Fontana Dam

Clingmans secret tunnel

Deb Campbell

Hikers, outdoorsmen, photographers, and locals reveal their favorite treasures of “the back of beyond”—from secluded trails and fishing streams to quiet overlooks and picnic spots. Read more

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Still a baby

Photo courtesy of Fontana Village

Fontana Dam was a cog in the American war machine. The massive concrete bulwark—rock-solid, impenetrable, and unrivaled—proved a powerful image. It was an engineering marvel, a testament to the country’s strength and determination. Read more

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  • Stand up and paddle

    Garret K. Woodward photo

    Stand up and paddle

    The lake is 29 miles long but has an astounding 238 miles of shoreline due to its many snaking coves. There are no designated swimming beaches, as the steep shore makes it hard to access the water’s edge, but anywhere one can make his or her way to the water, one can swim. It's a popular destination for anyone wanting to spend some time on the water, in whatever form.

  • Housing war effort workers

    Sarah E. Kucharski photo

    Housing war effort workers

    As the operations grew at the Manhattan Project site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., the community also grew, and more houses were needed to accommodate workers and their families. The Tennessee Valley Authority made available drawings of one-story single family prefabricated units that were used for families who moved in to help construct Fontana Dam. These units, called Flat Tops, were transported in 8-foot by 24-foot sections and assembled on site. One of Oak Ridge’s original Flat Top houses is on display at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge.

  • Still a baby

    Photo courtesy of Fontana Village

    Still a baby

    Construction of Fontana Dam began in early 1942. It took 36 months to build, and another 36 months to fill the lake. It started making power for the war effort in early 1945. This nighttime view of the dam was photographed on July 23, 1946.

  • Lake and Dam today

    Photo courtesy of Tennessee Valley Authority

    Lake and Dam today

    Fontana Lake is 30 miles long, but has 238 miles of snaking, twisting shoreline. Its rim follows some of the most rugged, warped topography in the country. From the air, its hooked appendages look like an elaborate fractal.

  • Grinding away

    Photo courtesy of Fontana Village

    Grinding away

    Pictured is the aggregate plant and sand reclaiming plant. The plant provided crushed stone for various construction projects around the site.

  • Long way down

    Photo courtesy of Fontana Village

    Long way down

    Workers are lowered down Bushnell Bluff in saddles to prevent them from falling as they work.