Lake Lure’s “Million Dollar Dam”
When it was completed in 1925, the “Million Dollar Dam” that created scenic Lake Lure was the largest dam in the North Carolina Mountains. The price tag at the time was right at one million dollars, thus the label.
The dam generated enough electricity to power the entire Lake Lure, Chimney Rock area. It’s main purpose was to create a lake where home sites could be sold along its shoreline. Unfortunately for the developers, the Great Depression soon followed, and the dam and development, which also included a hotel, went into bankruptcy.
Over the years, the dam proved to be a very good investment. Large homes were built around the lake, and the dam continued to produce valuable power.
Lake Lure on December 23, 2018. The mirror-like surface gives little hint of what is happening under the surface.
Lake Lure is a “Constant Level” lake, controlled by the dam. Nowadays, the dam only produces power two days a week, unless events and weather intervene. Over the past two weeks, after a record snowfall of 18″, combined with six inches of rain, the lake has risen much too fast, and one of the main spillways in the dam has been opened for over a week now. This is rare for the 93 year old dam.
The Broad River, that feeds the lake, has become a raging torrent as it passes through Hickory Nut Gap, on its way toward Columbia, South Carolina.
The temperature when these photos were made was in the mid-twenties, otherwise the river would be ideal for rafting and kayaking. These are Class V rapids, the roughest they come.