Over the Little T

June 18, 2008

Here's Fontana Dam - built during WW II to provide electricity for Alcoa's aluminum plant over in the Great Valley, but secretly also for Oak Ridge to refine uranium for the bomb. Actually, Alcoa had planned the dam years earlier and started buying up the land at the site, so when TVA took it over in 1942 it was a project well along in design.

It was built at a spot called "The Narrows" on the Little Tennessee River, covering up a number of small towns dating from lumbering and mining activities.

The dam and its visitor center are quite a model of International Style design, including some Breuer furnishings still in place in the marble-lined Ladies Room (I mean it, marble walls all around and terrazzo floors) which still has all its vintage fittings and light fixtures. The original segregated bathrooms have been converted into excellent free showers for hikers.

The view south (top - you can see the Visitor Center at the right) shows where I've already hiked; the view north (below) with the spillway gates, looks at the route up into the Great Smoky Mountains.

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