From a bird’s-eye view of a map, the lake has an unusual shape. It’s very much a finely crafted horseshoe.
The southern city limits of Woodland sit between the Clark and Cowlitz counties boundary line, and part of the Lewis River meanders throughout the counties within the city limits. The boundary line follows the center of the river, though not perfectly anymore due to erosion and accretion, said Travis Goddard, city of Woodland Community Development director.
Horseshoe Lake was once a part of the river, but in 1940, a curve in the river was cut off during the construction of Highway 99, now Interstate 5, forming the oxbow-shaped lake, said Tracy Coleman, Woodland’s Public Works director.
For the most part, half of the lake’s water lies in Clark and half lies in Cowlitz, Goddard said. The county boundary has not changed, but the river has migrated in spots. Island Aire Drive and north belong to our neighbors; the rest of the island in the middle of the lake is and always has been in Clark County, Coleman said.
It’s unlikely the river would be rerouted if the freeway were built today, due to the state’s Shoreline Management Act, adopted by voters in 1972, and other changes in law at the national level that protect natural water features such as large lakes and rivers, Goddard said. What’s more likely is three separate bridges would be built, to extend over what is now Horseshoe Lake and the slight, westward curve in the Lewis River directly south of the lake.