John W Flannagan Dam And Reservoir

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John W Flannagan Dam And Reservoir


(540) 835-9544

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Flannagan Dam is located in Dickenson County, Virginia, and stores the waters of the Cranesnest and Pound Rivers. The dam was built as an element in the Comprehensive Flood Control Plan for the Ohio River Basin. Flannagan is located in the Pound River Valley only 12 miles south of the Breaks Interstate Park. The dam is operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and it provides flood protection and water supply for areas downstream along Pound River, Russell Fork, Levisa Fork, and Big Sandy River. Construction of the dam, spillway, and outlet works began in 1960, and was completed by 1964. The dam was named in honor of the late Ninth Virginia District Congressman, John Williams Flannagan, Jr., who was from the highlands of Southwest Virginia and provided much assistance in creating the flood control project. The earth-filled dam is 250 feet high and 916 feet long, and is constructed of rock with a central clay core, which prevents water from passing through the dam. A 1,145-acre lake is formed behind the dam with almost 40 miles of shoreline. South of the dam is the emergency spillway. The spillway contains six 42-foot by 38-foot gates used to control high water and prevent the lake from flowing over the top of the dam. The outlet works consist of an intake structure and an outlet tunnel. The 262-foot-high intake structure is located north of the dam, and contains 8 foot by 4-foot gates which control the amount of water released into Pound River. The water passes through the gates and into the 867 foot long, 16 foot diameter outlet tunnel which is cut through the mountain. Built primarily for flood control, the lake surface is kept at an elevation of 1,396 feet above sea level for recreation during the summer. During the fall, the lake is lowered 16 feet to hold additional water from winter and spring runoff. When flooding occurs, the gates in the intake structure are closed to the minimum level. The water, which runs off from the 221 square mile drainage basin behind the dam, is stored in the reservoir to protect life and property downstream. When the danger of downstream flooding has passed, the intake structure gates are opened to lower the reservoir. Opening the gates is coordinated with other dams on the Big Sandy and Ohio Rivers as a part of a larger flood control system. The dam has prevented millions of dollars of damage in excess of the $20 million it cost to build.

In addition to flood control, the reservoir also provides a clean and reliable source of drinking water to the people of Dickenson and Buchanan Counties. Over 1 million gallons of water daily is taken from Flannagan Lake by the independent John W. Flannagan Water Authority, treated, and then used by local water service authorities in the two counties. During the first four full weekends in October Flannagan has whitewater releases to achieve winter pool. From the dam, the first two miles are class II rapids which progresses downstream reaching Class V + rapids. Some of the most challenging rapids in the eastern U.S. can be found while traveling through Breaks Interstate Park with names like 20 Stitches, Broken Nose and Triple Drop.

Map of John W Flannagan Dam & Reservoir

Latitude, Longitude: 37.234839, -82.350769



  • Boating

    Launch ramps for boating enthusiasts and fishermen are located at the Spillway Launch Area, Lower Twin Area, Junction Area, Cranesnest Area, and the Pound River Area. Fees are charged at the Junction, Lower Twin, and Pound River.

  • Camping

    Camping at John W. Flannagan Lake is restricted to developed camping areas only and is prohibited outside of the campgrounds. John W. Flannagan Reservoir has three campgrounds, Lower Twin, Cranesnest Areas #1, #2, and #3 and Pound River Area all operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The three campgrounds combined have a total of 93 sites. Fifteen of these sites have electrical hookups and are located at Lower Twin Campground. Camping fees are charged from mid May through Labor Day.

  • Fishing

    Fishing and hunting regulations may be obtained from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' regional office in Marion, Virginia.

  • Hiking

    Hiking is not available.

  • Hunting

    Fishing and hunting regulations may be obtained from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries' regional office in Marion, Virginia.

  • Picnicking

    Picnic shelters are located at the Below Dam Area and Cranesnest Area #2. All shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis except when reserved in advance (a fee is required for reserving a shelter). Picnic shelters may be reserved by calling the project office. There are also picnic tables at all recreation areas, except the Junction Area.

  • RVing

    RVing is not available.

  • Water Sports

    Boating is available. Swimming is prohibited.



From Haysi, take VA 63, 614 and 739 (total 7 mi).

Phone Numbers


(540) 835-9544