1. It’s not easy to find
Located around Gentry, Ark., there is only one access point for the lake, which can be especially difficult to spot if you go at night. From campus, head east on U.S. Route 412 and soon after Walmart turn left onto State Highway 59, northbound. This will take you into Gentry. Once there, look out for State Highway 12. You will turn left onto it and head west for a couple miles until you hit Cripps Road. Turn left again and go south for just a few more miles until you see a parking lot and boat ramp on your left. Hello, SWEPCO.
2. It’s a JBU tradition
SWEPCO is one of the countless JBUisms referred to throughout the year on campus, although especially so during Orientation Week each fall. Groups of students notoriously carpool to the lake and take a dive into the warm, murky waters. Sophomore Sara Stoll described the experience as both fun and gross, adding that, “once you get over the concept of it, the water feels nice when it’s chilly outside.”
3. Murky legality
SWEPCO Lake is outside of the Siloam Spring’s Police Department’s jurisdiction and the Benton County Sheriff’s Office could not be reached for comment. So it may be legal to swim in the lake or it may not be – just keep that in mind as you wade into the water.
4. It’s warm year-round
This man-made 500-acre lake is warm 365 days a year because it serves as a cooling agent for the nearby Flint Creek Power Plant. According to a forum on basscatowners.yuku.com, the water can be between 70 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on where you are on the lake. And remember, if the power plant happens to be shut down for maintenance or something along those lines, the lake will be cold just like any other lake, especially during the winter.
5. More than swimming
Because of the unnaturally continuous warm water supply, SWEPCO Lake is a great place for fishing. Jason Cossey of area J and B Fishing Guide Service told Channel 5 News that he once caught a 60-pound bass in the water. He said that the fish tend to be bigger in this lake, growing all year long because of the warm water. Cossey also stated that the best times for fishing were early morning or twilight. But if fishing just isn’t your thing, there is also a half-mile trail, the Eagle Watch Nature trail, to hike. Also drawn because of the warm water each year, many American Bald Eagles arrive on the lake each fall and spend the winter living off and around the lake.