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Buggs or Kerr - Which Is It?


Kerr Lake Fishing by Scott K Brown

Both names belong to the same 50,000 acre body of water that straddles the Virginia / North Carolina line.


This has been a touchy subject in the area since the dam was constructed between 1944 (when the Flood Control Act of 1944 was passed) and 1952 (when the dam was officially dedicated).

The project originally held the official title of the Bugg's Island Reservoir Project, named after the small island upstream from the dam owned by the Bugg family, who originally purchased it back in 1752.  

However, in 1952, just before the dam was opened, the North Carolina congressman whom had worked so hard to secure funding for the project lost his re-election bid.  The congressman's name?  John H. Kerr.  And it was because of this that the United States Congress renamed the project in his honor.   

Kerr Reservoir Dam Under Construction (courtesy US Army Corps of Engineers)

Upset at the last-minute name change, Virginia State Senator Albertis S. Harrison introduced a joint resolution in the Virginia Senate proclaiming that the body of water created by the dam shall "forever more” be known as Bugg's Island Lake.  The measure passed both houses unanimously.

Thank you to Mecklenburg Sun reporter Susan Kyte, whose article "What’s in a name? For the Bugg family, pride" was borrowed heavily from for the above information and is a source for even more great background on this.


The owners and operators of the lake and surrounding shoreline, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, refer to it officially as the "John H. Kerr Reservoir."  

Some local businesses and residents refer to it as "Bugg's Island Lake," and some others refer to it as "Kerr Lake."  

For now at least, our County tourism office will refer to it as Kerr Lake for simplicity and consistency with the Corps of Engineers.  

We love the story and the local pride behind Bugg's Island, though, so we'll make sure that history isn't lost!

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