Visiting Fontana Dam

Today was a nice break from the busyness I've been experiencing lately. I headed to the North Carolina side of the park without much of a plan, and that let me focus on actually enjoying myself.

On my drive there, I had to go through US129, otherwise known as the Tail of the Dragon. It's known y many as the curviest road in the... well I'm not really sure what scale they use, but it sure is curvy! 

Not my image, obviously...

In just eleven miles, the road curves 318 times, many of which are some pretty sharp turns. It's frequented by bikers and Mini Coopers who like to take the turns at dangerous speeds. Now, I was in an NPS minivan, so I didn't partake in any of that, but it was still fun to hear the tires squeal, despite only going 15mph.

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My destination, however, was Fontana Lake, on the very southwest edge of the park. More specifically, I wanted to see the Fontana Dam.

The dam was built by the Tennessee Valley Authority during the 1940s, and it has a fascinating history.

480 feet high, and 2,365 feet wide. That's a lot of concrete!

As America was pulled into World War II, the government realized we had a lot of work to do if we wanted to stand a chance against the Axis powers. That's where the TVA came in. They were commissioned by the federal government to significantly add to its system of dams in order to generate the power it would take to manufacture materials used to created the majority of our air force for the war.

Long way down... (also my first ever attempt at a vertical panorama)

The Fontana Dam was the largest of these dams, and it was built in less than three years thanks to wartime conditions and needs. The TVA estimates that a project of its size would take nearly ten years nowadays!

All in all, it was a really interesting trip that made me realize how much I love America history. If you want some more info on the story of the dam, check out: 

http://www.tva.com/heritage/fontana/index.htm