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Percy Priest Lake Description

Percy Priest Lake Description

J. Percy Priest Lake is a reservoir near Nashville in Middle Tennessee. It is formed by J. Percy Priest Dam, located between miles six and seven of the Stones River. The dam (easily visible from Interstate 40) is located about 10 miles (16 km) east of downtown Nashville and impounds a lake 42 miles long. The lake and dam are named for Congressman Percy Priest.

The lake covers portions of Davidson, Rutherford and Wilson counties and consists of 14,200 acres of water at summer pool elevation 490 feet above mean sea level. The water is surrounded by 18,854 acres of public lands; 10,000 acres are devoted to wildlife management. The site of the former town of Old Jefferson was inundated by the reservoir; the community was demolished in the early 1960s for the building of the dam.


The Percy Priest dam project was first authorized by the U.S. Congress in 1946 under the name “Stewarts Ferry Reservoir.” An act of Congress approved July 2, 1958, changed the name to honor Congressman Priest. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project was completed in 1967.


The dam, powerhouse, lake and public lands are operated and supervised by the Corps of Engineers’ Nashville District personnel. The Natural Resource Management Office maintains three campgrounds (Anderson Road, Seven Points and Poole Knobs), eleven day-use/picnic areas (Anderson Road, Cook, Damsite, East Fork, Fate Sanders, Jefferson Springs, Nice’s Mill, Overlook, Seven Points, Smith Springs and Tailwater) and twelve boat launching ramps (Anderson Road, Cook, East Fork, Fall Creek, Fate Sanders, Hurricane Creek, Jefferson Springs, Lamar Hill, Mona, Nice’s Mill, Poole Knobs, Seven Points, Smith Springs, Stewart’s Creek and Viverett Creek). Marinas at the lake include Nashville Shores, Elm Hill, Four Corners, Fate Sanders, Hamilton Creek and Percy Priest. The lake is also home to a number of recreational organizations such as the Tennessee Boat Club, Percy Priest Yacht Club, Vanderbilt Sailing Club, the Vanderbilt Rowing Club and the Nashville Rowing Club.

Credit for Description above: Wikipedia

Wiki/Creative Commons License for description above only:http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/


The official name is J Percy Priest but I’ve never once heard it called that, locals call it Percy Priest or just “Priest”

The lake is shallow and rocky in many areas, special care must be taken and navigational buoys heeded, you won’t find any house boats for rent on Percy Prest for this reason alone. It’s a good idea to buy a chart of the lake before launching a boat here for the first time. It’s a suburban lake with a good deal of development around it but in some parts you’ll feel like you are “in the country.” Some sections of the lake can be very crowded on Summer weekends. Despite the large numbers of visitors it is a high quality fishery known to have a wide variety of fish (black bass, stripes and hybrids, catfish and especially for it’s crappy) fish abound in truly surprising quantities. This is a testamant to both the water quality and lake bottom structure along with the expert management of the fishery by the TWRA.




The Corps of Engineers can’t possibly keep up with all the litter that’s left behind by the many thousands of careless visitors to Percy Priest Lake. Very few people would be willing to pay the added taxes that cleaning it up would require and it would be a big waste of highly trained Corps employee’s time anyway.


Over the years the lake got a bad reputation because of the sheer volume of litter on the shores and most especially the islands. Some of the islands looked worse than a roadside leading to a dump in a third world country.


A few years ago a private citizen formed a group of others equally motivated to do something about how severe the trash problem had become on Percy Priest Lake. This group then partnered with like-minded corporate sponsors and as a whole they joined forces with our government (The Corps of Engineers). Each and every member of this group contributed in their own way, none more valuable than the other and as full partners in finding solutions to the trash problem(s) that they as individual private citizens, corporations or government agencies could never have done alone. As a result the lake is now much cleaner than it has been in many years.


If you visit Percy Priest Lake you might consider volunteering, donating or just dropping a line of thanks to:

Nashville Clean Water Project Percy Priest Lake

Nashville Clean Water Project is a model for other groups that I hope to eventually see caring for all of Tennessee’s lakes, rivers and streams. Some of our other popular Tennessee waters already have active “Friends of” style groups but too many do not.

Please consider showing your appreciation of Percy Priest Lake by picking up some litter during your next visit, many hands make light work.

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