Herrington Lake was created in the 1920's when a dam was constructed across the Dix River three miles upstream from its confluence with the Kentucky River. The purpose of the dam was to establish a reservoir which would provide the water to operate a hydroelectric generating station. The dam also provided the State of Kentucky with the capability to partially mitigate flooding on the Kentucky River by holding back water in Herrington Lake during critical periods. Construction of Dix Dam began in the fall of 1923, impoundment of water began on March 17, 1925, and the project was completed and power generation began in October 1927.
It is worth noting that the Dix Dam was constructed by the private sector and prior to the Great Depression when many public works projects were financed and managed by the federal government throughout the United States. Consequently, Kentucky Utilities owns the land beneath Herrington Lake (up to the maximum possible lake level of 760 ft. above sea level) as well as the Dix Dam and co-located E.W. Brown Power Generating Station.
At the time of its construction Dix Dam was the largest rock filled dam in the world, and was truly an engineering marvel of its day. The top of the dam is 287 feet above the riverbed (150 feet higher than Niagara Falls) and stretches 1,087 feet across the Dix River Gorge between Mercer and Garrard County. The dam in 24 feet wide on top and 750 feet wide at its base. Herrington Lake is the deepest lake in Kentucky. It is about 35 miles long, up to 1,200 ft. wide, and covers 2335 acres with 325 miles of shoreline. The deepest area is near the Dix Dam where water depth reaches 249 feet. The mean depth in the lake is 78 feet. Because the lake is so deep it has only frozen over twice - in 1936 and 1978. The estimated capacity of the lake is 175,000,000,000 gallons.