After nearly five years of waiting, Speedwell Forge Lake was refilled earlier this year and is once again open to the public. This 106-acre man-made lake holds a special place in the hearts of many Lancastrians.
A sad feeling came over Lancaster when the lake had to be drained following flooding from Tropical Storm Lee in September 2011. The massive storm sent water surging down Hammer Creek towards the dam that was already at the top of the state’s high-risk list. The lake is owned by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but despite being home to the Fish and Boat Commission’s regional office, the damage to the dam made it entirely too risky for nearby residents. Ultimately a decision was made. In the rush to avoid disaster, the lake was drained. Unfortunately, officials had no idea when – or even if – the lake would ever reopen.
Initially, the Fish and Boat Commission did not have the funds necessary to repair the dam. That is when the Save Speedwell group was born.
With a love of the lake and a passion to see it restored, these hopeful citizens banded together to see this project become a top priority for local lawmakers. Given the magnitude of the project, it was obvious they would be in it for the long haul. However, their determination finally paid off and at the end of 2015, the dam was not only replaced, but also improved with modern engineering to ensure that such a situation will not occur for many years to come.
What makes this area so special? Every great day at Speedwell Forge Lake begins with the first signs of dawn. Whether you’re hiking, fishing, kayaking or bird watching, this is one of the best locations in the county to observe nature’s beauty. Listen carefully as the sun dips below the horizon in the evening because you’re likely to hear a long howl that sets off a symphony of wolves over at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA, which is located near the northeast end of the lake and shares the property with Speedwell Forge Bed and Breakfast on Speedwell Forge Road. Also located in this area is the Speedwell Forge County Park, which is owned and operated by the County of Lancaster and is comprised of more than 400 acres of natural area between the lake and the wooded State Game Lands of the nearby Furnace Hills.
If you haven’t made it to Speedwell Forge this summer, the cooler days of autumn may provide you with the perfect opportunity before we make our way into winter. This section of Lancaster County is stunningly beautiful and, thanks to the hard work of so many local residents, Speedwell Forge Lake once again serves as the area’s crown jewel.
Wolfsanctuarypa.org provides all the information you’ll need regarding hours, special tours, etc. Full moon tours will be offered September 17, October 15, November 12 and December 10.