A brief overview of Buchanan Dam, Texas

Buchanan Dam

Buchanan Dam

The Buchanan Dam is located on the south bank of Lake Buchanan and is accessible through State Highway 29; Llano of Llano County is around eighteen miles away. The Dam is built on a former construction camp that built the first major flood-control and hydroelectric facilities on the Colorado River.

The Dam project was initially named Bluffton Dam due to its vicinity to the town of Bluffton; however it was renamed as Hamilton Dam perhaps due to the surveyor of the Dam, one engineer named Hamilton other theories include it being named after G.W. Hamilton, the then vice-president of West Utility Company based in Chicago, the company was representative for Mr Samuel Insull whose was involved in development and distribution of electricity in the state of Texas.

The Dam’s construction was undertaken by Emery-Peck and Rockwood Development Company in 1931, the company brought in several hundred workers and set up facilities like postal, medical commercial and recreational. The company went bankrupt in the year 1932 and the project was shelved; however Congressman James Paul Buchanan secured government funds and reanimated the project in 1934 which led to the name of the Dam, town and its facilities being changed in honour of the Congressman.

The completed Dam was inaugurated on October 16, 1937. Buchanan Town prospered as a recreational centre and was inhabited by more than 1000 by the year 1974, there several enterprises in the Town. By 1990 the population had grown to 1099 and by 2000 it had reached to 1688.

About Buchanan Dam

The Buchanan Dam on the Colorado River, Texas and is a multiple arch dam. The Dam created the Lake Buchanan and was the first completed dam in the series of dams which form the Texas Highland Lakes. The Dam generates power and serves as a flood control. Burnet, Texas is around 12 miles to the east.

A brief history of Buchanan Dam

Old Bridge in Buchanan Dam Texas

Old Bridge in Buchanan Dam Texas

The Dam project was formerly called Hamilton Dam, after George W. Hamilton by the construction company run by Samuel Insull and was started in 1931; however, the project came to an abrupt due to the Company going bankrupt during the great Depression. The project was still only half finished.

The Texas state Legislature entrusted the Lower Colorado River Authority to complete the Hamilton Dam in 1934. The Dam was completed in 1937, the name was changed to Buchanan Dam to honour U.S. Congressman James P. Buchanan, who got government funding for the project.

Bluffton town beginning in 1931 was relocated to make way for the construction of the Dam and it took around eight years for the relocation to complete. The abandoned town site re-emerged in 2011 due to fall in water level due to a severe drought.

The flood of 1938 led to criticisms of the Dam which was accused of being a failure for not being able to stop the flood in downstream area but the criticisms were countered by pointing out that the Dam was only the first of a chain of four dams which would be able to stop flooding only after all of them were constructed.


Name: Buchanan Dam

Location: Burnet / Llano County, Texas, USA

Coordinates: 30°45′05″N 98°25′06″WCoordinates: 30°45′05″N 98°25′06″W

Started: 1931

Completed: 1937

Operator: Lower Colorado River Authority

Dam and Spillways

Impounds: Colorado River

Height: 145.5 feet

Length: 10,987.6 feet

Width (base): 215.1 feet


Creates: Lake Buchanan

Power Station

Turbines: 3

Installed capacity: 47.8 MW


If you are interested in Real Estate in the Texas Hill Country, please feel free to contact Tom Ashworth at (208)830-7991/




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