Texas over Time: Lake Waco

September 22, 2015 Amanda Norman

Texas has changed quite a bit over the years, as is readily seen in our vast photograph and postcard collections. To help bring some of those changes to life, we’ve created a “Texas over Time” series of GIFs that will illustrate the construction and renovations of buildings, changing aerial views, and more. Our collections are especially strong on Waco and Baylor images, but look for some views beyond the Heart of Texas, too.


  • Lake Waco was originally created by a dam on the Bosque River in 1930 that cost $2.5 million.
  • The dam was rebuilt in 1964 for a cost of $48 million. Then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson presided over the groundbreaking that was truncated due to a severe thunderstorm. The new dam was 140 feet high and expanded the lake to a surface area of 7,000 acres.
  • All of the land for the lake expansion was acquired through a willing-seller willing-buyer basis at contemporary market rates. Eminent domain was not used.
  • The lake sits on land that is made up of limestone, shale, and chalk deposits. The lake, as well as the area immediately around it, is an archaeologically significant site, as artifacts from several thousands of years of Native American habitation have been found there, as well as artifacts from early European settlement of the McLennan County area.


Lake Waco Clippings 1930-1961 vertical file, The Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Scott, Ann M., Karl W. Kibler, and Marie E. Blake. “National Register Testing of Nine Archeological Sites at Waco Lake, McLennan County, Texas.” Austin: Prewitt and Associates, 2002.

If you’re interested in learning more about efforts to control Texas rivers, join us on October 22 to hear Kenna Lang Archer’s presentation on her book, Unruly Waters, which explores the history of the Brazos River.

See all of the images in our Flickr set. GIF and factoids by Braxton Ray, archives student assistant.


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