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Lake Norman & Lincoln County: Historical Relationship

Lake Norman & Lincoln County: Historical Relationship

Real Estate Auction in Lincoln County

Real Estate Auction in Lincoln County

The development of the lakeshore, specifically in Lincoln County has not always taken the most straightforward route. Prior to and during the development of the lake, there was a variety of plans and ideas for lake access circulating around Lincoln county, many of which have fallen by the wayside. This evolution can be studied by looking at the rhetoric found in contemporaneous newspaper articles from the Lincoln County News.

The lake was always first and foremost meant for the production of electricity. This was Duke Energy’s primary goal and what plans were designed around (“King-size lake”). Nevertheless, even as the Cowans Ford Station was being built, other opportunities around the lake were recognized. In the late 1950s, journalists and officials in Lincoln County hailed the lake as a potential “sportsman’s playground for water-wacky Carolinians” (“King-size lake”). After Governor Hodges talked about “a big recreational area” on the lake, these ideas took off (“Gov. Hodges”). By 1961, the state of North Carolina chose to focus on the Lake Norman region to build new parks in hopes of accommodating all time high rates of park use (“Lake Norman Park site”). In the summer of 1961, plans for the Lake Norman Recreation Area were well underway, with a search being undertaken for suitable sites around the lake, including in Lincoln County. A planning authority made up of the 4 Lake counties was created and charged with the task of managing the expected 100,000 person who would be on or around the 520-mile long shoreline (“Lake Norman Recreation Area”). While various residents had plans for everything from SCUBA diving to amphibious airports, it is important to note that by this time Duke Energy had their own plans. Duke plans called for an industrial zone around the Lake to harness waterpower and 10 specific public access areas. In the end, the goal was for the Lake Norman area to be “the best planned recreational area ever established” (“Lake Norman Recreation Area”).

Nevertheless, during this period of rapid change as the Lake filled, ideas about lake use also began to change. By the end of 1961, Duke Power had chosen a spot in Iredell County to donate to the state for use as a park. While Duke wanted to continue their policy of “public service in the areas of recreation and conservation,” this was only “as a by-product” of power generation (“State Accepts Title”). With the selection of Troutman for the park, public access development in Lincoln County began to wane. Plans for the “Lake Norman Boulevard,” a highway connecting Mecklenburg, Lake Norman, and Lincolnton were never funded and the highways were not developed for many years (“Lake Norman Boulevard”). It was at this point, as the Lake was becoming filled, that the economic potential for “literally hundreds of homes” to be built on the Lake was being realized, a trend that continues to this day.

All information sourced from articles originally published in the Lincoln County News. For full information see Sources page. With thanks to the Lincoln County Historical Association.