By Metro Parks Community Relations
McNeely Lake was built in the mid-1950s by the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources. The land for the lake was donated by four local families: Bertha and Earl Thomas and family; Billie and Jerry Thomas; B.W. and Florence Deutsch and family; and Albert and Evelyn Toebbe and family.
The lake was named for Louis P. McNeely, who was the sports editor of the now-defunct Louisville Times and an avid fisherman and outdoorsman until his death in 1945. He was 49 years old at the time of the car accident which ended his life. He had been with the Times since he was 14 years old.
Dedication of the lake occurred on August 5, 1955. The first official cast was made by Mrs. Alice Bostic, Mr. McNeely’s widow. She was accompanied by then-Governor Lawrence Wetherby, other dignitaries and about 200 anxious anglers, who patiently waited to try their luck in the new lake.
In the mid 1970s, County Judge/Executive Todd Hollenbach wanted to turn McNeely Lake into a full service park. He approached the J. Graham Brown Foundation, which donated $1 million for the purpose of expanding the park at McNeely Lake.
There have been many proposed ideas for the park over the years. These plans are mindful that the park should maintain much of its natural environment so that fishermen, hikers, admirers of nature, and children can all gain maximum enjoyment in the same park.