From the Annals of Flood Control – In 1965, the Army Corps of Engineers began the deliberate impoundment at Sam Rayburn Reservoir. Construction on the reservoir had begun in 1956 at which time the project was known as “McGee Bend Dam and Reservoir”, because of its’ location immediately upstream from McGee Bend on the river. In September, 1963, the 88th Congress adopted a special resolution changing the name to “Sam Rayburn Dam and Reservoir”, in honor of the recently deceased Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Sam Rayburn, a long-time champion of soil and water conservation.
The dam is an 20,000 foot earth embankment with a concrete power-intake structure and flood-control outlet works located near the right end of the dam. SRR can store up to 4,442,400 acre feet of water encompassing a surface area of 153,800 acres. At top of flood control pool, elevation 173 feet above mean sea level, the reservoir can hold 3,997,600 acre feet of water encompassing a surface area of about 142,700 acres.