Lady Bird Lake, also known as Town Lake, is a river-like reservoir located in Austin, Texas. The city of Austin funded the creation of the reservoir in 1960 as a cooling pond for the city power plant. The lake has a 416 acres surface, and it is now used as a place for recreation and flood control. Lady Bird Lake’s name is nod to former first lady of the United States, Lady Bird Johnson. In this article, we will know more about the history of Lady Bird Lake and the things you can do while you’re there.
When the City of Austin constructed the Longhorn Dam in 1960 so that they could form Town Lake. This is because the city needed a reservoir that will serve as a cooling pond of the Holly Street Power Plant, which operated from 1960 to 2007.
Before the Town Lake was formed, it shoreline was mostly unkempt bushes, weeds, and trash. In fact, a local TV station even called the lake an eyesore. That is why the people of Austin decided to start small projects to clean up Town Lake. The chair of the Austin Board of Parks and Recreation, Roberta Crenshaw, decided to purchase 400 shrubs and trees to help lead parkland development around the lake. The then-mayor of Austin, Roy Butler, decided to establish the Town Lake Beautification Committee, and he selected Lady Bird Johnson as its honorary chairman. Johnson helped bring attention and money to the project, giving way to plant more trees and shrubs. Along with this, Austin also built bike and hike trails along the lake’s shoreline.
In July 2007, the Austin City Council decided to pass a resolution authorizing the reservoir’s renaming from Town Lake to Lady Bird Lake after Lady Bird Johnson. This move showed that the city recognized Johnson’s effort and dedication to beautifying the lake and creating a recreational trail system around the lake’s shoreline.
Recreational Activities in Lady Bird Lake
Lady Bird Lake is considered to be one of the major recreation areas in the City of Austin. The banks of the lake are surrounded by the Ann and Roy Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail. Aside from that, some businesses offer other recreational watercraft services on the lakefront part of the trail. The Ziker Park, which is Austin’s largest downtown park, is located adjacent to the lake. The city does not allow the use of motorized watercraft on Lady Bird Lake, so it is more popular as a lake where you can go kayaking, paddleboarding, and rowing shells.
As much as it is tempting to do, swimming in Lady Bird Lake is illegal because there were several drowning accidents and debris in the water that came from dams and bridges destroyed by floods over the past few years. The City of Austin banned swimming in the lake since 1964, and anyone who disobeys can be fined up to $500.
There are also music venues that are located on the banks of Lady Bird Lake. That is why it is home too several events that take place all-year-round, such as the Austin Reggae Festival, Austin City Limits Music Festival, and the Spamarama.
You can also go hiking and biking at the Ann and Roy Butler trail, which creates aa complete circuit around the lake. This trail is the longest non-motorized traffic that the City of Austin maintains. Aside from being a hiking and biking trail, it also offers several other amenities such as exercise equipment, lakefront gathering areas, and trailheads.
You can also go fishing at Lady Bird Lake because it has been stocked with different fish species that help improve the reservoir for recreational fishing. Some of the fish that you can find here are catfish, largemouth bass, sunfish, and carps. However, keep in mind that fishing in Lady Bird Lake is regulated, and you need to have a fishing license. There is also a ban on consuming the fish caught in the lake because of excessively high levels of chlordane found in the fish.