The Hiwassee Dam is one of my favorite things to see here in Murphy NC. If I’m showing homes or land in the area, I always love to take folks to see it. At 307 feet, Hiwassee Dam is the third tallest dam in the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) system. It stretches 1,376 feet from bank to bank of the river, and I must admit, is an amazing sight to stand at the bottom of and see just how big it really is. It was part of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal to provide work for people and help bring the United States out of the Great Depression.
Named after the Hiwassee River, the dam is responsible for creating Lake Hiwassee and generating an impressive 185 Megawatts of power.
Construction began on Hiwassee Dam on July 15, 1936, and it officially opened for operation on February 8, 1940. At a price tag of 24 million at that time, it was a sizable, and expensive, undertaking. It had dual purposes – to generate power for the region and provide flood control for the Chattanooga area, which is why you see the waters of Lake Hiwassee lower in the colder seasons of the year.
Building the dam required purchasing 24,102 acres. It took 3,836 acres that had to be completely cleared. What’s even more amazing is that it required 261 families, 462 graves, and 25 miles of roads that had to be completely relocated to a new area.
So while you’re here in Murphy, you certainly need to go see the Hiwassee Dam. It’s a great area attraction that’s beautiful in its own right. To get to it from Murphy, take 64 West. Turn right on 294. Follow to a right on Hiwassee Dam Access Road. Follow it a few miles and you’ll drive right over the dam.
Sources cited: TVA and Wikipedia