Found amongst some personal belongings of a family member was a brochure detailing the forests and flowers of the area surrounding Lakes Keowee and Jocassee. In fact, this brochure was printed while the construction of the lakes were still in progress!
The beauty of these man-made lakes with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop seem to fit in the area so effortlessly we, at least those of us not around when construction took place, tend to forget all that went into the making of these highly enjoyed landmarks.
The task of preparing the river basins for these two lakes was performed by the Crescent Land and Timber Company, a subsidiary of Duke at the time. This company was dedicated to the wise management and use of the lands. Clearing was completed in the Fall of 1969 after four years of work by hundreds of men! Before the clearing of what is now under water, extensive research and recording took place to document the various trees, shrubs, and flowers of the area. Many of the sections of the forest are still preserved this day as it is above the Lake Jocassee water line and owned by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. One such area is the Coon Branch Natural Area in the Bad Creek Hydro Station. Here you can hike to the Lower Whitewater Falls (not a popular as Upper Whitewater Falls as it does require a little more effort). This area is also home to South Carolina’s biggest fraser fur! Thankfully, the people and companies involved in bringing the lakes to life understood the importance replanting a variety of trees. In fact, Duke Power and their subsidiary planted almost 38 million seedlings within several years before the lakes’ completion as well as a reforestation program that had them planting 1.9 million trees per year! This attention to reforestation reduced the erosion of the land and is one of the reasons the water of these lakes are so clean and clear.
There are numerous reasons to visit or move to these beautiful lakes. We hope you are able to enjoy Lakes Keowee and Jocassee for yourself!