Today I drove to the bottom of the Fontana Dam. I visited the top of the dam on Sunday (6/11) with one of my nephews, but we could not visit the bottom. Some police and military were there conducting some training exercises. I wanted to visit yesterday, but one of my nephews told me that the road to the bottom of the dam was blocked by military vehicles. Today I was able to visit. I will begin this post with the photos I took on Sunday and today at the top followed by the photos I took today at the bottom.
The Fontana Dam was built on the Little Tenneesee River during World War 2 to provide flood control and to generate hydo-electric power to process allumium for fighter planes and to enrich uranium in Oakridge, TN.
The Fontana dam is 480 feet high and 2,365 feet long. It is the highest dam east of the Rockies. The water level can vary about 56 feet throughout the year. Last November I saw the water low enough to walk to the island in this photo. I did walk to the island once many years ago.
My nephew and I walked across the dam and back. The mountains look great here. The Appalachian Trail crossses the dam, and so we are standing on the trail in this shot.
The view of the bottom of the dam is impressive as well
The spillways are quite large.
Years ago tourists could ride a cable car down the hill to the power station where they could see the turbines and learn how the dam worked. I took that tour once as a child and once in college. It was closed after the September 11 attacks, and the inside of the dam is now off limits to the public (except for a visit by Larry the Cable Guy in an episode of Only in America). In this photo you can see the bottom of the cable car track. The rest of the track is completely overgrown.
Views from the visitors center. Inside visitors can learn the history of the dam.
Views from the roof of the visitors center. Here visitors can learn about the wildlife common to the area.
This photo was on display at the front desk. It was taken about two years ago outside the visitor’s center. An employee told me they see bears every year.
The lake at the top of the dam is a great place to take a boat ride. My family plans to rent a pontoon boat at the marina tomorrow. We will take the dogs, and so I am eager to watch them as they enjoy swimming in the lake. They are both labs, and so I expect they will have a great time in the water.
Before I went to the bottom of the dam, my brother-in-law and I went to the marina to check on boat rental prices. While we were there I saw these ducks.
I then went alone to the bottom of the dam. This video shows my approach.
The dam and power station, and a turbine blade
Here you can see the cable car track descending the hill into the power station.
This rock face is at the beginning of the road leading toward the bottom of the dam. My father told me years ago that material for building the dam was quarried here.
A briefly drove through the campgrounds on the other side of the river.