Black Warrior & Tombigbee Lakes

The Black Warrior-Tombigbee Project Office is home to six beautiful lakes. They include Bankhead, Holt, Oliver, Warrior, Demopolis, and Coffeeville.  These lakes stretch from the headwaters near Birmingham, AL, south through Tuscaloosa and Demopolis to the southernmost Mobile District Corps facility located below Coffeeville.

The lakes are part of the larger Black Warrior & Tombigbee Waterway system which serves commercial navigation purposes, as well as providing hydropower and recreational opportunities.  The river system's ultimate destination is a confluence with the Gulf of Mexico in Mobile, Alabama. Today, the beautiful waters of these lakes provide an abundance of recreational opportunities including boating, fishing, camping, hunting, hiking, and sightseeing.


The Black Warrior basin has abundant natural resources and is one of the most highly industrialized areas in the Southeast. The Tombigbee basin is primarily agricultural. The two rivers have played a vital part in development of their basins. First explorers, then traders and settlers used the rivers as water highways. The settlement of the town of Mobile was successful largely because of its ideal location to serve as a port of the inland river system. In the nineteenth century, cultivation of cotton and invention of the paddlewheel steamboat stimulated trade on the rivers.

In 1875, the first plans to improve the rivers for navigation were approved. Between 1895 and 1915, a system of 17 locks and dams was constructed between Mobile and Birmingham. In those days, waterway construction was a slow and laborious task. Dams were built by hand of stone and mortar. Locks were walled with stone-filled timber cribs, and hauling was done by mule-power. The original locks and dams were built to provide a six-foot-deep channel, adequate for the steam-powered tow boats and packets of the era. The Corps of Engineers undertook a program to modernize the system in 1937. The 17 low-lift locks were replaced by six high-lift locks, capable of expediting present-day towboats and barges. The locks vary in maximum lift from 22 to 69 feet. The nine-foot navigation channel is maintained to a width of 200 feet. Tows of up to eight standard barges can be accommodated at all locks.

The waterway is now approximately 457 miles long. All of the original locks and dams have been replaced except for John Hollis Bankhead Dam on the Black Warrior near Birmingham. The structures at Bankhead were the last of the original locks and dams built on the system. Bankhead dam has been modernized and a new lock has been constructed to make it comparable in efficiency to the other lock.


All Black Warrior-Tombigbee Campgrounds are going cashless.  Click here for information about the southern section of the Black Warrior-Tombigbee Waterway System.  More information about the northern section is forthcoming.

BW&T Project Lakes

Coffeeville Lake

Coffeeville Lake is the third largest lake in the system with a surface area of 8,800 acres and a length of 97 miles. A modern campground has been developed at Service Park just west of the town of Coffeeville. The Corps has licensed approximately 4,000 acres on Coffeeville lake to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the Choctaw National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is managed primarily for migratory waterfowl. Several areas are day use also located on Coffeeville Lake.

Demopolis Lake

Located near Demopolis, AL, at the confluence of the Black Warrior and Tombigbee River, Demopolis Lake is the largest lake in the Black Warrior-Tombigbee system. The lake extends 48 miles upriver on the Black Warrior and 53 miles up the Tombigbee and covers 10,000 acres. Two modern campgrounds and many day use facilities, as well as primitive camping areas, are available on Demopolis Lake. There is also a large, full service marina at Demopolis.


Warrior Lake

Warrior Lake, located six miles from Eutaw, AL, has a surface area of 7,800 acres and a length of 77 miles. Armistead I. Selden Lock and Dam was completed in 1962. Facilities on the lake include primitive camping, boat launching and day-use. The Corps of Engineers manages seven day-use parks for use by the public. These parks provide the public with a variety of recreational opportunities and easy access to the water.


Oliver Lake

Oliver Lake was formed by the construction of the William Bacon Oliver Lock and Dam. The Lake is nine miles long with approximately 1,000 surface acres. Recreational development is limited to boat launching facilities and day use areas which are located within the Tuscaloosa city limits and managed by the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority.

Holt Lake

Holt Lake is a narrow winding body of water which stretches for 18 miles and encompasses 3,200 surface acres. The lake lies six miles northeast of Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Holt Lake was formed by the damming of the Black Warrior River at mile 347.0. Construction of the lock and dam was completed in 1966.

Recreational development provides opportunities for water related and other outdoor recreation for the public. Corps managed facilities include camping areas from primitive to highly developed with park attendants for security and information, water and electric hookups, and a camper washhouse.

Bankhead Lake

Bankhead Lake is the most northern project on the Black Warrior-Tombigbee river system. The lake's clear waters stretch for 65 miles and encompass 9,100 surface acres. This includes the Locust and Mulberry forks to the head of navigation. All development on the lake is either privately owned or commercial. There are several marinas and fish camps along the lake that provide boat docking and storage, fueling facilities, boat repairs, launching ramps, food, and supplies. The Corps of Engineers does not have developed recreation areas on Bankhead Lake.



River Level Information


Contact Us

BWT Project Office

Demopolis Site Office

384 Resource Management Dr.

Demopolis, AL 36732-1546

(334) 289-3540

Holt Resource Office

11911 Holt Lock and Dam Road

Cottondale, AL 35453

(205) 553-9373