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Claytor Lake Virginia
New River Valley Virginia Pulaski County Virginia Town of Pulaski Virginia Town of Dublin Virginia City of Radford Virginia

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•  Claytor Lake  •  Claytor Lake State Park

Contributed by Deane and Garvey Winegar

Claytor Lake.  If the bottom of clear, cold, deep, 21-mile-long Claytor Lake was visible, visitors would get a glimpse of one link on the chain of history connecting early settlement along the frontier area known as southwest Virginia. The 4,475-acre impoundment of the New River lies south of Radford and east of Pulaski in Pulaski County, an easy jump from Interstate 81.

The nearby interstate and US 11 follow closely the old Wilderness Road, a footpath and wagon trail for settlers traveling south down the Shenandoah and Roanoke valleys from Pennsylvania. Thousands of years before European pioneers started streaming down the valley in the mid-1700s, the road was a well-traveled hunting and raiding route used by southern Cherokee and Catawba tribes, as well as members of the northern Iroquois Confederacy of Five Nations. A mystic German sect called the Ephrata Brethren (later to be known as Dunkards) decided the land now covered by Claytor Lake was the place they wanted to stop. When the New River was dammed to form Claytor Lake for the generating of electric power in 1939, the community known as Dunkard's Bottom was swallowed by the rising waters.

Fishing at Claytor Lake. Fishing is good but challenging in the narrow, winding waters of the lake. Claytor's steep shorelines make excellent habitat for smallmouth and spotted bass. In 1993, a 3-pound, 10-ounce spotted bass caught in the lake took the state record.

Claytor Lake State Park. With 472 acres of mostly hardwoods and pines, Claytor Lake State Park is now the centerpiece of 21-mile-long Claytor Lake. The park is a magnet to some 300,000 people a year whose primary recreational interests are waterbased.

Actually, the park and lake can get quite crowded on summer weekends. Much of the park property, however, is woodland, so getting away from the whine of bass boats and jet skies is no difficult matter.  [More ...]

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