Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fontana Dam

The Great Smoky Mountains aren't only the site of great natural beauty, but, also, the site of the tallest dam east of the Rocky Mountains, the Fontana Dam.  The dam was built in the early 1940's, in response to the need of the United States for increased electrical power to run all of the manufacturing plants producing war material.  Today, it's run by the TVA, the Tennessee Valley Authority.  Here is a site where you can learn more about it.

We visited it on a bright, sunny day.  It is magnificent, and beautiful in its grandeur.
Below the dam, the Little Tennessee River meanders.  There is a lovely trail that winds beside it.  Unfortunately, we didn't have a chance to walk that trail, because that hike was scheduled on the one day during our stay that it poured rain.
Above the dam, the calm waters of Fontana Lake spread for miles.
I wanted to do the Fontana Dam segment first because it explains why, in so many of my pictures, you will see that there is a band of bare earth between the water and the forest.  This band is there because the water behind the dam is, at this time, being "drawn down."  This means that water is being released into the river faster than the lake is filling, generating electricity as it is released.  This is done every Fall.  It serves a dual purpose.  It serves to help insure an even flow of electricity, when the rivers further downstream are low in the late Summer and Fall.  And, it empties the lake, so that in the late Winter and early Spring, when this area gets much of what is the highest amount of rain anywhere in the United States except for the Northwest Pacific Coast, the lake has room to fill and help prevent the horrible flooding that occurred in this region before the dam was built.

When we were there, the water still had to go down at least as much as it has already been drawn down.
We stayed in the Fontana Village Resort.  Why I didn't take any pictures of the resort is beyond me.  Maybe because we were hardly ever there.  But, it was a lovely place, with wonderful cabins complete with a fully equipped kitchen, all spotlessly clean.  Here is a slide show of the cabins.  I have no idea how I got this show to happen, but these aren't my pictures, and were taken from the Fontana Village Resort web site. http://www.fontanavillage.com/
You can see, we weren't exactly roughing it.

Fontana Village Resort has an interesting history.  It was originally the site of a much more primative village, where many of the workers who built Fontana Dam lived.  If you look at this link, on the building of Fontana Dam, you'll see a couple of shots of what the original Fontana Village looked like.

So, that is Fontana Dam and the place where we stayed.  I'll do another blog posting on the natural beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains.


Gary said...

Great tour!! Are you on vacation? Have fun. Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

TexWisGirl said...

love the thick trees in that area!

Madi and Mom said...

Oh my goodness you were in my favorite spot in NC....what a beauitful area. Did you go into Dillsboro or Bryson City? How about Natahala?
Thank you for these beautiful pictures!!
Hugs C

Sarah said...

call me pathetic but my eyes are watering. I needed these pictures so badly. Thanks for posting them! You were in the backyard of my home area, and I havn't seen it since April! I grew up east of Chattanooga. And my ancestors come from North Carolina. My heart will always belong to them no matter where I may roam to. I have been craving a trip "home" and got a little visit through your pictures! Glad you had such an great time!

missing moments said...

the area does look very pretty! And, nope doesn't look like you were roughin it at all!

Sharon said...

Great post! Lovely pictures - nice accommodations too! Looks like a very nice place to visit and go hiking.

Lori Skoog said...

What a beautiful place...commanding views.

Janet said...

It looks fabulous ! not sure I`d ever want to come home !

KB said...

It looks like you visited a gorgeous area! That's a big dam and big reservoir. Wow.

Can't wait to hear more about your trip.

Terry said...

Very beautiful. You were lucky with the weather.

Jim said...

This is why I love Blogland! I get to see and learn so much. This dam is huge and thanks for the rational behind it.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

What a wonderful place to visit and stay!

Jim said...

What a beautiful area of the country.