Located just off a section of Rt. 28, called the Hellbender, Fontana Dam and Fontana Lake are a favorite stopping spot for many motorcyclists. It is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful lakes in North Carolina. There are two scenic spots, or pull-offs, on Rt. 28 east of the dam where one can get a really beautiful view of the lake. The dam itself is about a mile off 28 and well worth the side trip to visit. There are video presentations which you can sit and watch that deal with the history and construction of the dam. A friendly staff is available to answer your questions. I usually always stop and go inside to say hello to the dam man and dam woman. ; )
Although Fontana Dam is located in North Carolina, it is actually part of the TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority) system of dams. Fontana was built during World War II to provide much-needed electricity for the Aluminum Company of American (ALCOA) aluminum production operations for aluminum needed for the war. This dam was also constructed to help control flooding in Tennessee as it is fed by the Little Tennessee River that flows through Tennessee and ends near Lenoir City.
Fontana Dam was completed and went into operation on November 11, 1944. Eventually the ownership of over 40,000 acres along Fontana Lake's north shore was transferred to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and several thousand acres along the south shore was transferred to the U.S. Forest Service. The transfer of land assures the protection of the land and 240 miles of lakeshore for future generations. 90% of land around the lake is owned by either the National Park Service or the U.S. Forest Service.
The 11,700 acre lake, with its deep, cold waters, provides an ideal habitat for the variety of fish. Record-size muskee and walleye have been pulled from Fontana, and in 2001 the Fisherman's Bass Tournament Circuit held its annual Hall of Fame Classic on Fontana because many feel this lake is one of the best small mouth bass lakes in the country.