Description - Jennings Randolph Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1962. The project is located on the North Branch Potomac River in Garrett County, Maryland and Mineral County, West Virginia approximately eight miles upstream of Bloomington, Maryland and approximately five miles north of Elk Garden, West Virginia. The dam controls a drainage area of 263 square miles, which is about 20 percent of the total North Branch basin. The project was designed to improve the water quality of the river downstream of the dam, to reduce flood damage, to provide a source of water supply for municipalities and industry downstream, and to afford the public opportunities for recreation.
Copyright: - US Army Corps of Engineers
Jennings Randolph Lake
It is estimated that the dam at Jennings Randolph Lake prevents nearly half of the yearly flood damages that used to occur along the North Branch Potomac River.
- The full recreation lake extends upstream from the dam a distance of 5.5 miles, has a surface area of 952 acres, a shoreline of 13.6 miles, and is one-half mile wide at its widest point. The total project, land and water, covers an area of some 4,500 acres, 2,7000 in Maryland and 1,800 in West Virginia.
Jennings Randolph Lake has developed recreation areas in both Maryland and West Virginia. Maryland currently features two scenic overlooks, both accessible from MD State Route 135 and Walnut Bottom Road, and a boat launch facility from Mt. Zion Road. The West Virginia facilities include a scenic overlook, picnic area, boat launch, and an 84-site campground. These areas are all accessible from WV State Route 46. The West Virginia Overlook consist of a two level visitor center with scenic views of the lake, dam, intake tower, and flood control facilities. Restrooms, vending machines, and a drinking fountain are provided.
The West Virginia Overlook is also the site of the "Waffle Rock," a unique geological feature with a geometric pattern resembling that of a giant waffle. The pattern was created over a period of 300 million years of folding, fracturing and weathering of the rock.
There are several new features as of 2001. A new camp store, operated by Mineral County Parks & Recreation Commission, has been added in the campground. The Commission also has cabins for rent in Barnum, WV, just downstream of the dam. Call them at 304-788-5732 for details. A new group picnic shelter complete with electricity, lighting, grills, and potable water is available in the campground. The shelter can accommodate up to 80 people. Improvements have been made at the picnic area, too. The comfort station now has flush toilets and sinks and there is a water faucet at one of the pavilions.
The recreational benefits of the water quality control performed by the Corps of Engineers includes successful trout fishing below the dam and whitewater rafting, now a major attraction on select weekends in April and May of each year.
Recreation - Extensive outdoor recreation is available at Jennings Randolph Lake. Visitors enjoy whitewater rafting, wildlife viewing, picnicking, playgrounds, camping, hiking, an amphitheater, boating, fishing, water-skiing, canoeing and more. Public bathhouses, restrooms, drinking water and pay telephone are located at the various recreation sites.
Climate - Maryland has four distinct seasons with spring and fall being particularly pleasant with low humidity and mild temperatures. The average January temperature ranges between 30 and 34 degrees F (-1 to 1 C) with July averages ranging between 74 degrees F and 80 degrees F. Typically, coastal temperatures are slightly warmer then the western Appalachian Plateau area. Travelers should be aware that winters can become miserably cold and summers can be hazy, hot and humid with afternoon thundershowers.
Jennings Randolph Lake falls on the West Virginia and Maryland state lines, west of Cumberland, Maryland and north of the tiny West Virginia town, Elk Garden.