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Huntersville brothers win U.S. history award

By Ann Doss Helms
ahelms@charlotteobserver.com

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  • Watch the documentary

    “Hydroelectric Carolinas,” the 10-minute video created by Ethan and Quinn Schneider, is at http://youtu.be/rLTYktcb6Ko.



Quinn and Ethan Schneider of Huntersville won a first-place National History Day award for their documentary on the origin of the hydroelectric dams along the Catawba River.

National History Day draws entries from thousands of students across the United States and in a handful of other countries. Middle and high school students compete in historical documentaries, websites, performances, papers and exhibits.

Quinn, 14, who attends Woodlawn School in Davidson, and Ethan, a home-schooled 12-year-old, spent a year researching what they call “a chance meeting between a man with vision and a man with money.”

Dr. Gill Wylie created the plan for the system, and James “Buck” Duke financed it. The boys’ 10-minute video tells how a 1904 meeting between the two, who grew up along the Catawba River, led to the creation of Duke Energy and 11 lakes in North and South Carolina, including Lake Wylie. The documentary also shows how a devastating flood in 1916 added urgency to the quest to “tame” the river, and how the hydroelectric dams led to the birth of the Carolinas’ textile industry and shaped the development of modern Charlotte.

They took first place in the documentary division for middle school groups. Awards were presented Thursday at University of Maryland in College Park.

Jo Ann Williford, who has been working with North Carolina’s program for 16 years, said this is the first time in her experience the state has had a first-place winner.

Helms: 704-358-5033
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