Burr Oak Lake, Glouster, OH
The Tom Jenkins Dam impounds the East Branch of Sunday Creek, a tributary of the Hocking River, just above the Sunday Creek mouth. The dam was completed by the Corps of Engineers in 1950 as a matter of local survival. Residents of the Hocking River Basin and Athens, Glouster, and Lancaster had tolerated extensive spring flooding since the area was first settled. The worst flood in the area’s history occurred in 1907. The local, state, and federal government began cooperating in studying the situation and under the Flood Control Act of 1944, construction of the dam began. The Tom Jenkins Dam was named in honor of the congressman who served the Ohio 10th district at the time and spearheaded the legislation through Congress.
Recreational opportunities abound.
Hikers find solace and a sense of accomplishment following the scenic trail system. The Burr Oak Lake and Buckeye Trail pass by the north and south ends of the dam. There are over 10 miles of hiking trails and three bridle trails on the nearby state lands as well as access to the federal landholdings.
Hunting and trapping are allowed in season on U.S. Forest Service lands and in some sections of the state park, though restrictions apply on state land. White tail deer are the name of the game in southeastern Ohio and the region surrounding the dam provides good public-land archery, musket and shotgun hunting opportunities in season. Contact the park office for details on land open to hunting and trapping.
Fishing in the 632-acre Burr Oak Lake is good for largemouth bass. The largest bass sampled during the most recent Ohio Division of Wildlife fisheries survey was over 21 inches and there’s always a chance of connecting with a lunker-class fish.
The next most popular catch on Burr Oak Lake is the channel catfish. Crappies and bluegills are in the lake in fishable populations but catch rates are lower than what panfishermen like to see. The entire lake is under a no-wake watercraft restriction and four launch areas allow access to the water. To say the boating on Burr Oak Lake is peaceful is no exaggeration.
The Tom Jenkins Dam lies within the Burr Oak State Park. The park offers a campground that includes 17 electric sites, 78 non-electric sites, modern toilets, showers, and a dump station. Camping reservations are recommended, especially during the summer and on holiday weekends.
Those not willing to rough it enjoy the 30 cottages overlooking the lake. Cottages are nestled into the rugged landscape in a heavily forested section with paved road access. The cottages sleep six and feature air conditioning, cable television, kitchen utensils, linens, towels, and showers. The screened porches add a delight finishing touch.
One of the region’s most luxurious places to stay is right on the state park property. The Burr Oak Lodge rests on a ridge overlooking the lake with a beautiful wooded view. Visitors have their choice of 60 guest rooms and access to outdoor tennis, an indoor swimming pool, a lake swimming beach, lounge, and hiking trails that meander through the area and down to the lake.
The park’s public beach stretches for 500 feet and amenities include changing booths, showers, and a bathhouse. Volleyball courts entertain those who want that little extra something to do.
Public restrooms are available at the dam along with a handicapped-accessible porta-john during the winter months. A first-come, first-served picnic shelter is available along with several picnic tables scattered throughout the vicinity.
The Tom Jenkins Dam is reached from nearby Athens by driving 20 miles north on U.S. 33 and St. Rt. 13. The dam is 4.5 miles northeast of Glouster in Athens County and less than half a mile southeast of Burr Oak.
The dam office is open from 7:30AM to 4:00PM. For further information contact the U.S. Army Crops of Engineers at (740)767-3527 or the Burr Oak State Park office at (740)767-3797. For state park camping reservations call 1-866-644-6727.