Lake Jericho Recreation Area

Lake Jericho offers anglers
and campers a local paradise

By Laraine Staples
Contributing Writer

SMITHFIELD, Ky – For those who don't want to let go of the summer fun just yet, there's a serene place just a half mile from I-71 in Henry County worth visiting.
Lake Jericho is open year-round and offers visitors fishing, picnicking, camping and boating.

Lake Jericho

Photo by Laraine Staples;
Aerial photography courtesy of Terry Ginn

From the air, Lake Jericho's expansive
layout spreads out into the horizon.
The lake was created in the 1950s
as a way to help prevent flooding
of nearby farm land.

The lake was created in the late 1950s after recurring flooding of the Little Kentucky River damaged thousands of acres of cropland in Henry and Trimble counties. The town of Sulphur was under water and many homes were lost.
The the counties' Conservation Districts worked with the fiscal courts and the Soil Conservation Service to develop a project that would protect residents in this watershed from future damage. Landowners within the watershed formed a board of directors to oversee the activities. Five flood-retarding structures were installed throughout the watershed at a cost of $1.7 million.
One of those structures, Lake Jericho, was also designed as a recreation area. The largest of the five lakes, Lake Jericho covers 136 surface acres and sits on 400 acres. Around 40,000 people visit the lake annually, producing close to $100,000 in revenue each year, according to park manager Larry Ramsey.
Ramsey runs the lake under the auspices of the watershed board. In addition to income from Lake Jericho receipts, the Conservancy District receives revenue from a millage tax imposed on land within the watershed that helps to operate and maintain all five structures.
Although the campground will be closing Nov. 1, the rest of the park will remain open for fishing and picnicking.
"We get a lot of first-timers here," Ramsey said. "First time campers, frst time fishermen, first time boaters."
Ramsey joked that he didn't know which was worse – the fish hook stuck in the forehead or the slimy worm wiggling between the eyes.
"We have people casting under trees, tents without poles, boats without gas, and the list goes on," he said. "We even had one guy propose to his wife in a most unusual way. He tied her engagement ring to the end of his line and threw it out. Pretending to have a bite he let her reel it in. I hope they are still each other's best catch."
Ramsey's wife, Carolyn, helps him manage the facility, along with James Hoagland and Allen Seivers.
"We all get along real well, and this place is a way life, not just a job," Ramsey said. "We work a lot of hours, but have a lot of fun and take a lot of pride in what we have here."
The couple live on the property and have raised two children there. They see many repeat customers each year. Some campers have been spending summers at Lake Jericho every year for the past 30 years. Others have been transferred to the area to work at the Ford plant or the nearby landfill and will stay for several months at a time. Jericho allows campers to stay from April I to Nov. 1.
Lake Jericho invites boaters but there is a "no wake" speed over the entire lake. The boat launch fee is $3. They also rent rowboats for $12 per day.
Jericho offers tent camping right next to the lake and has 62 electrical sites with a shower, restroom and a dumping station. Camping is $12 per night for two adults, with a limit of six adults per campsite. Adult day visitors pay $1.50, children 6-11 pay $1 and under 6 are free.
Many reunions are held at the shelters. They can accommodate up to 600 people, but most reunions average around 70 to 100 guests. Shelters may be reserved.
Fishing licenses are required but are not sold at the lake. There is a bait shop on the grounds, and state regulations for fishing are enforced. Fishing hours are from 6:30 a.m. until dark.
To maintain a quiet, family atmosphere, there are several rules: no alcoholic beverages, no motorcycles, no swimming, no chronic barking by pets, which are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times.
So next time you need a quick and convenient recreational getaway, spend a day at Lake Jericho – Henry County's best kept secret.

Back to October 1999 Articles.



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