Fact Friday 162 - Mountain Island Lake Dam
Nope.... unfortunately this isn't the "Dam" we'll be discussing...
The town of Mountain Island was located on a peninsula created by the Catawba River about ten miles north of Charlotte, at the border of the city and the nearby town of Gastonia. It grew up around the Mountain Island Mill, which was built in 1848 and was steam-operated. It was the first mill in Gaston County and operated until 1916, when a flood destroyed it and brought a halt to the growth of the village. Mountain Island received new life soon after, when the Catawba Manufacturing Company built a steam plant on the banks of the river. Duke Power purchased the land a few years later, and in 1923 completed construction of a hydroelectric dam across the Catawba near the site where the mill once stood. This 1920s photo shows the installation soon after it opened. The damming of the river created Mountain Island Lake, a 3,281-acre body of water surrounded by more than sixty miles of shoreline.
A match-up of the hydroelectric station from the 1920s.
Today Mountain Island remains the only lake in the city of Charlotte and supplies most of the drinking water for Mecklenburg and Gaston counties. The creation of the dam flooded the old mill homes, but a Duke Power village clustered around the hydroelectric power plant beside the dam and the nearby Riverbend Steam Plant replaced it. Today it is the smallest of the three man-made lakes that border Mecklenburg County, but it is the center of yet another thriving community that is attractive to professionals seeking to live near Uptown or the airport.
The dam and the power plant still exist unchanged from how they were in 1924, and the area nearby is now a tailrace fishing platform for bank fishing. The Trust for Public Land purchased hundreds of acres along the lake to preserve the area from development and to protect the drinking water it produces.
Until next week!
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Information taken from:
Charlotte Then and Now, Brandon Lunsford, 2013.
“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass