Written by: Danielle Wilson
In 1750, Dr. Thomas Walker, the first fontiersman into Kentucky, stood on a high bluff overlooking a giant river. Impressed by this stream flowing from the mountains of southeastern Kentucky, he named it in honor of the Duke of Cumberland, son of George II of England. Some 200 years later, Wolf Creek Dam was constructed on the Cumberland River forming Lake Cumberland, which has 1, 255 miles of shoreline and 63,000 surface acres.
On January 1, 1951, the Secretary of the Army granted 2,791 acres of land to the Commonwealth of Kentucky to be developed as a state park recreation area. Construction began that year on a Lodge and access road into the park. Although small, it was considered to be an outstanding park facility when completed in 1953. Originally called Lure Lodge because of the great Lake Cumberland fishing, the name was changed to Pumpkin Creek Lodge when the present Lodge opened in the 1960’s. Built with park labor, the Pumpkin Creek Lodge featured 15 rooms, a dining room for 40 guests and an entrance lounge with a rustic stone fireplace.
There was a great demand for dock facilities on the new lake and a new dock was completed and placed in operation in 1952. Originally located at the old Rowena Ferry site, the dock was moved to its present location after the road into the park was completed. Through the rest of the 1950’s, park development included completion of 19 rustic vacation cottages, a campground and service facilities, roads and parking areas, general landscaping and acquisition of additional acreage to protect the park entrance.
The new Lure Lodge was built on a steep cloff overlooking one of the broadest expanses of water on Lake Cumberland. Completed September 8, 1962, Lure Lodge originally had 24 guests rooms. An expansion program later included 24 additional rooms and a Lodge indoor swimming pool.
The 1960’s proved to be a period of increased popularity for Kentucky State Parks. Facilities added at Lake Cumberland during this time included 10 ranch style 2-bedroom cabins, trails, tennis courts, playgrounds, an expansion of the dock facilities, a community pool and gift shop.
By the 1970’s the 10 Wildwood cottages were completed, as were the Activities Center, Country Store, mini golf course, picnic area and employee houses.
During the winter of 1980, Pumpkin Creek Lodge underwent its first major renovation since construction. While it was completely remodeled inside and out, great care was taken to retain the basic appearance of the structure. The accommodations were modernized but reduced in number to 13, and the original dining room was returned to use as a meeting room.
The Lake Cumberland State Resort Park continues to make great strides in renovations and in 2020 is updating the campground with several full hookup sites, there is work currently on both the outdoor and indoor swimming pools as well as renovations to the Conference Center and hotel.
The Lake Cumberland State Dock has grown over the years, and now has the largest collection of rental houseboats (in one location) in the entire United States! In addition to being famous for houseboat rental, Lake Cumberland State Dock also rents smaller boats like pontoons, ski boats, jet skis, paddle boards, kayaks and fishing boats.