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An exciting sight to see

SoVaNow.com / October 24, 2012
As a girl growing up in nearby Townsville, N.C., Betty Rae Norwood remembers the building of the dam as an exciting time. “On Sundays mama and daddy would pack a picnic lunch and load us up into the car to go watch the work. We would drive up one way [through North Carolina] and return home another [going through Clarksville] to get the whole experience.”

From the beginning, Norwood said, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) touted the project as a recreational site for people living nearby, as well as for tourists. Among her mementos is a 1948 report written by the Department of the Army Corps of Engineers, Norfolk Division, describing the recreational opportunities created by the dam and reservoir.

The act also … leases of land … in the reservoir areas for recreational purposes … This legislation also provides that water areas of such reservoirs shall be open to public use generally without charge for boating, swimming, bathing, fishing, and other recreational purposes ….

From a child’s perspective, she said the most significant impact of the dam was the disconnect that grew up between where she lived near Townsville and the Clarksville communities. With their movie theaters and other stores, Clarksville and Henderson, N.C. were the big towns where her family would go to shop. Clarksville was closer.

Norwood said, “Before the dam, it was just a short drive into Clarksville, but after the dam, it seemed like it took forever.” The reservoir eliminated several back roads and relocated Highway 15, turning a 10 mile journey into a 20 mile trip.



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