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History of Lake Norman

boats-sailboats-harbor-harbourAs the area continues to grow there are a lot of people that may not know the history of Lake Norman.   To all these new people I would like to welcome you to the area and ask you to take a minute to read this  brief history of Lake Norman.

Early History

The idea for damming the Catawba River was first introduced in 1895 after the first hydroelectric plant was built at Niagara Falls.  A young engineer by the name of William Lee was working on the Niagara Falls project and he believed that the power of the Catawba River could be harnessed to provide electricity to homes and industry in the Catawba River Valley.  Engineering and building the dams was not a problem.  The problem was finding the money to make the idea a reality.

In 1905 the money problem would be solved.  William Lee and his friend Dr, W. Gill Wylie met with textile and tobacco tycoons James and Ben Duke.   When Mr. Lee and Dr. Wylie explained the benefits of damming the Catawba River and the massive amounts of money that could be made the Duke’s invested $50,000.00 with Lee and Wylie to form the Southern Power Company.   In 1927 the Southern Power Company changed its name to Duke Power Company, and by 1928 the Duke Power Company had completed 10 dams  along the Catawba River.  The Catawba River Valley had become the worlds most electrified river.   Their idea had become a reality.

Lake Norman

The lake that we know and enjoy today came into existence in 1957 when planning began for the construction of Cowan Fords Dam.  In 1959  construction began on Cowan Fords Dam.  When the dam was completed in 1961, the largest lake in the Duke Power system and the largest lake in the State of North Carolina had been created.   It would take 2 years for the lake to completeljet-ski-1466655_640y fill to full pond.

Important Lake Norman Facts

  • The lake is named after former Duke Power President Norman Atwater Cocker
  • The lake holds 3.4 trillion gallons of water
  • The lake starts at Lookout Dam and ends at Cowan Fords Dam
  • It is 34 miles long and 8 miles wide at it widest point
  • It is twice the size of the sea of Galilee
  • The lake covers 32,500 acres
  • There is 520 miles of shore line.  This is more shore line than the coast lines of North and South Carolina.
  • The lake sits 760 feet above seal level
  • The lake is 130 feet deep at its deepest

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