In 1941, the west fork of the Tuckaseegee River was dammed and the resulting reservoir became what is now known as Lake Glenville. Over the years, its waters became a tourist destination for kayakers, canooers, waterskiiers and pleasure boat enthusiasts who found a cool retreat in the Southeast’s otherwise boiling summers, and its shores have housed a community of year-round residents who can trace their family trees back for generations.
Lake Glenville encompasses 1450 acres and holds the distinction of being the highest elevation lake east of the Mississippi River. Its beginning, though, is a storied one.
As part of the nation’s war efforts entering into World War II, the Aluminum Company of America (ALCOA) needed more electricity to keep up with and increase production. In June 1940, Nantahala Power and Light, then owned by ALCOA, began constructing a dam on the west fork of the Tuckasegee River at Onion Falls. They completed it in late 1941, filling a new lake called Thorpe Reservoir or Lake Glenville. It encompassed the entire valley north of Cashiers, flooding the town of Glenville, including schools, homes, businesses, and farmlands to a depth of 300 feet.
Today, Lake Glenville is a thriving community located between Cashiers and Sylva, NC, and is just a twenty minute drive to Western North Carolina University. To get to Lake Glenville, you only need to go to the crossroads in Cashiers and turn north on Highway 107. Just a few miles down the road, quiet residential communities and area schools give way to marinas and just a few of the lake’s 26 miles of tree-lined shores.
Drive a bit farther and signs of Glenville’s other claim to fame begin to appear as acre after acre of Christmas trees dot the hillsides and valleys. The Christmas tree farms of Western North Carolina grow 99% of the state’s entire output and supplies as much as 20% of the 27-million live trees sold nation-wide during the holiday season, taking part in what has become over a billion-dollar industry in the last three years.