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LYTLE LAKE. Lytle Lake is a reservoir on Lytle Creek within the city limits of Abilene in Taylor County (at 32°26' N, 99°43' W). The lake was built in 1897 to secure a water supply for the city and to attract a proposed state hospital for epileptics. The reservoir was named for early settler John Lytle, who trapped mustangs in the area to sell to the Mexican government. The Lytle Water Company was formed to build the dam, with banker J. G. Lowden as chief stockholder and banker Otto W. Steffens as his business partner. The company began work on an earthen dam on April 1, 1897, and on June 14 of that year, with the dam almost complete, a downpour hit the area and filled the lake overnight. On November 23, 1913, the Lytle dam cracked and washed away when a deluge of rain hit the area. A thicker and higher concrete dam was built by the American Public Service Company, which had acquired all the local utilities on December 2, 1912. Lytle Lake was to prove inadequate as the city's primary water supply: during the drought of 1917–18, it dried up. The drought moved civic leaders to seek other solutions to the water shortage problem, and Lytle Lake became less important as a water source for Abilene. The West Texas Utilities Company evolved in 1923 as a member of the American Public Service Company, and Lytle Lake served its power plant. The lake changed ownership in the 1930s, when the American Public Service Company sold its holdings to Central and Southwest, Incorporated. In July 1952 Lytle Lake went dry again, and when its bed had dried (in September 1952), the lake was excavated and 700,000 cubic yards of silt were removed. The lake has an estimated capacity of 400,000,000 gallons of water, and its surface area is 163.6 acres. In October 1978 the lake was offered for sale to area residents, but they declined the offer. During the mid-1980s the West Texas Utilities Company still owned the lake, which was used by the company as a recreational facility.


Katharyn Duff, Abilene . . . On Catclaw Creek: A Profile of a West Texas Town (Abilene, Texas: Reporter Publishing, 1969). Paul D. Lack et al., The History of Abilene (Abilene, Texas: McMurry College, 1981). Taylor County News, April 2, June 18, 1897. Juanita Daniel Zachry, A History of Rural Taylor County (Burnet, Texas: Nortex, 1980).

Pamela Hassink

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Handbook of Texas Online, Pamela Hassink, "Lytle Lake," accessed October 23, 2017,

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on October 23, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.