The Monroe Lake area was, until the early 1700's, undisputed Miami Indian land, even though occupied by both the Miami and Delaware tribes. The lake area was acquired legally from the Indians as part of Harrison's Purchase, by the Treaty of Fort Wayne, on September 30,1809.
The first recorded white settlers arrived in 1815, but were undoubtedly preceded by hunters and refugees from the law. A typical landholder farmed a few acres claimed from the woods and harvested the plentiful wild game of the area. Many of the original settlers were thrifty and industrious, although squatters and land speculators abounded, seeking to make a fortune in the new territory.
The rolling hills of southern Indiana produced tremendous amounts of lumber from native stands of poplar, maple, cherry, walnut, and ash. Forest clearing allowed development of a farming economy which still a local mainstay.
Monroe Lake is situated in Monroe, Brown, and Jackson Counties in south central Indiana. The lake is located near Bloomington, Indiana.
Monroe Lake was authorized under the Flood Control Act of 1938. The Louisville District of the U.S. Army Corps. Of Engineers designed, built, and operates the project to reduce flood damages downstream from the dam. The dam is about 10 miles southeast of Bloomington, Indiana, on Salt Creek, a tributary of the East Fork White River.
When heavy rains occur, surface water runoff is stored in the lake until swollen streams and rivers below the dam have receded and can handle the release of the stored water without damage to lives and property.
Construction began in November 1960 and the lake became operational in February 1965. Since its completion, Monroe Lake has prevented more then $38 million in flood damage, or more than twice its original cost of $16.5 million.
In addition to flood protection and recreation, Corps lake provide immeasurable benefits to the local economy.