The Lake

In the early 1900’s Milton Township was the most sparsely populated of all Mahoning County Townships but it was destined to become a most important subdivision with the development of the Milton Lake property. Downstream, the City of Youngstown was using the Mahoning River as both an industrial and domestic water supply. By 1906 this growing city was experiencing water shortages. The idea was born to create a reservoir upstream thus enabling some control over the flow of the Mahoning River. In 1908, Youngstown began purchasing land in Berlin Township. By 1910, land speculators now aware of the city’s plan for a reservoir drove the price of land up forcing Youngstown to abandon its Berlin land purchase. From 1911 to 1913, Youngstown executed its Milton land acquisition of 3,416 acres. The building of Milton Dam began in 1913 and by its completion in 1917 the city had spent $787,000 for this 1,685 acre lake. All was well until 1925 when the State Health Department condemned the water of the Mahoning River as it flowed through Youngstown as unsafe to drink. Plans were immediately put into place for a new domestic water supply and the Meander Reservoir, 10 miles east of Milton, was completed in 1932. Milton Dam still had an important job to do as it continued to control the flow of water to the vast industrial complexes downstream. So important in fact that during WWII a guard was posted at the dam to insure our nations steel production was not interrupted. As an extra precaution, Berlin Lake was formed upstream in 1943. During the next 40 years under the watchful eye of the Army Corp of Engineers and later the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, inspections and upgrades were made to the dam as deemed necessary to insure its stabilization. By 1984 there was little doubt the dam was failing. In early 1986, Milton Dam was breached and a lush green growth began to fill its bed. Youngstown relinquished control of the dam to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources began construction of a brand new dam which it completed in 1988. The dam is 2840 feet in total length. The west wing is 325 feet, and the east wing is 1837 feet, each of these earthen concrete covered wings have an average base width of 160 feet. The center cement portion is 678 feet in length with a base width of 60 feet. There are four 36” gates which control this gravity fed dam. The crest of the dam is 951 feet above sea level with the optimum summer pool being 948 feet above sea level. Compare this with the Mahoning River in Youngstown at 839 feet or Lake Erie at 571 feet above sea level. Lake Milton is Ohio’s 72nd State Park. It was officially dedicated in June of 1988. The park consists of 1685 acres of water and 1171 acres of land.