Pine Lake State Park is a state park of Iowa, USA, located in Marion County. The park has an area of 1,073 acres (430ha). It lies between the towns of Anamosa and Pella. The lake itself is 200 acres (81ha) with an average depth of only 57 feet (1.52.1m). The dam which creates it is 181 feet (55m) high and 2,800 feet (840m) long. Built during the Great Depression by the young men of CCC camps SP-8-PA and TP-5-PA, work on the dam began in June 1934 and was completed in July 1935. The land encompassed by the park was purchased by the state for $4 million, of which the city of Pella paid $2 million and the county paid $1 million. At the time it was created, the lake covered 357 acres (143ha).
Since then, the size of the lake has grown to 603 acres (209ha). The shoreline length is 3,300 acres (1,400ha). There are 13 miles (21km) of paved roads within the park. There are 18 miles (29km) of gravel roads. Some of these roads connect with each other and others run completely independent of each other, but all are usable by four-wheel drive vehicles. There are 4 miles (6.4km) of hiking trails. These trail connect with other public lands, including Big Creek State Forest, Silver Lake State Recreation Area, and private property along the East Fork of the Pella River. There is also a 30-mile (50km) canoe/walk trail that begins and ends in Pine Lake State Park.
Canoes can be rented at any of the parks boat docks. Boats are not provided, so you must bring your own. No pets are allowed on the trails or in the campgrounds. Horses allowed on certain designated trails. There are three equestrian camping areas. Each has picnic tables and vault toilets available. Waterfowl hunting is permitted in season in the marshy areas of the park. Fishermen may access the waters of the lake using electric motors. Gasoline powered boats are prohibited. Sailboats, rowboats, canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats are available to rent. Only outboard motors under 20hp are permitted.
All boats must have current registration with any state. Non-powered boats may either have a hand-launcher or mooring ring mounted on them, or both. Boat docks are found around the perimeter of the lake. Toilets, vending machines, playground equipment, modern showers, and lighted fishing areas are accessible year round. Campsites open on a reservation basis starting Memorial Day weekend and close Labor Day weekend. Half of the sites are available on a first come, first served basis. The remainder require reservations made in advance. Reservations can be booked through the park reservation system online, via phone, or at the park offices.
Sites range from very simple to fairly complex. Most have some type of shelter, often a tent, but some allow for full hookups with electricity and water. Modern shower houses with hot water are common. Restrooms facilities are available at several locations around the campground. The campground opens on March 15 and closes on November 30. Advance campsite reservations can be booked through the park reservation system. Walk-in sites are available on a first come, first served basis. The campground host provides basic services like restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities. He also manages the walk-in camp sites. There are ten cabins ranging from rustic to fully equipped. The rustic cabins feature a single bunk bed, table, chairs, and small cooking stove. The semi-modern cabins offer more space and amenities like heat and air conditioning. The deluxe cabins are even larger and offer a futon sofa, countertop, microwave, refrigerator, stove, and bathtub.
The lodge offers a meeting room, indoor pool, and outdoor deck. The lodge is used for family reunions, company picnics, wedding receptions and similar events. The marina features 160 seasonal horsepower limit for those 16 years or older, 140 for youth ages 13 & 15, 90 for kids 12 and under, and 50 for those 11 and under. Boat slips are available on a first come, first served basis. The marina includes a ramp for launching boats into the water, a fish cleaning station, a tackle shop, gas station, snack bar, and restroom facilities. Canoes, kayaks, and paddleboats can be reserved for hourly or daily usage. If not occupied, the boats can be left overnight in the dry dock.
Construction started on the south spillway, which was finished in September 1936. The north spillway, which carries half as much water, was built at the same time. Flood control for the Mississippi River was one purpose of building the dam. Another was to provide drinking water for residents of the region. When the dam was finished, there was great celebration throughout the community. Residents could finally enjoy their first non-winter thaw without fear of flooding. On January 21, 1937 President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the reservoir and spillway “for public use as a source of water to be applied to beneficial uses for domestic, industrial, and other purposes.”
In August 1942, nearly 900 German prisoners of war were assigned to build sandstone breakwaters near the mouth of the river. They worked under the supervision of two German POWs who had been inmates at Spandau prison before being captured. Their work ended in May 1944; however many of these prisoners would go on to serve elsewhere in the war. A total of 14 nations contributed personnel to this project. Two countries supplied more than one ship each. Eighteen different units of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers participated in some capacity in the construction or operation of the facility.
Units that contributed workers or materials included the following: Company 860, Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), arrived in Pella on April 7, 1934 where they remained until October 17, 1938 when the camp closed. During its time in Pella, eight barracks housed over 300 CCC workers. Other buildings include a dining hall, recreation hall, garage, office, hospital, school, bakery, meat house, fire station, and storehouse. Camp SP-8-PA was established in 1939 just outside Pella. Its primary mission was to establish a site for a Recreational Demonstration Area. This involved filling in part of the lake and constructing facilities such as roads, bridges, parking areas, etc. The camp served as a base for flood control activities in 1940 and 1941.
After World War II veterans were welcomed home from service in 1946, attention returned to the recreational area. Work began on the swimming beach in late 1947 and concluded in mid-1948 when the camp closed. Camp TP-5-PA was set up in 1948 across the river from Camp SP-8-PA. Like most CCC camps, TP-5-PA offered a variety of jobs including road construction, firefighting, park development, and residential housing. Unlike SP-8-PA, TP-5-PA operated through the winter season because local officials encouraged businesses to locate in the rural area. Camp SP-8-PA was decommissioned in 1955 and transferred to the jurisdiction of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources in 1957. Pine Lake State Park officially opened on June 5, 1960.
The main attraction at Pine Lake State Park is the large population of:
- largemouth bass
- bullhead catfish
- northern pike
- yellow perch
- red fox squirrel