Marion's Central ParkMarion City Library at Historic Santa Fe Depot

Marion County Park and Lake
Marion Reservoir

Marion's early day settlement centered around the rich soil and the abundance of water.  The same holds true today.  We are one of the few, if not the only community, that may say we are located between two lakes in Kansas.

The history of the Marion County Park and Lake began in 1934 when the federal government designated Kansas as a drought area.  Therefore all of the counties were eligible to receive funds from the federal government's lake and pond project work plan.  The plan was to serve two worthwhile purposes, to provide work for the unemployed and to advance the government's water conservation project.

In 1935, after the lake site had been selected by state engineers and purchased by the county, Marion County Engineer James Meisner's plan for converting the 302.5 acres of agricultural land into a park and lake were approved by Washington.  His plans included the designs and placements of the stone structures, roads, and landscaping.  Many projects were undertaken throughout the United States during this period by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) made up of unmarried men, ages 17 to 28, whose families were in critical need of income.  The camp of CCC workers assigned to the Marion County Project #4755 had the rare distinction of being black veterans of World War I.  They moved into their quarters in 1936 and began building the earthen dam, roads, bridges, a baseball diamond and golf course, as well as planting grass and thousands of trees.  The Works Progress Administration (WPA), another New Deal era program, built the stone structures.  The grand opening and dedication was held on May 26, 1940.  In 2002 the Marion County Park and Lake was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The park and lake involves 300 acres, including a 153 acre lake, with water depths ranging up to 40 feet.  A large mobile home park and camping grounds have been added.  You may enjoy year-round state record fishing at this lake, due to the addition of a heated dock.  The heated dock is open 24 hours a day.  Please pick up other necessary permits at the lake office.  The honor system is used for the daily fees if no one is on duty at the lake office.  No hunting is allowed in the park.  A new shower house facility has been well-received by campers.  Marion County Park and Lake is located 1 mile east and 1 1/2 south of Marion, just off highways U.S. 256 & U.S. 77.

To the northwest of Marion, a short 3 miles, is the 6,200 acre lake, Marion Reservoir.  Marion Reservoir was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1950.  It was designated and built under the supervision of the Tulsa District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Work began in March of 1964, and was completed in February of 1968.

Excellent opportunities for camping, fishing, hunting, picnicing and sightseeing are available around the lake.  The reservoir supports some of the best sport fisheries in the State of Kansas.  Sport fish found in the lake include walleye, white bass, white crappie, wipers, channel and flathead catfish.  The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks operate 4,100 acres of project lands for hunting.  Signs mark public hunting area.  Principle game species include pheasant, bobwhite quail, ducks, geese, mourning dove, cottontail rabbit, squirrel, deer and turkey.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates four parks, located around the reservoir.  Cottonwood Point, Hillsboro Cove, French Creek Cove and Marion Cove.  Public Use Areas offer a variety of camping facilities, ranging from semi-improved to developed campsites with electrical hookups.  Group camping, swimming beaches, boat launching facilities, as well as interpretive nature trail, are also available to the outdoor enthusiast.  Inquiries regarding project use are welcome at the Project Office, located near the North corner of the dam.  The address for the Project Office is U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Rt. 1, Box 102, Marion, Kansas  66861.  Telephone number of the office is 620-382-2101, or you may visit their web site at Army Corps of Engineers.