Ever wonder how Glade Run Lake got its beginning and when? Did you know that in 2011, Glade Run Lake had to be drained due to unsafe conditions? Learn the stories behind these questions and become more familiar with the iconic lake that so many people in the region have come to know and treasure.
Lake History. Land records indicate that in 1954 and 1955, a total of 12 tracts of land in Middlesex Township, Butler County, totaling approximately 145 acres were purchased for $29,000 with Dingell-Johnson funds. (Dingell-Johnson funds are federal aid money for projects of this nature.) These lands bordered Glade Run. Although the 12 tracts of land were purchased with federal dollars, records in the Butler County Recorder of Deeds Office show the land was directly transferred and deeded from the landowners to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Purpose and Acquisition. The purpose of the acquisition as stated in Federal Aid Project F-3-L-1 titled "Glade Run Lake and Dam Site" was as follows: "To acquire land necessary to construct a dam and provide a lake for public fishing in an area having one and three fourths million people within a 25-mile radius. Acquisition will also include land necessary for complete control of land and accommodation of public." The Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, O.H. Johnson, approved the project agreement on behalf of the Secretary of the Interior on March 18, 1954.
Although the deeds to the tracts of land are in the hands of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, according to the original agreement between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government, permission must be obtained from the federal government regarding any attempt to alter or change the original intent of the land or dispose of it.
On April 29, 1954, O.H. Johnson further approved Federal Aid Project Agreement F-4-D-1 titled "Glade Run Lake and Dam" in the amount of $93,535. The purpose of the project was :"To clear a lake site and construct a dam to provide public fishing in an area of heavy human population. To build 1,200 feet of entrance road and 800 feet of maintenance road."
Construction and First Opening Day. Site preparation and construction of the dam began in Fall 1954, and the dam and lake site were completed in March 1955. Stop logs were placed in the dam spillway to create the lake on March 15, 1955, the opening day of the lake!
On opening day of trout season in 1955, it was shoulder-to-shoulder around the lake with an estimated 8,000 anglers present.
PA Fish & Boat Commission Oversight and Improvements. The Property Department of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania designated the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission (PFBC) to safeguard the well-being of the lake and maintain the grounds around it. The PFBC is a department of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and is funded almost entirely through fishing license and boat registration fees. The PFBC receives very few tax dollars, if any. All PFBC rules and regulations apply to Glade Run Lake, including the fishing license requirement.
Since 1955, a number of improvements have been made to Glade Run Lake including construction of a boat launch ramp, fishing pier, and upgrades to the parking lot.
Lake Draining. In 2011, Glade Run Lake was drained due to a large crack discovered in the lake's dam during a routine inspection. Residents of the local community felt frustrated and saddened to see the 52-acre lake drained, a natural resource that attracted 16,000 visitors a year and drew about $1.2 million annually for the local economy. With an estimated bill of $4 million to fix the faulty dam (money the state did not have), little to no hope remained to ever see the lake return.
Neighbors of the lake got together to discuss the lake's closing and decided the only way to combat the situation was to form a group of concerned citizens and look at their options.
Glade Run Lake Conservancy. A citizens action group was formed in mid-August 2011 following the draining of Glade Run Lake that resulted in a series of grassroots activities and led to the formation of the Glade Run Lake Conservancy (GRLC).
Sigmund Pehel emerged as the leader of the GRLC, and soon after, a Board of Directors consisting of four officers and five directors formed. Their goal: bring back the lake. Fundraisers ensued, membership with the GRLC was advertised, and conversations with important officials were had, all in an effort to raise enough money to fix the dam. Then in 2014, after a significant amount of money had already been raised, Governor Corbett committed $2 million dollars in capital budget funds to restore Glade Run Lake. At the same time, the PFBC also committed $2 million dollars, accounting for the estimated $4 million needed. Finally, the GRLC's goal of bringing back the lake would become a reality.
In 2017, after all needed improvements had been made to the dam, water and fish were again returned to Glade Run Lake. Community members praised the efforts of the GRLC and are once again able to recreate and enjoy Glade Run Lake. With the initial goal of restoring the lake now completed, current goals of the GRLC including the creation of vibrant habitats for fish and wildlife, improving on-site facilities, and protecting in perpetuity the 2,000 acre watershed of Glade Run Lake.
The following video (courtesy of Reid Joyce) shows and tells the story of when the lake was drained, under construction, and re-filled once again. Make sure to turn your sound on when watching to hear Reid's narration.