Lake Hiwassee

More than 200 feet deep!

Lake Hiwassee, also called Hiwassee reservoir, is 22 miles long, covers 6,090 acres and is more than 200 feet deep in places. The lake’s 163 miles of shoreline is almost entirely controlled by the National Forest Service as part of the Nantahala National Forest. The lake was created and is managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority as part of the Tennessee River system. The Tennessee River system’s primary purpose is to provide low-cost, reliable hydroelectric power to the residents of the Tennessee Valley.

Tallest Overspill Dam in the World!

Lake Hiwassee was formed by the construction of Hiwassee Dam for the purpose of generating hydroelectric power. Built in 1935, Hiwassee Dam is the tallest overspill dam in the world at 307 feet tall and 1,376 feet wide. In 1955, a second generating unit was added to the dam, along with the world’s largest electric motor and reversible pump-turbine. This enables water from the dam to be used to generate electricity during peak hours. During off-hours, water is then pumped 205-feet back into the Hiwassee reservoir for reuse.

TVA Flood Control

Lake Hiwassee and other lakes in the Tennessee River system are also used by the TVA to control flooding. For this reason, Lake Hiwassee’s water level is reduced by as much as 60 feet in the winter months. This reduction in lake levels is due to increased power generation and in anticipation of any heavy snowfalls and spring rains the area may receive. Mountain View Marina has been designed to cope with these lake level changes. Lake Hiwassee does not freeze and remains navigable so our boat owners enjoy year round access to the lake.

Fun Facts

  • 163 miles of shoreline are almost entirely National Forest
  • President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” commissioned the construction of Hiwassee Dam
  • Work began July 15, 1936 with a crew of 1600 men.
  • The lake formed Feb. 8, 1940, three years and eight months later.
  • During WWII the US Navy conducted torpedo testing in Lake Hiwassee
  • Hiwassee Dam is the largest overspill Dam in the world at over 300 feet!
  • Hoover Dam on the Arizona-Nevada border at 725 feet high more than doubles Hiwassee, but the water does not overspill the top of the Dam!
  • The lake is over 200 feet deep in several places
  • During lake construction, hundreds of families and graves were relocated and communities were flooded
  • Only trees that extended above or near the planned 1532 “full pool” elevation line were cleared.
  • Hiwassee Dam cost $21M which translates to over $300M in today’s dollars
  • There are 793,000 cubic yards of concrete in the Dam.