JENNINGS RANDOLPH LAKE - The Blue Dragon Boat Regatta taking place at Jennings Randolph Lake Saturday is meant in part to draw attention to this beautiful part of Mineral County, tucked away in the highlands near Elk Garden.

For the News Tribune
JENNINGS RANDOLPH LAKE - The Blue Dragon Boat Regatta taking place at Jennings Randolph Lake Saturday is meant in part to draw attention to this beautiful part of Mineral County, tucked away in the highlands near Elk Garden.
First order of business for the event is to give kids some fun outdoor time and connection with other kids from across the county, but just the drive to the lake can make folks feel they are entering an entirely new and different region.
Originally named Bloomington Dam, the lake was constructed as part of a flood control plan authorized in 1962 and finished in 1981.
The name Jennings Randolph Lake was chosen in 1987 to honor US Senator Jennings Randolph for all his efforts on behalf of West Virginia.
The nearly 300-foot-high and over 2,000-foot long dam is made of rock and earth. The water surface, which measures over 952 acres, is known most for the public recreation Mineral County and Maryland residents enjoy, but the lake was built also to increase water quality and reduce potential flood damage downstream on the North Branch of the Potomac River, and below.
Additionally, the lake serves as an emergency reservoir for the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.
The largest part of the surface and shoreline area is managed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and flows along over five miles bordering West Virginia and Maryland. Areas made available to the public include fishing and boating from several boat ramps, beach and picnic areas, and the Robert C. Craig campground.
A hydroelectric facility was proposed at the dam by the Fairlawn Hydroelectric Company in 2008, a subsidiary of Advanced Hydro Solutions LLC. The measure continued steps toward construction with this summer's House of Representatives passage of bill HR 2122, which extended the license to construct the dam, introduced by Representative David McKinley, a companion to the bi-partisan bill sponsored by Senators Joe Manchin and Shelly Capito in March of this year, with signing at the White house on June 23, 2018.
In addition to the Craig Campground and Shaw Beach, West Virginia visitors can enjoy the Howell Run Picnic Area, the Howell Run Boat Launch; and the West Virginia Overlook. After visiting you may also be able to come back and describe a “Waffle Rock.”
Maryland visitors also have a Maryland Overlook and a Maryland DNR Boat Launch.
The Army Corps provides maps and information on the lake for residents and tourists to the area. Their Jennings Randolph Lake “Simple Pleasures” brochure invites: “ Enjoy a cool refreshing swim at Shaw Beach during those dog days of summer. Or, relax on one of the redwood benches and cool off with a lakeside breeze while watching the kids having fun on the playground equipment or building sand castes on the beach. Restrooms with changing areas are close to the beach if you change your mind and want to take a dip in  then lake. Pack a picnic lunch and eat under the shade of a tree or on one of the picnic tables.” Ranger staff and campground hosts will be happy to give assistance while you are there.
For directions to the lake: most of Mineral County will find their way to Route 50 west and climb the Allegheny Front Mountain to Route 42 at the top, and turn right toward Elk Garden. Upon entering Elk Garden you will see signs for Jennings Randolph Lake, directing you to turn north on Route 46 (Shaw Road) and follow to Jennings Randolph Lane on your left, or follow the signs to Shaw Beach.
For those coming to the lake from Maryland, State Route 135 atop Backbone Mountain will bring travelers to Mt. Zion Road which descends the mountain to the Maryland Boat Launch.
On the maps or from the air, the Blue Dragon can be seen. The lake's nickname titles the event this Saturday that takes place at Shaw Beach, beginning at 10 a.m.
To learn more, go on facebook to 2018 Mineral County Parks and Recreation Boat Regatta for registration information and more details. Call 304-788-5732 or email mcparksandrec@outlook.com. Or you can call the Park Ranger at the lake on 304-355-2346 for this event or for general information about enjoying another of Mineral County's Hidden Gems: Jennings Randolph lake.