I’m joining Jenny Matlock for Alphabe-Thursday~ this week’s letter assignment is the letter I.
Referred to as an “Inland Sea,” Lake Norman is the largest man-made lake in North Carolina, and is located in the northern part of Mecklenburg County, just 18 miles northwest of Charlotte, with over 520 miles of shoreline and a surface area of more than 32,475 acres.
Cowans Ford Dam, constructed by Duke Energy in 1963, created the largest man-made body of fresh water in North Carolina fed by the Catawba River. The total length of the facility is 7,387 feet, including more than a mile of earthen dam. The concrete portion of the dam is 1,279 feet long and 130 feet high.
The ground breaking took place on September 28, 1959. It took four years to finish the huge dam, and another two years to fill the lake. Named after retired Duke Power President, Norman Atwater Cocke, it is 34 miles long and eight miles across at its widest point. Lake Norman is 760 feet above sea level, 130 feet deep at its deepest point~ with an average depth of 33 feet, and holds 3.4 trillion gallons of water at full pond.
The water of Lake Norman is used in two ways to provide electricity to the Piedmont Carolinas. It is used to power the generators at Cowans Ford Hydroelectric Station and by Marshall Steam Station and McGuire Nuclear Station to cool the steam that drives the turbines. This steam is condensed back to water so it can be pumped back through the plants and used again. The lake provides a dependable supply of water to Lincoln County, Davidson, Mooresville, Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Huntersville, North Carolina.
The waters of Lake Norman attract a variety of waterfowl. Mallards, wood ducks, teal and other ducks, as well as geese, may be seen during certain seasons. Wading birds, including great blue herons, green-backed herons and egrets, may be encountered along lake shallows in summer. Shorebirds rest in these areas during spring and fall migrations.
Duke’s professional foresters manage the quality of the water, plant nearly 1.8 million new trees on the land each year, stock the lake with fish, and regularly spray the shoreline with non-chemical light oil solution to control mosquitoes. A 2,135-acre water refuge was built below Cowan’s Ford Dam to shelter migratory ducks and geese in the winter.
When Lake Norman was created 96 land areas remained above water. These islands provide valuable habitat for a wide variety of wildlife as well as recreational destinations for thousands of boaters. Most of the islands are owned by Duke Energy and are open to the public. The lake’s 96 islands cover nearly 300 acres of land with almost 30 miles of shoreline. A few cover more than 20 acres and some are just piles of rock or shoals.
In addition to providing power, water, habitat and recreation~ Lake Norman’s creation also contributes to flood control. Because the lake can handle enormous amounts of water flowing down from the mountains, the torrential rains of 1940 and 1970 did not create a terrorizing replay of the flood of 1916 which took lives, farms, homes, animals, crops, bridges and roads, and destroyed businesses that were never rebuilt.
In addition to fabulous fall color this time of year, it’s always fun to boat and admire some amazing homes on the lake. . .
Duke Energy partnered with the state in the establishment of Lake Norman State Park. In addition, Duke Energy has built two bank fishing areas and eight public boating access areas along the shoreline.
You can visit Lake Norman State Park in Troutman, NC at 159 Inland Sea Lane~