Often referred to as "The Jewel of the Blue Ridge," Smith Mountain Lake was created in 1966 when engineers dammed the Blackwater and Roanoke rivers flooding Smith Mountain Gap. American Electric Power (formerly Appalachian Power) built the Smith Mountain Dam and began making electricity for the surrounding communities. Today, the lake is a renowned recreational and retirement destination along with the best place to live to enjoy the "lake lifestyle". Smith Mountain Lake is a 20,600 acre, 40 mile long lake, and is surrounded by 500 miles of shoreline located along the borders of Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania counties in southwestern Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Smith Mountain Lake is governed independently by each of the three counties (Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania) it borders. Each county has a board of supervisors and county administrator. Smith Mountain Lake is a 30-45 minute drive from either Roanoke or Lynchburg. The lake covers parts of three Virginia counties -- Franklin, Bedford, and Pittsylvania. Three airports -- Smith Mountain Lake Airport, Roanoke Regional Airport, and Lynchburg Regional Airport serve the area. The recreational opportunities are outstanding with boating, fishing and golfing being the most popular. For boaters there are marinas conveniently located all over the lake. Fishermen love the lake for the citation striped bass (Smith Mountain Lake Striper Club). For golfers there are 5 private and public golf courses. Smith Mountain Lake State Park provides camping and recreational opportunities as well.