Scenic USA - North Carolina

Fontana Lake

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Fontana Lake - Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina

Photo by Ben Prepelka
Scenic USA Artist Website

   An ambitious plan to dam the Upper Tennessee River remained shelved for years until the early 1940s when rumors of war prompted another evaluation. When the reality of the Pearl Harbor attack set in, dam construction began at once. The 480 foot high Fontana Dam became the largest dam east of the Mississippi. This huge structure used 3 million cubic yards of concrete and employed workers around the clock. A small Fontana Dam - Nantahala, North Carolina village of prefab housing sprouted up in a remote forested area of North Carolina, with a population of workers quickly rising to 5000. The dam's power generators came on line in early 1945 and powered facilities housing a portion of the top secret Manhattan Project and the nearby Alcoa Aluminum plant.
   Not only was an immense hydro-electric facility created, but a beautiful 30 mile long lake. A haven for recreation enthusiasts , Fontana Lake area is surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Great Smoky Mountains. While some lakeside homes exist, the majority of the shoreline is controlled by either the Great Smoky Mountain National Park or the U.S. Forest Service, sparing the lake-shore from further development.

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