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Fun Facts
  • Kahola is an Indian word meaning spring water.
  • The southern boundary of the Kansas Indian Reservation runs along the south edge of the lake.
  • There are 800 acres of lake and park of which 405 acres comprise the lake area.
  • The elevation of the Lake is 1270 feet above sea level.
  • The dam was completed in 1937 at a cost of $290,000.00.
  • When the Lake is full, it is 2 miles in length with a shoreline of 7 miles.
  • The Lake has a watershed of 16 square miles, only one and one-half miles under cultivation.
  • The dam is 1900 feet in length and a maximum height of 70 feet.
  • The width of the Lake at the widest point is 3500 feet with a boat racing course of one and one-quarter long.
  • There are 60 cabin sites around the lake.
  • There were 80,000 young trees set out around the lake by the C.C.C. camp from Council Grove.
  • When full, the Lake has a capacity of 2,157,000,000 gallons of water covering an area of 405 miles.
  • The deepest point in the Lake is near the outlet tower and is 50 feet deep when the lake is full.
  • When the Lake is full, it contains enough water to supply Emporia for one year without any rainfall, assuming that two-thirds of the water would be lost through evaporation at the Lake and in flowing 30 miles down the river bed to the Emporia Pumping Station.
  • The Lake was stocked with 85,000 fish by the Kansas State Fish and Game Commission.

Gleaned from a letter of John B. Smith to Ralph Dagett, Mayor of Emporia and dated October 6, 1973:

"There were some very dry years in the early thirties and in view of a severe water shortage, the City of Emporia decided to build a dam across Kahola Creek a the present site of Lake Kahola. This was for the purpose of impounding water as a reserve supply to be used by the City of Emporia when needed. This was the reason for building the lake in the first place.

During the forties and fifties, the City of Emporia persistently drained water from the Lake. At one time, it was completely dry with part of the lake bottom being plowed up and crops were planted."


Kahola Lake was built in 1936 as a source of water for the City of Emporia by the WPA (Works Progress Administration). The original Emporia City ordinance (number 1475) describes a certain tract of land on which the City has constructed a dam across Kahola Creek creating a lake, naming the tract of land, naming the lake, regulating the use thereof, and prescribing penalties for the violation of this ordinance. The WPA bussed two shifts of workers out of Emporia to finish the project.

The county lines of Morris and Chase counties runs through the middle of the lake. The south side of the lake is the southern boundary of the old Kansa/Kaw Indian Reservation which was transferred to the Indian nations of Oklahoma in 1877. The primary village was located three miles upstream of the present lake.

There have been six caretakers in the lake's history, and then the position was retitled, Director of Operations for our seventh overseer, Jason Passmore, in 2018 to allow for the expanding job responsibilities.

From 1937 until Present 

Rosey Harr ----------- 1937-1941
Joe Campbell --------- 1941-1946
Lovell VanGorden --- 1946-1976
Rex Roberts --------- 1976-1984
Mark Haag --------- 1984-1988
Drew "Doug" Montgomery --- 1988- 2018 
Note: Doug retired after 30 years of much-appreciated service to the lake. 
Jason Passmore --- 2018 - Present

Additional information here: