Notable dates at the lake

The Johnson Lake Grass & Leaf Dump:

May 1st – Sunday before Thanksgiving
Friday, Saturday, Sunday 12 pm – 5 pm
LAST DAY the Sunday before Thanksgiving
For more information regarding the Johnson Lake Grass & Leaf Dump, click here.

Thank You!

Elwood/Johnson Lake Guide

Lake History

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Historical Insight...Johnson Lake


Johnson Lake was originally a low-lying area when construction began in 1939. Named for George E. Johnson, Central's chief engineer during construction of the hydro-irrigation project and general manager from 1935 to 1946.


The lake, which covers about 2,500 surface acres, is one of the most popular recreational lakes in central Nebraska. The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission leased 50 acres of land adjacent to the lake in 1945 and created what is now the Johnson Lake State Recreation Area, the heart of the four-lake complex on the Tri-County Canal.


Fishermen discovered the lake almost immediately after it was formed. Powerboats, virtually unknown in central Nebraska before the hydro-irrigation project was built, became more popular in the 1950s and water-skiing soon became a popular recreational activity.


The cabin development at the lake began with small structures to serve as fishing huts. Larger cabins soon followed and the 11-mile shoreline became lined with cabins by the late 1960s. There are now almost 900 homes and cabins at the lake.


The lake also features a swimming beach on the southeast side of the lake and public boat ramps.


An 18-hole public golf course is located below the dam on the south side of the lake.


Marinas and other concessionaire provide a full range of services and supplies at Johnson Lake.