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Fontana Dam
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member PersonsMD
N 35° 27.161 W 083° 48.279
17S E 245454 N 3926861
Quick Description: The Highest dam in the TVA system,and highest concrete dam East of the Rocky Mountains. Completed in 1944 it is 480 feet high and 2,385 feet across. Creates Fontana Lake with 10,230 acres of water surface.
Location: North Carolina, United States
Date Posted: 9/16/2009 3:51:30 AM
Waymark Code: WM77YE
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Marine Biologist
Views: 11

Long Description:
Fontana Dam is a hydroelectric dam on the Little Tennessee River in North Carolina. The dam is operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority, who constructed the dam to address electricity demands in the Tennessee Valley at the height of World War II. At 480 feet high, Fontana is the tallest dam in the Eastern United States, and at the time of its construction, it was the fourth tallest dam in the world. The dam impounds the 10,230-acre Fontana Lake along the southwestern boundary of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The Appalachian Trail crosses the top of the dam.

Height: 480 feet.
Length: 2,365 feet.
Thickness at base: 376 feet.
Power: Three generating units with a total capacity of 241 megawatts.
Construction started: January 1, 1942.
Start to fill reservoir: November 7, 1944.
First electricity generated: January 20, 1945.
Project cost including switchyard: $74,681,000.
Drainage area: 1,571 square miles.
Reservoir volume: 1,443,000 acres-feet.
Lake Area: 10,640 acres
Lake Length: 29 miles.
Shoreline: 248 miles.
Man-hours to build: 34.5 million.
Total concrete poured: 2.8 million cubic yards.
Annual area rainfall: 75-80 inches.

Fontana is the uppermost of five dams on the Little Tennessee River, with Cheoah Dam being 10 miles downstream, followed by Calderwood Dam, Chilhowee Dam, and Tellico Dam.
Reservoir size is approximately 11,700 acres. There is a shoreline of about 240 miles. A visitor center operated by the TVA and tours tell the story of the creation of the dam.
Directions: Follow U.S. 74 west from Bryson City. Turn right at the State Highway 28 turnoff. Follow State Highway 28 until the turnoff to the right for Fontana Dam. From Maryville, follow U.S. 129 south. Turn left at State Highway 28. Go approximately 10 miles to turnoff on left for Fontana Dam.

Dam History:

“The Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) began investigating the Little Tennessee Valley around 1910 in hopes finding a power source for the massive amounts of electricity needed at its aluminum production operations at nearby Alcoa, Tennessee. In 1913, ALCOA purchased the Tallassee Power Company (now Tapoco), and by 1930 the two entities had completed Cheoah and Calderwood dams, as well as Santeetlah Dam on the Cheoah River. By the mid-1930s, ALCOA had investigated the Fontana site and had purchased the initial 15,000 acres (61 km2) for the dam's construction. In 1935, the Tennessee Valley Authority, which was concerned with the Little Tennessee's effect on flood control in the greater Tennessee Valley, began negotiating with ALCOA to assume control of the Fontana project. Although ALCOA preferred TVA build the dam, TVA was unable to get necessary funding for the project until the outbreak of World War II in 1941, when emergency wartime initiatives called for a drastic increase in aluminum production. On August 14, 1941, TVA and ALCOA signed the "Fontana Agreement," which gave TVA possession of Fontana and control over the releases and output of Tapoco's Little Tennessee Valley dams, and in return guaranteed that ALCOA would be the primary benefactor of the dams' electrical output for at least twenty years. Congress authorized funding on December 17, 1941, and construction of Fontana Dam began on January 1, 1942.

The building of Fontana Dam and its reservoir required the purchase of 68,292 acres of land, 5,125 acres of which were forested and had to be cleared. 1,311 families, 1,047 graves, and over 60 miles of roads had to be relocated. The towns of Fontana, Bushnell, Forney, and Judson were completely inundated. The village of Welch Cove (later renamed Fontana Village) was constructed just south of the dam to house the project's workers, whose numbers had reached 5,000 by 1943 in spite of nationwide manpower shortages.

The design of the dam was unusual for TVA at the time. It was feared that the 2,818,000 yd³ of concrete required for the dam would create a structure so massive, that heat released during its setting would be trapped for years, and would eventually cause cracks to form. To aide the release of this heat, engineers divided the dam into contraction joints and outfitted them with grout pipes and cooling coils. The dam's spillway presented another problem, as engineers were worried that the water's 400-foot drop would eventually cause erosion issues at the dam's foundation. A special spillway was thus designed that drains water out through two 34-foot diameter spill pipes into a diversion tunnel equipped with a deflection system (the original deflector was designed in a hydraulics laboratory at Norris, Tennessee).The dam's design is largely the work of TVA Chief Architect Roland Wank.

Fontana Dam was completed and the gates closed on November 11, 1944, at a cost of $70,420,688.48. Two generating units were placed in operation on January 20, 1945, in time to provide crucial energy for aluminum production in the closing months of World War II. Over 40,000 acres (160 km2) along Fontana Lake's north shore were eventually transferred to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and several thousand acres along the south shore were transferred to the U.S. Forest Service.”

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