Sam Rayburn Reservoir

The shores of Sam Rayburn Reservoir

The shores of Sam Rayburn Reservoir

Photo by Ricraider, CC by SA 3

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.

Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Lake Measurements

Surface Area (in acres)
Storage Capacity (in acre-feet)

Belongs to

Sam Rayburn Reservoir is part of or belongs to the following places.

Lake Maintained or Owned by


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Date of Origin

1965 58 years ago

Currently Exists


Place type

Sam Rayburn Reservoir is classified as a Lake


  • Flood Control
  • Recreation
  • Power generation
  • Municipal water supply
  • Irrigation
  • Industry

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