The Providence City Lake is the primary water source for the drinking water of city residents, as well as a haven for local fisherman. As city officials look to develop tourism in the area around the lake, looking back on the history of the lake seemed appropriate.

Prior to construction of the lake, the Tradewater River was the primary water intake for the city's water system. When the lake was completed, the new intake was just some 2,000 feet away from the original intake, in the vicinity of what was then known as "Maude Arnold Farm."

According to records found in the J-E archives, the City of Providence purchased some 300 acres of land in 1951 in preparation for the construction of the lake.

Two of the main plots of land in that purchase came from V.K. and Mary Prow and E.Q. and Antha Mae Prow. The deeds for both were signed on June 9, 1951. The first, a 65.42 acres lot was sold for a sum of $4,021 in cash, with a second, an adjoining 16.3 acre lot selling for $815. Together the land makes up the 81.72 acre property that contains the Providence City Lake itself.

The purchase came with an easement that granted the Prow family and its heirs "free and uninterrupted use and enjoyment" of any of the property that was not inundated by water for a period of 99 years. That "rent free" easement is in effect until June 8, 2050.

The easement grants the Prow family and its heirs the right to farm any of the property not within 500 feet of the lake, to cut and sell any timber on the property and the right to keep livestock, as long as the presence of said livestock did not result in the contamination of the city's water reservoir. The easement also forbids the family from doing "any other practice" that could contaminate the reservoir.

Bids for construction of the lake were opened on July 3, 1951, with the winning bid eventually going to Hart and Hart in the amount of $88,961. The cost for the purchase all of the property involved was $14,809.50. With other engineering fees, the total cost of the project was an estimated $110,000.

Hart and Hart was a strip mining operation that was working near the city of Providence at that time.

Original engineering estimates rated the lake at the ability to provide 217 million gallons of water per year.

The exact date the City Lake project was finished is unclear. Mayor Doug Hammers told the J-E that he believed it was sometime in 1953.

Today the city is looking to expand recreational opportunities that could include a new fishing peer, hiking and camping. City officials are working with the Green River Area Development District to apply to the Department of Local Government (DLG) for a $61,000 50/50 Federal Land and Water Grant. If successful, the tourism commission would chip in $24,000 and the city would supply $47,000 of "in-kind" match, which could consist of labor, equipment and materials, bringing the overall grant amount to $122,000.

Reach MATT HUGHES at 270-667-2068 or matt@journalenterprise.com.