Lake Murray – where did it get its name?

Lake Murray
If you've ever been to Lake Murray, you likely know exactly where this spot, known locally as "The Towers" is, but do you know how the lake got its name?

Midlands lake is named for William S. Murray

Lake Murray is one of the most popular lakes in the Carolinas. It’s made up of about 50,000 acres. The man-made reservoir has approximately 650 miles of shoreline in Lexington, Richland, Newberry, and Saluda counties.

A popular fishing spot for crappie, striper, bass, and catfish anglers, the lake was developed as a source of hydroelectric power in the 1920s.

So where did the name come from? Unlike many bodies of water in the Carolinas that are named for local Native American tribes or military heroes, Lake Murray is named after the man who served as chief engineer of the project to build the Saluda Dam, which created Lake Murray.

William S. Murray is not a name that’s well-known to South Carolinians. Murray grew up in Annapolis, Md., attended college in Bethlehem, Pa., and worked as an engineer throughout his adult life.

In 1923, Murray’s engineering firm, Murray & Flood, was hired to build the Saluda Dam for creating hydroelectric power. He saw the project through to completion in 1930. He died in 1942 at the age of 68. Murray did not appear to have any ties to South Carolina before accepting the lake-building project. 

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Brian Cope
About Brian Cope 1872 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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