It literally started with a bang. After a groundbreaking ceremony the day before, Duke Energy detonated the first blast along the Catawba River in Huntersville to start construction on Cowans Ford Dam on Sept. 29, 1959. Four years later, in late September 1963, the dam was completed and Lake Norman, the state’s largest manmade body of fresh water, was created. The changes Lake Norman has brought to the area are nothing short of amazing. Over the past half-century, Lake Norman has gone from a sparsely populated area with little in the way of infrastructure or amenities to one of the region’s most prominent destinations, with some 130,000 residents. With its booming business climate, wonderful schools, lively cultural and retail centers, gourmet restaurants, luxury waterfront communities, and scenic parks, there’s no wonder the area is so popular. And we haven’t even mentioned the lake—a 32,510-acre playground for boating, swimming, and fishing that also provides some of the most beautiful views around.To help celebrate Lake Norman’s 50th anniversary, we’ve put together a special feature that illustrates the area’s dramatic growth and changes over the years and why it’s such a thriving, wonderful resource. As the original publication about the “Inland Sea,” we’re proud and honored to help commemorate this milestone with our readers. Here’s to another fifty years for our favorite lake! For our complete 50th Anniversary package, please see our Features section. —Sam Boykin
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