A white Ford F-150 eases off of U.S. 70 just outside of downtown Catawba. The muddy truck turns onto a dirt road and stops at a locked gate. Donald Reid climbs out, pops the lock, and pushes the gate forward.He returns to the truck and drives through the opening, into a land of overgrown used-to-be cornfields. Limbs scrape the hood, and a fresh layer of mud cakes the tires. Reid puts on the brakes beside a clearing and steps out again. He walks through a narrow band of trees and stands on the edge of Lake Norman. Few people see the lake like this.This 71.83-acre property is considered lakefront, but riverfront is more accurate. It lies on the northern end of Lake Norman, in a crook of the river run just before the lake further narrows into river and turns toward the west. The property has 1,700 feet of water frontage and is one of the last remaining lakefront tracts owned by Crescent Communities. Reid is its caretaker.The property is for sale. Like most of the 40,000 acres that Crescent owns around Lake Norman, Lake Wateree, Mountain Island Lake, Lake James, Lake Rhodhiss, and Lake Keowee, this property has a sign out front touting its size, quality, and location. Its convenience is key, one mile from U.S. 70 and two miles to I-40. It’s about an hour from Charlotte and equidistant between Hickory and Statesville.It was almost sold. The town of Hickory expressed interest, so Reid stopped the agricultural lease to prepare for the sale. But the deal fell through, and the fields grew up. About 10 years ago, Reid worked with a consultant for months to earn approval from 14 different agencies to build a public marina here. Several housing developments were planned for the surrounding land. The permit-ready property, plus the guarantee of new residents who would fill the marina slips with their boats, should’ve been enough incentive to earn buyers’ attention. But then the economy slid and the developments halted and the vision of a full marina disappeared.These days a lot of people look, Reid says, but only a small percentage purchase. Reid spends much of his time showing these properties to potential buyers. Other times, he may be running a chain saw, driving a bulldozer, or walking through the woods doing whatever the land demands. Reid is vice president of land management for Crescent Communities.When Duke Power built Cowans Ford Dam across the Catawba River and flooded the land that became Lake Norman in the early 1960s, it bought much of the property that the lake would affect. Water covered some parcels, and others became lakefront land. Duke then created Crescent Resources in 1969 to manage its land holdings. Through the 1970s and early 1980s, Crescent stuck to its land-management and ornamental divisions.The ornamental group grew nursery plants and trees for sale to contractors. Reid joined Crescent in 1988. As a farmer in Caldwell County, he was hit hard by consecutive droughts in the mid-’80s.“My wife and I were farming 65 to 70 hours a week to break even,” Reid says. “And I got tired of it.”He had a wood technology degree from the forestry department at N.C. State University, so he began working in Crescent’s ornamental division. The company once had about 350 acres devoted to nursery production with 1,200 trees to the acre. Crescent shipped a couple of hundred tractor-trailer loads of trees in the spring and fall to Connecticut, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Illinois.“We had a good time back then, but we worked like absolutely crazy,” Reid says.In the mid-’80s, Crescent opened its residential branch and began constructing developments in Charlotte, where the corporate headquarters are located. Then in 1989, Crescent began selling land inside The Peninsula, its first residential development on Lake Norman. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s Crescent grew its residential and commercial divisions. It stretched throughout the Southeast, turning 20,660 acres of the South Carolina Low Country into the Palmetto Bluff resort community and building commercial developments in Nashville, Tenn., and Tampa and Orlando, Fla.When Crescent closed its ornamental division in the late 1990s, Reid moved into the forestry division, which evolved into land management and sales. Today he is one of six primary land consultants in his division.Crescent Communities became a separate entity from Duke Energy, formerly Duke Power, in 2006. In early September, Whit Duncan, a 15-year Crescent employee, became the president of land sales. His task is to facilitate the sale of the remaining 40,000 acres of Crescent land around the lakes to provide capital for Crescent’s development divisions.A native and resident of Florida, Duncan relies on the knowledge of land managers, such as Reid, to help him do his job. Sitting in his office in a nondescript building on the border between Terrell and Sherrills Ford, Reid leans back in his desk chair and recounts local history to Duncan.“I remember when Lake Norman was built,” Reid says. “My oldest sister was going to school in Concord, and I remember we were crossing to go pick her up on (N.C. Highway) 150, and then the next time we went, it was flooded, and we had to go around a different way.”Many of the houses and buildings were torn down before the lake was filled. But some structures remain standing beneath the water’s surface.“There are factories under the lake,” Reid says. “There’s one on the north end that I can find once in a while with the depth finder because you’re running along and you’re at a certain depth, and all of a sudden it jumps 12 feet straight up and then runs perfectly flat for about 300 yards and then it drops off again.” A large map of Lake Norman covers Reid’s back wall. (He devotes his other wall space to pictures of his Brittany hunting dogs and a “Wolfpack Parking Only” sign.) He runs his finger along the lakeshore pointing out plots Crescent once owned and those still for sale. There’s a 179-acre tract on one side of Hudson Chapel Road, and a 478-acre piece on the other side. There are about 25 acres on Kiser Island. And then there are these 71.83 acres on the north end that was almost owned by Hickory and almost a marina. The Crescent Communities website lists that property at $718,300.Reid has a vision for it. He thinks it should be a campground with a public marina. And maybe it will be. But until the right person takes a look, it remains an old cornfield relinquished to creeping briars and growing saplings, reflecting what once was and waiting for what’s to come.