In 1746, a Welsh man named William Carvin received a land grant of 150 acres just outside of Roanoke. His homestead would later become the City of Roanoke’s primary water source and the nation’s second largest municipal park, offering a wide range of recreational activities. After Carvin passed, the region later became known as the Happy Valley community.
In 1926, Roanoke Water Works started plans to construct a $700,000 dam at Carvins Creek’s water falls. The dam would impound six billion gallons of water and become a source of fresh water for the growing urban population in Roanoke. Twelve years later, the City of Roanoke paid $4.5 million for all of the lands held by Roanoke Water Works, which included Carvins Cove. By 1944, the City voted to approve a $2.4 million bond issued to finish the Carvins Cove project. By 1947, the reservoir was completed and the filtration plant was put into operation, treating up to six million gallons of water daily. That treatment facility has since been updated and expanded, increasing the capacity to 28 million gallons per day.
In 2004, the Western Virginia Water Authority was formed and designated as the region’s water and wastewater service provider. As a result, the Water Authority gained ownership over the Carvins Cove Reservoir and land up to its 1,200-foot contour. The City of Roanoke retained ownership of the land, making Carvins Cove the second largest municipally-owned park in the United States. The remaining multi-use trails and land is managed by the City of Roanoke’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
In 2009, the City of Roanoke donated a two-part conservation easement in Roanoke County and Botetourt County. This easement permanently protects 11,363 acres of open space in Carvins Cove Natural Reserve.
Photo source: Western Virginia Water Authority