Around Town

How Lake Norman and Lake Wylie got their names

It’s lake season, people. Perhaps you’re jazzed about the opening of the first swimming beach at a Mecklenburg County-run park since the 1970s — the beach at Ramsey Creek Park on Lake Norman just opened May 28.

Perhaps you prefer sailing around on your yacht on Lake Wylie, or fantasizing about said yacht. (Don’t forget: you can join a boat club and rent instead of buy.)

But before your next leap into the water, a little trivia: How did Lake Norman and Lake Wylie get their names?

Answer #1

Lake Norman was named after Norman Cocke, former president of Duke Power Company (now Duke Energy).

How the lake was made:

Lake Norman was created by Cowans Ford Dam, which was built to dam the Catawba River in 1963. The lake is the largest manmade body of fresh water in North Carolina.

More trivia:

Lake Norman has 520 miles of shoreline and a surface area of more than 32,475 acres. Its waters power the generators at Cowans Ford Hydroelectric Station and by Marshall Steam Station and McGuire Nuclear Station, cooling the steam that drives the turbines. The steam is then condensed back to water, pumping back through the plants for reuse.


Worth noting: Duke Energy started damming the Catawba River in the early 1900s to source hydroelectric power. Which brings us to…

Answer #2

Lake Wylie was named after Dr. W. Gil Wylie, who was responsible for organizing the Catawba Power Company, a predecessor of Duke Energy.

How the lake was made:

Lake Wylie is actually the oldest lake on the Catawba River, created in 1904 by a dam near Fort Mill.

More trivia:

The rebuilding of the dam in 1924 stretched the lake’s surface to 13,443 acres and 325 miles of shoreline. Lake Wylie provides power to Wylie Hydroelectric Station, supplies cooling water to Allen Steam Station and Catawba Nuclear Station, and serves as a water supply for Belmont and Rock Hill.

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And there you are. Now all that’s left is to pack your cooler and find your floaties.

Photos: John D. Simmons/Charlotte Observer, Todd Sumlin/Charlotte Observer