History of Lake Wylie

Catawba  "People of the River"

Lake Wylie is located in an area originally populated by the Catawba Indians. The tribe name “Catawba” means “people of the river”.  Lake Wylie follows the Catawba River as it flows southward through  Gaston and Mecklenburg Counties in North Carolina to York County, South Carolina.  With 13,400 acres, and 325 miles of shoreline, Lake Wylie and the Catawba River offer great areas for boating, fishing and swimming. The lake and river also supply water to York County, and cities of Belmont and Rock Hill. 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.

 In 1904 Dr. W Gill Wylie , his brother and his chief engineer, William States Lee, built the original Catawba Hydroelectric station on the Catawba River in York County, SC  3 miles west of Fort Mill. The  place was called India Hook shoals.  Dr. Wylie partnered with tobacco tycoon James Duke in 1905 and formed the Southern Power Company. The original power station was replaced in 1925 and renamed as Wylie hydro.  The existing dam was demolished, rebuilt and expanded which increased the lake from 668 original acres to the present 13,400 acres.  In 1927 Southern Power merged with Duke Power Company and Southern Power was dissolved.

In 1923, a hard surface road was built to connect Charlotte, NC to what was then known as Lake Catawba.   “Buster” Boyd was an influential politician in Mecklenburg County who had lobbied  the Mecklenburg County Commissioners for construction of the road.  After the road was built, Boyd fought for the bridge to be built spanning Lake Catawba from Mecklenburg County, NC to York County. SC. During construction, the bridge was called the “York-Mecklenburg Bridge”.  Upon completion, the bridge was renamed in honor of Boyd, who had donated the land on the North Carolina side. A great celebration was held with governors from both states and 12,000 people attending. There were dedication ceremonies and biplanes performing aerial acrobatics over and under the new bridge. The current Buster Boyd bridge was completed in 2003.

In the 1960s, Duke Power began leasing waterfront lots around the lake.  Construction of small river cabins began.  These were mainly used by local residents as summer and weekend getaways.  In the early 1970s, there was the beginning of major residential development with the creation of the neighborhoods of Tega Cay and River Hills, both communities providing waterfront homes and lake access to all residents.  With close proximity to the Charlotte, NC metropolitan areas, both residential and commercial development have continued to increase in the Lake Wylie area.   

 

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