Lake Jocassee is a , deep
reservoir located in northwest South Carolina created by the state in partnership with Duke Power in 1973. The clean and cold
Appalachian mountain rivers that feed the lake keep its waters
dam that formed the lake is
high and long. The lake is home to Devils Fork
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
River, is the furthest west of the rivers, flows
southeast until it meets the northwest corner of Lake
The Thompson River, flows due south until it also
reaches the lake in the northwest corner. The Horsepasture
River feeds the lake from the northeast corner, along
with the Toxaway River, which is
directly east of the Horsepasture River.
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 Seneca, with the old mill town of Newry 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
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 French botanist
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
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
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
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
. Nearby Keowee Town 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 Carolina and local Indians became well supplied with
European firearms, ammunition, tools and clothing as a
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
County, to the United States; the Oconee mountains were not ceded until
1815. European settlers, mostly of Scottish and Irish descent,
came from Virginia and Pennsylvania 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
). 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
). A Brown
was caught in 1987 and a Rainbow
was caught in 1993.
Jocassee Hydro Station, owned by Duke
Power, in between Lake Jocassee and Lake Keowee, 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
. Both facilities provide jobs for the surrounding area.
Nearby Cities and Towns
- CNN.com: "Divers find hotel 300 ft. down",
February 25, 2009; accessed February 25, 2009.
- Freshwater Fish Records for South Carolina