How Wide Is Alabama’s Lake Martin?

Written by Mitchelle Morgan
Updated: July 19, 2023
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Did you know that Lake Martin spans three counties in Alabama? The lake is located in Coosa, Elmore, and Tallapoosa Counties. It’s one of the largest reservoirs in the area, thanks to the construction of Martin Dam.

Lake Martin in Alabama

Lake Martin in Alabama covers 41,150 acres and has 880 miles of shoreline.

©Inch And A Yard/

In 1923, the construction of Martin Dam on the Tallapoosa River enlarged the lake. Lake Martin is a large man-made water body. Martin Dam is named after Thomas Martin, president of the Alabama Power Company in 1936.

How Wide is Lake Martin?

This incredible lake was once the largest manmade lake in the USA.

Alabama’s Lake Martin is 41,150 acres wide and has 880 miles of shoreline. As mentioned earlier, the man-made lake covers three countries. Construction of Martin Dam started in 1923 and was completed in 1926. Since then, Lake Martin has been part of the Alabama landscape.

The Martin Dam is 168 feet high, 155 feet deep, and is on the Tallapoosa River. It has a floodgate capacity of 3,016,000 gallons of water. Fifteen percent of the total drainage area for this lake is found in Georgia.

Is Lake Martin the Largest Manmade Lake in the United States?

Once upon a time, Lake Martin was not only the largest man-made lake in the U.S. but also the largest in the world. But times have changed, and there are now larger water reservoirs nationwide. At the moment, Lake Martin is the third largest lake in Alabama.

Below is a table showcasing the 10 largest man-made lakes in the U.S.

#1Lake MeadNevada28,945,000 acre-feet
#2Lake PowellArizona26,214,900 acre-feet
#3Lake SakakaweaNorth Dakota24,300,000 acre-feet
#4Lake OaheSouth Dakota23,500,000 acre-feet
#5Fort Peck LakeMontana19,100,000 acre-feet
#6Lake RooseveltWashington9,562,000 acre-feet
#7Lake CumberlandKentucky6,089,000 acre-feet
#8Lake KoocanusaMontana5,869,200 acre-feet
#9Shasta LakeCalifornia4,552,000 acre-feet
#10Toledo Bend LakeLouisiana & Texas4,472,900 acre-feet

What is Lake Martin Known for?

Folks living and visiting Alabama will enjoy spending time at Lake Martin. It’s one of the most popular recreational areas in the state, with loads of fun activities.

Bring your swimwear when you plan to spend a day at the Lake Martin shoreline. Folks visiting the area will enjoy boating, fishing, swimming, golfing, and camping. There’s also a lake community full of lake houses.

Apart from enjoying the waters, there are other events you can attend at Lake Martin. Local organizers put together fishing tournaments and other social gatherings. There’s even a massive fireworks display each year on the 4th of July.

One of the best landmarks you can spot in the area is the Kowaliga Bridge. There’s also Chimney Rock and the massive Martin Dam.

Once you exhaust water activities, check out the natural trails around Lake Martin. Go exploring and try to spot the wildlife that lives in and around the water reservoir.

Is Lake Martin a Good Place to Live?

Lake Martin offers a pristine environment for families seeking a quiet and lovely way of life. The surrounding nature brings a touch of tranquility. There are even homes along the waterfront, offering amazing views.

What Animals Live in and Around Lake Martin?

Lake Martin is a sanctuary for lots of interesting fauna. Here, you can come across different types of birds, fish, and other animals. Below are some of the most popular animals in and around Lake Martin.

1. Black-Crowned Night Heron

The areas around Lake Martin are the perfect habitat for the black-crowned night heron. They prefer shorelines with vast spaces of wetlands where they find food easily. The night herons love to eat small fish, amphibians, and insects.

A night heron waiting for a fish to swim in Lake Martin.

You can see a black-crowned night heron near Lake Martin.

©Nycticorax nycticorax/

The male is tasked with finding materials to build a nest. After he finds a sturdy twig or stick, he gives it to the female to add to the nest. A typical night heron nest can measure 12-18 inches. The female will lay three to eight eggs per season.

2. Snowy Egret

Lake Martin is also a great place to spot the snowy egret. These birds have long slender bodies and all-white feathers. They are present in North America and numerous other parts of the world.

Areas with wetlands, mashes, and bogs are perfect for the snowy egret. They stay away from extremely cold conditions and can enjoy both saltwater and freshwater habitats. One interesting fact about the snowy egret is they prefer to feed in flocks rather than as individuals.

3. White Ibis

White ibis are present in all continents, including North America, and are a common bird species around Lake Martin. Their color depends on their feeding habits and habitat.

These birds are excellent at wading the waters to catch fish and other food sources like insects. White ibis are social birds that prefer to live in large flocks. They rest at night and are active during the day, searching for food.

4. Water Moccasin

Being on the lookout in and around Lake Martin is important because venomous water moccasins are present in this area.

Water moccasins, or cottonmouths, belong to the pit viper category and are dangerous. They have long fangs that deliver deadly venom.

They are semi-aquatic snakes, meaning they prefer living in both water and land. These snakes aren’t aggressive but will bite if provoked.

5. Great Blue Heron

The great blue heron is present at Lake Martin and can be quite a majestic site. Though it appears to be a large bird, you may be surprised that the blue heron only weighs six pounds. Its wingspan can spread up to 7 feet, and it can live for many years.

While other birds prefer to nest on the ground or in marshy areas, the great blue heron builds a nest in trees. They prefer to wade in shallow waters for fish, insects, and amphibians.

The great blue heron can lay up to seven eggs per cycle. Both males and females take turns incubating until they hatch. Incubation lasts between 25 to 30 days, and the young start practicing flying after 60 days.

6. Wild Turkey

Do you want to see some wild turkeys in Alabama? Head over to Lake Martin, and you might encounter these lovely creatures.

Wild turkeys are common inhabitants of North America and love forested areas. The gobble of the males can alert you of their presence from miles away. Another interesting fact is wild turkeys can fly, unlike domestic turkeys found at home.

An adult wild turkey can be 30-49 inches long and weigh up to 24 pounds. The males are bigger than the females, with more feathers covering their bodies. Male wild turkeys also have featherless heads that appear reddish.

7. Hummingbird

Hummingbirds are also inhabitants of the surroundings of Lake Martin. They are lovely little birds that don’t weigh much. Still, they serve a great purpose to nature, and they can fly backwards!

In the wild, female hummingbirds only lay about three eggs per brood. They will have a maximum of two broods per year. Moms get to incubate the eggs for up to 14 days before they hatch.

Do not approach hummingbird nests, since the birds can be a bit aggressive. They prefer to shoo predators and intruders away and fiercely protect their nests.

These tiny birds love sucking the nectar from flowers. Hummingbirds will also feed from sugar water that people leave out to attract them.

8. Largemouth Bass

Lake Martin is home to the largemouth bass. Here is an example of a fish whose name and appearance go hand in hand. The largemouth bass has a large mouth that acts as a suction when looking for food.

Largemouth bass are common in North America. They prefer freshwater bodies but aren’t too popular because of their mushy meat. Still, their aggressive nature poses a good challenge for fishermen.

9. Channel Catfish

Fishing is permitted in Lake Martin, where you might catch a channel catfish. They live in freshwater habitats and are a delicacy. Many people enjoy catching channel catfish to cook at home.

One of the easiest ways to identify a channel catfish is by the forked tail and sensory barbels. Males turn black during spawning and have thick pads on their heads. They feed on small fish, insects, larvae, mollusks, and crayfish.

10. Striped Bass

Fishermen at Lake Martin can also catch the striped bass. They live in freshwater and are common sport fish.

Striped bass have elongated bodies and tend to have shades of silver on their sides. They can be black, blue, olive, or green.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Miller Dark / CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons – License / Original

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About the Author

Mitchelle is a content writer who loves nature. She loves writing about animals and plants. In her free time, she enjoys hiking and going for nature walks.

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