Fontana Dam, the largest dam of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system, is localized on the Little Tennessee River in Graham County! Completed in 1945, it is a gravity-type concrete structure four hundred eighty feet high, two thousand, three hundred sixty-five feet in length, and three hundred seventy-six feet broad at its base!
The six-story powerhouse of reinforced concrete with walls of glass is found at the base of the dam. Quintessential of TVA engineering, Fontana is multipurpose, providing hydroelectric power, flood control, navigation, and recreation!
Fontana Dam was developed as a part of the war effort. Formerly owned by the Aluminum Company of America, the site had been acquired by the TVA after prolonged negotiations. Because it was situated in a remote, mountainous area about sixty miles from both Knoxville, Tenn., and Asheville, N.C., highways, bridges, and rail lines had to be built to bring in construction equipment, supplies, and workers!
In November 1944 Fontana Lake began to fill, and on 20 Jan. 1945, three years after construction had started, the powerhouse produced electricity for the first time! The project had cost $74.7 million, consumed 2.8 million cubic yards of concrete, and required 34.5 million man-hours to build! The dam created a reservoir of more than 11,000 acres with a 240-mile shoreline and a drainage area of more than 1,500 square miles!
By the early 2000s, the three generating units at Fontana Dam had a total productive capacity of 225,000 kilowatts. In addition, the TVA controlled flooding of the Little Tennessee River through a process of storing and releasing water from the reservoir!
Recreational activities included fishing, boating, and swimming on Fontana Lake! The Appalachian Trail, which extends over 2,000 miles from Georgia to Maine, crosses the summit of Fontana Dam! 🌤🏞