Twelve miles long, at an elevation of 2,222 feet, the lake was formed by a natural dam which a glacial moraine left across a prehistoric river. It was mapped by Captain George B. McClellan as Kahchess Lake during his 1853 survey of the Cascade Mountains, after the Indian name that means “many fish.” McClellan had been asked by Governor Isaac I. Stevens to explore the Cascades and find a pass over which a railroad could be built. He spent three months with his well-equipped party in the mountain wilderness. McClellan reached the Canadian Line but failed to discover a pass to Puget Sound. Kachess Dam was constructed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in 1912 as part of the Yakima Irrigation Project. The waters of the lake are used for irrigation in eastern Washington.
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