Lake Seminole. [2] However, increases in the feral population has led to the season being opened statewide. [3]


  1. ^ Lake Seminole page, main page, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website
  2. ^ a b FWCC: Waterfowl and coot season dates set (2007)
  3. ^ FWC Hunting Regulations 2009-2010
  4. ^ a b U.S. Army Corps of Engineers: Corps Lakes Gateway
  5. ^ a b c Lakes Online: Lake Seminole
  6. ^ Palm Beach Post, 4 October 1947
  7. ^ a b Lake Seminole page, Information page, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website
  8. ^ Krakow, Kenneth K. (1975). Georgia Place-Names: Their History and Origins (PDF). Macon, GA: Winship Press. p. 203. ISBN  0-915430-00-2.
  9. ^ Portman, Jennifer (December 14, 2006). "Six years ago, this hunter disappeared". Tallahassee Democrat. Retrieved November 8, 2015.
  10. ^ Etters, Karl; Portman, Jennifer (December 14, 2018). "'Justice for Michael': 18 years later, Florida woman found guilty in plot to kill husband". USA Today. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  11. ^ a b Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River System History page
  12. ^ Lake Seminole page, parks page, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers website
  13. ^ Great Lakes in Georgia
  14. ^ Three Rivers State Park brochure
  15. ^ a b ARROW: History: Jackson County
  16. ^ a b c d Jackson County, Florida Historic Sites and Research site

External links