There’s More Than ‘Nessie’ in This North Carolina Lake


There’s more than Nessie, all right…There’s a heap of hard feelings, too………….

Rib-like strands of sand descend from a copse of trees, testament to the lowered water level of Lake Fontana, in western North Carolina, 35 miles from Bryson City (In the prior link, Wikipedia gives ‘just the facts, ma’am’ Dragnet-style; it doesn’t get into the bitter feelings the action provoked.)

‘Strangely beautiful’ to some, ‘eerie’ to others for the graveyard status the town took on when Fontana was buried by an act of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).   Yes, almost overnight,  a man-made lake was created that stretches for miles.  But since the government allegedly gave the property owners, ‘pennies on the dollars,’ that act was bitterly resented by many.

Film footage exists showing unyielding townspeople being carted away, physically, in chairs, on flat-bed trucks, rather than leave willingly.

Yes, the TVA came in, claimed the lands via ’eminent domain,’ bulldozed through rock and earth, and created that lake which stretches for miles to create hydro-power electricity for nearby cities.  In so doing, they created a watery graveyard for the town which now sits below the water’s surface.

James Cameron’s new movie about what lies below in the deepest oceans has nothing on this true-to-life tale (Click on this link–it’s awesome!.) And why is Rolex involved with Cameron’s adventure? (again, click on that link.)  Is it like the old Timex ads:  “They take a licking and keep on ticking?” (rhetorical, I’m sure.)

At certain times of the year, when dam operators lower the lake’s water level, the town’s outlying foundations can be seen through translucent waters.  Scuba-divers have been known to explore the sunken buildings and visitors to the region hire pontoon boats by the hour to investigate the many finger-like tributaries of the lake, hoping for a glimpse of the watery remains of the town of Fontana.

How’d we get to hear about this most mysterious setting?  From Austin Hamilton, a young man who works at High Country West, a furniture and design emporium (‘shop’ doesn’t do it justice) in Waynesville, NC.

Do you know of a similar situation where the government took over the property of others, supposedly for the greater need (like hydro-electric power for thousands), leaving those who lost their property high and dry (pun intended)?  Weigh in…

And tell us:  What do you think about the townspeople of Fontana?  Do you think they got a dirty deal? Could the government do this to your little spot of paradise?  Weigh in at Comment section, below….

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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