Pomme de Terre Lake is located in the rugged, tree covered hills of the west central Missouri Ozarks on the Pomme de Terre River. The Pomme de Terre Project was authorized by Congress in 1938 as part of a comprehensive flood control plan for the Missouri River Basin. Project Planning was initiated in 1947 and actual construction began in 1957. The lake was completed in 1961 at a cost of $14,946,784.
At multipurpose pool Pomme de Terre Lake covers 7,820 acres and can expand to as much as 16,100 acres during periods of heavy rain as excess runoff is impounded to prevent downstream flooding. Pomme de Terre Lake works in conjunction with several other Corps of Engineers operated lakes to provide flood protection for the Osage River Basin and the lower Missouri and Mississippi Rivers. Other benefits of the lake include recreation, fish and wildlife management and water quality improvement.
The Pomme de Terre Dam is an earth and rockfill embankment, is 7,240 feet long and stands 155 feet above the streambed. The dam's impervious core was made of heavily compacted clay and is virtually watertight. The outlet works, consisting of the control tower, tunnel and stilling basin. The control tower is equipped with two hydraulically operated gates which controlled release of water through the dam and reduces the force of the water flowing downstream.
The phrase "Pomme de Terre" is French for "Apple of the Earth" or "potato". The Pomme de Terre River was probably named after plants that resembled potatoes that grew on this banks. This plant was probably an Apios Americana or Potato Bean and was used for food by the Indians.