Lake Chatuge

A recording in the Towns County Herald on Thursday, May 29, 1941, states:

"The Tennessee Valley Authority, faced with a serious shortage of electric power for defense industries in the southeast, has requested $51,000,000 for the construction of four new dams on the Hiwassee River at the Barnett Bridge in North Carolina (just over the Towns County, GA, line.) Two of the proposed dams will be storage dams, while the other two will be power dams. The one affecting this county most will be a storage dam. Indications point to early start on the construction of the dam..."

On July 17, 1941, the Senate passed the TVA bill, paving the way for construction to begin in earnest. "Water contour lines have been surveyed and the markers show that Hiawassee, the town so reported as being in danger of complete inundation, will be able to keep doing business at the same old stand. The land acquisition men are still working on deeds and titles at the courthouse in Hiawassee. Orders to go to work on the dam are expected any day."

Construction of the earth-filled Chatuge Dam across the Hiwassee River about three miles southeast of Hayesville, NC, began on July 17, 1941. The TVA dams brought badly needed jobs for local folks in the lingering post-depression years, which was a definite boost for the local economy. Of course, the folks whose land lay in the path of the lake were not so happy. Gone forever were the approximately 3,700 acres in Clay County, NC and 3,500 acres in Towns County, Georgia. It was the area's richest and best farmland from which the residents had gleaned their livelihoods. Churches and schools were interrupted and moved. The January 9, 1942 issue of the Towns County Herald, stated that "...141 houses had to be moved...about 60 families have left the county--affected directly or indirectly by the building of the dam."

Lake Chatuge Hightlights......

Construction of Lake Chatuge began on July 17, 1941 and by February 12, 1942 the reservoir was filling up.

128 miles of shoreline

189 square miles of watershed.

Reservoir - Flood Plain 9,249 acres.

Cost of Dam $9,253,701 (as of 1960 cost had risen to $10.8 million.)

Removed 278 families.

Moved 532 graves.

13 mile long reservoir.

Dam is located on Hiwassee River at mile 121.0.

Employed 2,250 people at peak.

Took 1,521,831 man hours to build.

Used 10 demountable houses and 25 trailers to house workers.

Excavated 1,300,000 cubic yards of dirt.

Has one turbine with peak output of 13,800 HP.

Flood storage - Volume 240,500 acre feet.

Winter storage - Volume 122,500 acres feet.

TVA purchased 11,462 acres for the Chatuge Dam paying a total of $935,851 for it ($451,969 for 6,048 acres in Clay County, NC and $483,882 for 5,414 acres in Towns County.)

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