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The Dam

Type rolled earth fill
Length, ft. (overall) 10,600
Height, ft. (above streambed) 101
Width, ft. (crown) 30
Width, ft. (base) 800
Emergency Spillway Uncontrolled chute

Distance from Surrounding Areas

From Rathbun Dam to:
Albia, IA-18 miles
Cedar Rapids, IA-141 miles
Centerville, IA-9 miles
Chariton, IA-44 miles
Columbia, MO-158 miles
Corydon, IA-29 miles
Davenport, IA-173 miles
Des Moines, IA-85 miles
Kansas City, MO-185 miles
Omaha, NE-200 miles
St. Louis, MO-280 miles
Waterloo, IA-144 miles


The Rathbun Lake area has a variable climate of moderate winters and comparatively long summers. The humid climate characteristic of the mid-continent region has wide variations in temperature and rainfall, occasional high winds and cyclonic disturbances. Average annual precipitation varies from 32 to 38 inches from the north to south, in the Chariton River Basin. The long term mean precipitation at Centerville, Iowa is about 33 inches. About 70% of the annual precipitation occurs during the 180 day growing season, April through September. Snowfall generally occurs from November through March and averages 25.2 inches per year. The mean Monthly temperature is 51 degrees Fahrenheit. Recorded temperatures have ranged from -25 degrees to +104 degrees. Winds are predominately from the south during the summer and north to northwest in the winter. March, April and May are the months of highest sustained wind readings. Evaporation from the reservoir surface averages 37 inches per year.

Historical Time-Line

1954 The construction of Rathbun Dam and Reservoir was authorized by the Flood Control Act

1964 Construction of the dam and embankment began
1969 Operation as a multi-purpose unit began
1970 The top of multi-purpose pool (904 msl) was reached
1971 The dedication of Rathbun lake was held on July 31st with President Richard Nixon being the ........keynote speaker. Iowa Governor Robert Ray, Senator Jack Miller and Congressman John Kyl ........also attended the dedication
1996 25th Rathbun Lake Anniversary
2001 30th Rathbun Lake Anniversary
2006 Earth-moving for Honey Creek Resort State Park
2008 Grand Opening at Honey Creek Resort State Park


© 2011 Rathbun Lake Association

The mission of the Rathbun Lake Association is to enhance the safe use and enjoyment of Rathbun Lake through education,
information,and promotion in cooperation with our membership, while preserving Rathbun Lake as a natural resource for all Iowans.

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