Gathright Dam and Lake Moomaw

Published March 6, 2018

Gathright Dam's intake tower stands out in Lake Moomaw Oct. 13, 2010. The dam and Lake Moomaw Project provide flood protection of industrial, commerical and residential properties along the Jackson and James rivers with immediate impact on Covington, Va.
SLIDESHOW | 5 images | Gathright Dam located in Alleghany County, Va., impounds the water flowing down the Jackson River to create the 2,500 acre Lake Moomaw. The dam has prevented numerous floods over its 30 plus year existence saving countless dollars and lives. (U.S. Army Photo/Patrick Bloodgood)
Project scope
The Gathright Dam and Lake Moomaw Project provides flood protection of industrial, commercial and residential properties along the Jackson and James rivers with immediate impact on Covington, Virginia. Authorization Congress authorized construction of the dam and reservoir in the Flood Control Act of 1946. Background The dam is a rolled-rock fill embankment with a compacted earthen-clay core, outlet works and an emergency spillway located at the right abutment. The embankment is 1,310 feet long with a height of 257 feet. The width is 32 feet at the top of the dam with a maximum width of 1,000 feet at its base. Dam construction began in 1974 and was completed in 1979. Water impoundment began in December 1979 and was completed in April 1982.


As part of Norfolk District's comprehensive dam safety program, Gathright Dam has been inspected and monitored closely since it became operational in 1979. The dam's instrumentation monitors seepage, piezometric levels (internal seepage pressure), and horizontal and vertical movements of the dam crest. The dam is regularly inspected by facility staff, as well as Norfolk District engineers. Facility personnel inspect the dam daily under normal operating conditions and more frequently during high-pool levels. Norfolk District engineers inspect the dam at least annually, with more intensive team inspections every five years through the USACE Dam Safety Program.

The pool of record elevation is 1,598.4 feet, reached Jan. 20, 1996. The lake's normal pool conservation is 1,582 feet above sea level.

Fishing below Gathright Dam

Below Gathright Dam, six public areas provide access to 18 miles of legally navigable water to Covington. 
Permission is not required from Norfolk District to fish in those public areas.
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries has maps to Jackson River public access sites, as well as private/off limits portions of the river.