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History of Lake Wylie

Lake Wylie is a man-made lake dividing South Carolina and North Carolina with a surface area of 13,400 acres and features 325 miles of shoreline.

History Facts About Lake Wylie

  • The man-made lake was first formed when the Catawba Power Company built the Catawba Dam and Power Plant near India Hook, South Carolina in 1904. This dam impounded the Catawba River and created Lake Catawba, which was utilized to create hydro-electric power. 
  • In 1905, the Catawba Power Company became part of the Southern Power Company.
  • In 1924, the Southern Power Company raised the level of the dam and built the new Catawba Hydroelectric Station to replace the original. This facility opened in August 1925, increasing the surface area of Lake Catawba from 668 acres (2.70 km2) to 13,400 acres (54.2 km2). The Southern Power Company was merged with Duke Power Company in 1927.
  • In October 1960, the power station was renamed the Wylie Hydroelectric Station, and the lake was renamed Lake Wylie in honor of W. Gil Wylie, one of the founders of the original Catawba Power Company that had created the lake and become Duke Power.
  • Lake Wylie is one of 11 lakes on the Catawba River and is the oldest lake in the Catawba River basin, with water being moved around each lake on the chain system through Duke Power. The lake has a surface area of approximately 13,443 acres (54.361 km2) with 325 miles (523 km) of shoreline, and stretches from the Mountain Island Dam, south of Mountain Island Lake in North Carolina to the Wylie Dam on the south end of the lake. The average depth of the lake is just over 20 feet.
  • A stone monument sunk decades ago by the creation of Lake Wylie may hold the key to exactly where the South Carolina-North Carolina state line is located. The only problem is no one can find the three-foot-high stone marker erected in 1815. For the past several years, a group called the North Carolina-South Carolina Boundary Commission has been using modern technology to redraw the 401-mile border between the Carolinas. They say the stone’s location could alter a 65-mile straight stretch of the state line that runs west from Lake Wylie through six counties by at least several feet.
  • The Catawba River was named for the Native American tribe who first lived in the area, the Catawba Indians. In their own language, the Indians’ name for themselves is Yap Ye Iswe which means “People of the River.”
  • In 1899, Dr. Walker Gil Wylie, a physician, and his brother, Dr. Robert H. Wylie, conceived a plan to build a hydro station at India Hook Shoals near Rock Hill, SC, to generate power to a nearby textile mill.
  • Dr. Wylie and his brother incorporated the Catawba Power Company with financial backing from James “Buck” Duke.

Catawba Lake

  • “Catawba Lake” was created in 1904 when the Catawba Hydro Station (Wylie Dam) was built thereby damming the Catawba River to make electricity. The dam was rebuilt and enlarged in 1924 which expanded the lake to its current size.
  • Catawba Lake, or “the river” as it was commonly known, was renamed Lake Wylie in 1960 after Dr. Walker Gil Wylie. Dr. Wylie was a former president of the Southern Power Company, which merged with the Duke Power Company in 1927. Lake Wylie is the oldest of seven man-made lakes created by Duke Power along the Catawba River to regulate water flow for hydroelectric power.
  • Lake Wylie Hydroelectric Station has four generating units. It is located on the Catawba River in York County, SC, near Fort Mill, SC. It was named for Dr. Gil Wylie, first president of Southern Power Company, a predecessor company of Duke Energy.
  • The Buster Boyd Bridge, a Lake Wylie landmark since 1923, spans the lake connecting NC 49 and SC 49 at the border between North and South Carolina. The bridge was named after a local farmer who campaigned for a bridge across the lake. It was recently rebuilt to accommodate four lanes of traffic.