Lake Wylie Information - History and Facts

 


Photo by Jan Todd with  Deep Creek Photography - visit website

General Facts

Lake Wylie  is a man-made lake located in North Carolina and South Carolina. The lake covers a surface area of about 13,400 acres has 325 miles of shore line. Lake Wylie is located in three different counties:  York County (in South Carolina), Gaston County (in North Carolina), and Mecklenburg County (in North Carolina).  The unique diversity in the three counties offers potential residents a wide variety of lifestyle choices.  Tega Cay, Fort Mill, Rock Hill, Lake Wylie (including York and Clover), Belmont, and southern Charlotte have different "personalities", different school opportunities, variety in shopping and amenities.

Real estate on Lake Wylie offers lots of choices.  There are several waterfront neighborhoods, with similar styled homes, neighborhood associations and regulations, amenities such as community pools, golf, and tennis.  There are also quite a few rural areas of the lake, with diverse styled homes and properties.  On some areas of the lake, a new million dollar home may sit beside a fifty year old 2 bedroom cabin.

There are still some undeveloped areas of Lake Wyie as well.  Waterfront lots are available in some newly released tracts of waterfront land.  Other waterfront building sites are available on lots that may currently have older cabins on them.

Lake Wylie is one of eleven lakes on the Catawba River, the second oldest lake in the Catawba River Chain.  The Catawba River Chain of lakes is operated as a system by Duke Power, with water being moved around each lake as needed by the power company. 

The Catawba Nuclear power plant is located on the southwestern part of the lake, and draws its cooling water from the lake. On the northern part of the lake (west of Charlotte), the Allen Steam plant also draws its cooling water from the lake.

Because lake levels are managed by the power company, Lake Wylie generally does not experience radical fluctuations in lake water levels.  Lake Wylie is a "year round" lake, and residents enjoy fishing, boating, and water recreation all year long.

 lake wylie

History of Lake Wylie

Lake Wylie has changed greatly since its “birth” in 1904. Until that moment, the area now known as Lake Wylie had simply been part of the blue, 224 mile Catawba River. The river was an important resource: years before, it was the lifeblood of the Catawba (“river-people”) and other Sioux tribes.  Later the river would not only sustain the Europeans who settled and planted near its banks, it would also provide steam power to local industries. Unfortunately, the river, flood-prone, shoal-filled, and dotted with waterfalls, was too turbulent to permit the kind of water traffic that could have truly made it a formidable industrial presence.  It wasn’t until the early 1900's that a handful of men recognized the river’s powerful potential.  

One of these men was Dr. Walker Gil Wylie, a well-respected New York physician and former resident of Chester, SC. In addition to his extensive medical experience, Dr. Wylie also had an engineering background. That, coupled with exposure to all the newest research and developments in science, spurred his interest in doing something about the stagnant industrial situation of the area around his hometown. A graduate engineer from the University of South Carolina, William C. Whitneer, joined with Dr. Wylie and others to build a dam and an experimental hydroelectric plant in Anderson, S.C. Following the success of this venture, Dr. Wylie and his brother created the Catawba Power Company in 1900, and began work on a dam near Fort Mill, SC. When the dam was completed in 1904, the lake that resulted was christened "Catawba Lake." In 1924, the dam was rebuilt, bringing the lake's surface to over 13 thousand acres and 325 miles of shoreline. In 1960, the lake was renamed to honor the man who turned the Catawba River into Lake Wylie.

Lake Wylie would eventually be only one of eleven lakes in the Catawba River chain. Electric power would completely transform the area, carrying the local textile mills into their golden age, bringing people, roads, and prosperity. Each year would see more lakes, more power plants, and the growth of what would eventually be known as Duke Energy. Today, Lake Wylie continues to be a major energy center supporting the Wylie Hydroelectric Station, Allen Steam Station and the Catawba Nuclear Station. The lake also serves as a water supply for Rock Hill, SC and Belmont, NC. 

While the Lake Wylie area is no longer the untamed, natural wilderness of the days of the Catawba tribe, it remains a place of beauty and growth. Beautiful homes grace the waterfront.  Duke Power provides six public boat access areas. Residents enjoy the fishing, camping, and restaurants around the lake. And as the population around the lake grows, organizations such as the Riverkeepers will keep watch, helping to ensure that Lake Wylie and the other lakes of the Catawba River continue to be dependable, invaluable resources to the Carolinas.