About Lake Panorama

The idea of building a dam on the Middle Raccoon to create a lake near Panora was first talked about in 1931. More than 30 years later, Louie Hansen, the Guthrie County Extension director, took up the idea. Hansen believed a lake would be an important economic development tool for the county and helped form the Guthrie County Lake Development Company.

Property owners bordering the Middle Raccoon River were contacted. It was announced at a 1962 meeting of the Panora Commercial Club that 5,659 of the 7,000 acres needed had been placed under option.

On April 12, 1965, aerial photos were taken and a topographical map of the proposed lake area created. In a contest to select a name, 23 people suggested Lake Panorama.

To continue the progress made by the local group, the Mid-Iowa Lakes Development Corporation was formed in July 1965, and began selling stock for $2 a share. In 1967, Mid-Iowa Lakes received state approval to build the dam. In late October, the first lot was sold to Louie Hansen, the visionary behind the project.

In 1968, a laser beam was used to establish the water line. Throughout the summer, trees and brush were cleared and roads were built. On August 14, 1968, the first by-laws of the Lake Panorama Association were approved.

By October 1968, 900 lots had been sold, and construction of the dam began the following spring. At 5:30 a.m. on June 8, 1970, the dam gate was closed and Lake Panorama began to fill.