A visit to Lake Jericho

The lake was created in 1969 by
the formation of a watershed

By Don Ward

SMITHFIELD, Ky. (August 2003) – In Larry Ramsey’s opinion, local residents have long overlooked the amenities of Henry County’s Lake Jericho. One of the 137-acre lakes best features is its relaxed, family atmosphere, he said.

Lake Jericho

File photo

An aerial view of Lake Jericho.

Ramsey had worked at the lake five years before assuming his full-time position as manager of the recreational area 18 years ago. Many residents hold the old saying true that the grass is greener on the other side, said Ramsey. People who have lived in the area all of their lives may not realize that a valuable resource is right under their noses at 1317 Lake Access Road in Smithfield, Ky.
The Lake Jericho Recreational Area opened to the public on July 25, 1969. Since then it has offered bank fishing, picnic areas with grills and tables, two shelters with restrooms, and camping. There are 62 RV sites with electric and water hookups, and a dump station and shower house.
Ramsey’s wife, Carolyn, helps in the day-to-day operation of the lake. Ramsey said the facility has seen a lot of business from Louisville in the last couple of years, but more locals are slowly becoming aware of the opportunity right on their back doorstep. “It has an atmosphere very few places have.”
It is the perfect outdoor setting for family reunions, company picnics and church outings. Two shelters with restrooms can be reserved or are available on a first come basis.
Many RVs remain at the lake year-round, their owners returning each year to take advantage of the recreational area. Phil Shepard lived at the lake for a time and still returns often because, “It’s quiet and relaxing. It’s a reality-check.” Shepard can unwind at the lake and take a break from the normal fast-paced environment most people live in.
The eight-member Little Kentucky River Watershed Conservancy District Board operates the recreational area. “The lake originated as a flood retarding structure,” said Ramsey.
In the late 1950s, recurring flooding resulted in thousands of acres of damaged cropland in Trimble and Henry counties. The Trimble and Henry County Conservation Districts partnered with each county’s Fiscal Court and Soil Conservation Service (SCS) to develop a project that would protect residents in the watershed from future damage.
A board of directors was formed from landowners within the watershed area to oversee activities in the area. The board borrowed money and designed and built the recreational area, said Ramsey.
A total of five flood-retarding structures were installed by the conservation service throughout the watershed for a total cost of $1.7 million. Lake Jericho is the largest of the five lakes and open year-round. The watershed board, a sub-district of the local county conservation districts, supervises Ramsey.
Three Trimble County and five Henry County members comprise the Little Kentucky River Watershed Conservancy District. Karen Bess Smith is one of them.
Smith said the board is supportive of looking at the quality and overall aspects in the watershed area. For the third year, the Kentucky Division of Conservation has awarded a $7,500 environmental grant to use towards watershed education. It will fund a variety of necessary factors involved in water quality testing, such as gathering data and raising awareness about the river in local schools and communities, and ongoing studies.
Ramsey said he “grew up in the middle” of this area. His enthusiasm for working outdoors and his knowledge of the conditions surrounding the lake and the watershed district enable him to effectively oversee the lake. He is familiar with what it was and what is has become.
In addition to lots of bank fishing, Ramsey sells bait and rents 14-foot Jon boats. There is no limit on boat size. Shepard said the lake is well stocked with catfish and crappie, in addition to largemouth bass and bluegill.
To aid bank fishermen, a No Wake Speed is strictly enforced. Shepard said, “You don’t see people on the lake at fast speeds. This would break the serenity of the area.”
Shepard said the lake’s rates are comparable and even better than what is charged at some of the bigger campgrounds. As a testimony to the lakes’ popularity, Ramsey said the RV lot is “packed all of the time.”
Lake Jericho opens at daylight and closes at dark. A daily admission fee of $1.50 for ages 12 and older and $1 for children ages 6-11 is charged. This fee is used in combination with camping and boating fees to maintain and operate the facility.

For more information, contact Ramsey at (502) 743-5205 or visit: www.henrycountykentucky.com./community/LKJericho.htm for rates.

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