While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


Robert Wooster
Sam Rayburn Reservoir
Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Construction at the Sam Rayburn Reservoir
Construction at the Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Courtesy of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.
Map of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir
Map of the Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Courtesy of the United States Army Corps of Engineers. Image available on the Internet and included in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.

SAM RAYBURN RESERVOIR. Sam Rayburn Reservoir, formerly known as McGee Bend Reservoir, is dammed eighty miles north of Beaumont (at 31°04' N, 94°06' W). It is fed by the Angelina River and lies in Jasper, Angelina, Sabine, Nacogdoches, and San Augustine counties. The reservoir is flanked on the north and South banks by the Angelina National Forest. The United States Army Corps of Engineers and began construction at the McGee Bend site on September 7, 1956, and deliberate impoundment of water began on March 29, 1965. Paul Hardeman, Incorporated, of Stanton, California, served as general contractor for the project, which cost nearly $66,000,000. The project was renamed in honor of Samuel T. (Sam) Rayburn in 1963. The dedication ceremony on May 8, 1965, included a principal address from President Lyndon Baines Johnson delivered by phone from the White House. The reservoir is designed for flood control and power generation, owned by the United States government, and operated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Fort Worth district. The earthfill dam has a spillway crest elevation of 176 feet and a top flood-control pool capacity of 3,997,600 acre-feet. The Sam Rayburn Dam Electric Cooperative operated two hydroelectric generators commissioned in September of 1965, which produce a total capacity of 52,000 kilowatt-hours marketed by the Southwestern Power Administration. Power generation began on July 1, 1966. The Sam Rayburn Municipal Power Agency formed in 1979 as a municipal power agency jointly owned by the cities of Liberty, Livingston, and Jasper.  The agency was created to obtain electrical power for the member cities, as well as the Vinton Public Power Authority that provided power to refineries and chemical plants in Vinton, Louisiana. With a drainage area of 3,449 square miles, Rayburn Reservoir conserves water for municipal, industrial, agricultural, and recreational purposes. It is a premier largemouth bass fishery that hosts over three hundred tournaments annually.


Texas Water Development Board, Engineering Data on Dams and Reservoirs in Texas, Part 1 (Austin: Water Development Board, 1974). U.S. Geological Survey, Water Resources Data Texas: Water Year 1983, Volume 1 (Austin: U.S. Geological Survey, 1984).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, Robert Wooster, "SAM RAYBURN RESERVOIR," accessed July 02, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/rus01.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on October 12, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...