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Lake Jocassee is a , deep reservoir located in northwest South Carolinamarker created by the state in partnership with Duke Power in 1973. The clean and cold Appalachianmarker mountain rivers that feed the lake keep its waters cool year-round. The hydroelectric dam that formed the lake is high and long. The lake is home to Devils Fork State Parkmarker.

Although most manmade structures were demolished prior to the creation of the lake, divers recently discovered the remains of a lodge which was left intact until the lake rose and now sits below 300 feet of water; a hilltop graveyard with headstones also remains more than 130 feet under the water.


Lake Jocassee and the surrounding bodies of water.
The waters of Lake Jocassee are supplied by a confluence of four rivers. The Whitewater Rivermarker, is the furthest west of the rivers, flows southeast until it meets the northwest corner of Lake Jocassee. The Thompson River, flows due south until it also reaches the lake in the northwest corner. The Horsepasture Rivermarker feeds the lake from the northeast corner, along with the Toxaway River, which is directly east of the Horsepasture Rivermarker.

The Jocassee Hydro Station, located in the southeast corner of Lake Jocassee, separates it from the beginning of Lake Keowee, also known as the Keowee River. Lake Keowee's furthest extent to the south brings it close to the city of Senecamarker, with the old mill town of Newrymarker actually on it. Unlike Lake Jocassee, Keowee is heavily settled, primarily because the land adjacent to Lake Jocassee is owned by Duke Power and the State of South Carolinamarker.

Natural History

A rare wildflower, the Oconee Bell (Shortia galacifolia), native to only a few counties in the Blue Ridge area, was discovered in the area in 1788 by Frenchmarker botanist Andre Michaux. The creation of Lake Jocassee is said to have caused the destruction of the heart of the species' range. More recently, biologists have documented the occurrence of a number of rare, threatened and endangered species. The Eastatoee Gorge Heritage Preserve was transferred from Duke Power Company to the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in 1979 due to the extremely diverse flora occurring there.

Wildlife management efforts in the Jocassee Gorges area began as early as the 1930s when the Chief Game Warden managed the stocking of trout from the Cleveland State Fish Hatchery, Table Rock State Hatchery, and the Walhalla National Fish Hatchery. This led to the investigation and improvement of fish populations in the area. People hiking, hunting, fishing, or nature watching benefit from the fish stocking and law enforcement of the Game Management Program (now WMA).


The name Jocassee comes from the legend of a Cherokee maiden. An Oconee tribe, the "Brown Vipers" led by Chief Attakulla, inhabited the west side of the Whitewater river, while a rival tribe, "The Green Birds", lived on the east. Legend says that a young Green Bird warrior,
Lake Jocassee from the Bad Creek entrance to the lake.
Nagoochee, was not afraid to enter Brown Viper hunting grounds. On one occasion, he fell and broke his leg and was convinced he was going to die. Then he heard Jocassee, Attakulla's daughter, who brought him back to her father's lodge and nursed him back to health. Jocassee eventually fell in love with him, but in a later battle, Cheochee, Jocassee's brother, killed and brought Nagoochee's head back on his belt. Legend has it that Jocassee went into the water and did not sink but walked across the water to meet the ghost of Nagoochee. The name Jocassee means "Place of the Lost One."

The Jocassee Gorges area was once home to the part of the Cherokee Nation; it now lies beneath the surface of the lake, near the Toxaway River. Nearby Keowee Townmarker was a major hub in the Cherokee Path that connected Cherokee towns and villages throughout the area. Early 18th century traders delivered as many as 200,000 deerskins annually to Charleston, South Carolinamarker and local Indians became well supplied with European firearms, ammunition, tools and clothing as a result. However, mounting discord between Europeans and Cherokees led to war in 1759. In 1785, General Andrew Pickens hosted a large gathering of Indian chiefs leading to a treaty that gave all of the Jocassee gorges area, with the exception of northern Oconee Countymarker, to the United Statesmarker; the Oconee mountains were not ceded until 1815. European settlers, mostly of Scottishmarker and Irishmarker descent, came from Virginiamarker and Pennsylvaniamarker as well as from Charleston. Land grants in the Jocassee area go back to 1791.


Lake Jocassee holds state records for 5 species of fish, including three in the sunfish family (Centrarchidae). In 2001 a Redeye bass and a Smallmouth bass were caught. A Spotted bass was caught in 1996. The last two came from the salmon family (Salmonidae). A Brown trout was caught in 1987 and a Rainbow trout was caught in 1993.


The Jocassee Hydro Station, owned by Duke Power, in between Lake Jocassee and Lake Keoweemarker, is a 610 megawatt pumped storage facility. Also, just off the Whitewater River, Bad Creek Generation Station is a 1,065 megawatt pumped storage facility that started generating electricity in 1991 and is also owned by Duke Power. Both facilities provide jobs for the surrounding area.

Nearby Cities and Towns


  1. "Divers find hotel 300 ft. down", February 25, 2009; accessed February 25, 2009.
  2. Freshwater Fish Records for South Carolina

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