Whitney Lake was originally authorized by Congress in 1941. However, when the U.S. became involved in World War II, the funding was taken away because all resources were needed for the war effort. The construction was authorized again in the Flood Control Act of 1944. The primary purpose of the lake was (and is) flood control. Other purposes of the lake include water conservation and the production of hydroelectric power. Construction began on the dam in May 1947 and was completed in December 1951. Construction of the powerhouse began in April 1951 and was completed in June 1953. The construction cost of the dam was $41,880,000 and the cost of the powerhouse was $2,208,354.