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Lake Martin, Alabama

  • 3125

Located in the Alabama counties of Tallapoosa, Elmore and Coosa, Lake Martin cover approximately 40,000 acres, with a 750-mile wooded shoreline. As one of the largest man-made lakes in Alabama, Lake Martin was formed by the construction of Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River, which was initiated in 1923 and completed in 1926. At the time of its construction, Lake Martin was the largest man-made lake in the world. The dam was originally named Cherokee Bluffs in reference to the geological formation (a deep gorge with high rock cliffs on both sides) upon which it was built, but was renamed in 1936 for Thomas W. Martin, the then-president of Alabama Power Company (1920 to 1949). The Tallapoosa River, along with major tributaries, including the Kowaliga Creek, Big and Little Sandy Creeks, and Blue Creek feed Lake Martin.


Many hundreds of years ago, the Creek Indians lived in Creek towns along the Tallapoosa Watershed, which served as a source of food and transportation. They called themselves Muscogees, a name in the Muskogean language that  identifies them as a people inhabiting land that was wet or prone to flooding. In 1832, the Creek Indian nation ceded its territory to the U.S. Government, which created the county called Tallapoosa. Soon after, white settlers migrated to the ceded area, many of whom became planters and farmers.


Lake Martin has long been called the "Pearl of Alabama" and is also commonly referred to as Alabama’s crown jewel. It is the cleanest lake in Alabama, with crystal clear waters. There are several islands on Lake Martin, including the most commonly known islands of Chimney Rock, Doctor's Island, Goat Island, Acapulco Rock Island, Chimney Rock Island, Graveyard Island, Sand Island, Weed Hill Island, Young’s Island, Wood’s Island and Real Island.


The Tallapoosa watershed that encompasses Lake Martin has a diversity of plant and animal life. Flora include shoal lilies, Alabama canebrake pitcher plant and the green pitcher plant, both of which are two of Alabama’s endangered plants. Aquatic animal life comprises of the Great Blue Heron, Tallapoosa darter, pygmy sculpin, alligator snapping turtle and the tulotoma snail.


Lake Martin and its vicinity is also a vibrant and popular recreation spot, which offers up natural sand beaches for swimming, bird watching, hiking, boating, fishing, water skiing and camping. It also hosts events throughout the year, from fishing tournaments, a fireworks show on the Fourth of July, to the Alexander City Jazz Festival in June.

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