Many of South Carolina’s major reservoir lakes were created during the Great Depression to relieve unemployment. They range from 7,500 acres to 110,000 acres, and several feature operating hydroelectric plants. The lakes are distributed in a variety of geographic zones, including Lake Jocassee in the upstate mountains and Lake Marion in the swampy lowlands. Most are bordered by a state park, with access to fishing, camping, boating and water recreation.
Lake Greenwood offers boat ramps and forms the dividing line between Laurens and Greenwood Counties. The 11,400-acre lake has also provided a reliable water supply, electricity, and recreation to the area since 1940.
Hartwell Lake provides flood control, electricity and recreation for local communities. The 56,000-acre lake is formed by the Seneca, Savannah, Chauga and Tugaloo rivers. Public access is offered through local parks, public boat ramps, and the Lake Hartwell and Sadler’s Creek Recreation areas.
Lake Jocassee is known for its mostly pristine shoreline, views of the surrounding mountains and waterfalls that tumble directly into the lake. The 7,565-acre lake is stocked with brown and rainbow trout, smallmouth bass and sunfish.
Lake Keowee means "Place of the Mulberries." It was visited by Spanish explorer Hernando DeSoto when he explored the area in 1540. Public access to this 18,372 acre lake is through public boat ramps and the Keowee-Toxaway State Natural Area.
Lake Marion is the largest lake in South Carolina. Extending over 110,000 acres, it is famous for striped bass fishing and abundant wildlife. Public access is provided through Santee State Park, the Santee National Wildlife Refuge and several public boat ramps.
Lake Moultrie covers about 60,000 acres in Berkeley County and was named after William Moultrie, a Revolutionary War general. Along with Lake Marion, it is famous for producing large striped bass that have won several world records.
Lake Murray is well known for striped bass fishing and summer water sports. To create the 50,000-acre lake it was necessary to relocate 5,000 citizens and remove 2,000 graves, three churches and six schools.
Lake Russell covers 26,650-acres on the Savannah River, and is an excellent habitat for catfish, largemouth bass and bream. Access is through Calhoun Falls State Recreation Area.
Lake Wateree was created in 1920 by the damming of the Wateree River and is one of South Carolina’s oldest man-made lakes. It is a favorite of campers, birdwatchers, recreational boaters and fisherman. Lake Wateree State Recreation Area provides public access.
Lake Wylie was created in 1904 with a dam near Fort Mill, and it is the oldest lake along the Catawba River. The lake was enlarged in 1924 by a reconstruction of the dam, and it now provides electric power and recreation to residents of both North and South Carolina.
Thurmond Lake, built between 1946 and 1954, serves 7 million visitors every year. It offers boating, hunting, fishing, day use areas, camping and trails. Public access is through Hamilton Branch State Recreation Area, Baker Creek State Park and Hickory Knot State Resort Park.