History of Milford Lake
Milford Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1954 as a
"multi-purpose" project. The purposes include flood control, water
supply, water quality, navigation, and recreation/wildlife.
Construction of the dam began July 13, 1962 at river mile 8.3 on the
Republican River. The dam consists of a rolled earth fill embankment
(15 million cubic yards) with an "uncontrolled" spillway on the
right bank. The term "uncontrolled" refers to the lack of spillway
gates such as those at Tuttle Creek Lake in Manhattan, KS. The
outlet works are comprised of an intake tower, a gated single
21-foot horseshoe conduit, and a stilling basin (40 thousand cubic
yards of concrete).
Many contractors were involved with the project during the
construction phase. Contractors built new roads and altered existing
roadways; relocated railroad facilities; relocated city owned
facilities in Wakefield and Milford; relocated electrical,
telephone, and gas lines; relocated cemeteries; built recreation
areas; and cleared structures from within the reservoir flood pool.
The towns of Alida and Broughton ceased to exist, with houses either
moved to other locations or razed, burned, and buried. The town of
Alida had a major clearing contract for the removal of the Alida
Cooperative grain elevator. Originally a local Chiropractor looked
into gaining permission to develop the grain elevator into a hotel
with restaurant. Corps of Engineers studies showed that the base of
the elevator would not support the structure after the lake
inundated it. According to local newspaper articles, it took six
separate blasts over a two-day period to bring the elevator down.
Broughton had two railroads that came through town, the Rock Island
from the east and the Union Pacific from the southeast. The town
sported a stockyard, grain elevator, Post Office, school, church,
telephone exchange, grocery store, private homes, and a blacksmith’s
shop under a large cottonwood tree. According to a local newspaper
article, many men who lived in the area worked for the railroads. A
large Mexican population resided in town and it was reported that
many grew marijuana in their gardens to mix in with their
cigarettes. This was before marijuana became illegal.
Finally the situation received national recognition when Paul Harvey
(a well known radio personality) stated, "Come to Clay County,
Kansas, marijuana capital of the world." Even though the town is
gone, an annual Broughton picnic is held for those who still
remember. Portions of the towns of Wakefield and Milford were
relocated to higher ground. Farms were dismantled and trees were
removed from areas soon to be covered by the lake waters.
Impoundment of the lake began January 16, 1967 and six months later
on July 13, the multipurpose pool elevation of 1144.4 m.s.l. (mean
sea level) was reached. Milford Lake’s dedication ceremony was held
in May of 1968. Lyndon Johnson, then President of the United States,
was scheduled to appear but did not come.
A final historical story for the area is the one about the "big,
big, boat". In 1967 a local man had a dream of building a paddleboat
to put out on Milford Lake. He began construction of the boat in the
basement of his house. As the boat grew, his basement got smaller.
Eventually he had to dismantle part of his house and garage to
remove the boat from his basement. The boat was completed in a
vacant lot next door with the installation of the paddles. As the
boat was transported to nearby Milford Lake, overhead power lines
had to be raised. The boat was placed in storage at Thunderbird
Marina. Later on, the "big, big, boat" burned without ever being put
on the water.
Over the course of the last 34 or so years the Milford Lake Project
has provided over $921 million in flood prevention; $250 million of
that protection occurred during the 1993 fiscal year (Oct. 1, 1992 –
Sept. 30, 1993). The initial cost of construction of the dam and
reservoir was approximately $49,700,00.