This is Charlie Wimmer in the bow near the north end of the tunnel. We had to lay on our backs and pull our way through the tunnel. Too bad we could not go all the way through!
Here we are at the south end (upper end). Notice the "light at the end of the tunnel". That is as far as the tunnel goes. This was built in 1914 to allow a Southern Railway train to operate along the river bank of the Little Tennessee River to the Santeelah and Cheoah dam construction sites. If I am not mistaken this would be the same train that ran along side the river bank and across Babcock Trestle and into Maryville. wonder if it was the same one which carried loads of slate from the Panther Creek slate quarry "1886 Abrams Creek Roofing Slate Company)?
The lake itself is about 541 acres, 6.5 miles long and the dam is 232' high making this lake about 273' higher than Tellico lake! That's a lot of water being held back! The crews built the dam but left a passageway at the base of the dam for the train to operate throughout construction. The tunnel through the dam was between floodgate 7 and 8. I believe the dam was finished in 1930 so that means the river, railroad and this tunnel has all been covered for 78 years. Now here is the cool part...rumor has it that there are some flat cars still on the tracks inside the tunnel. One day I will SCUBA this tunnel and post more picts of what lies beneath!
In autumn 1979 My grandfather took me trout fishing one day along the banks of the Little Tennessee River. When we finished and got into his car he closed the door and said "Take a look...next week this will be a lake." In November, TVA closed the flood gates and Tellico Lake was born. Good-by to the Little Tennessee River as we knew it.
This website is about getting you excited to paddle the "finger lakes" of the Smokies. Since there is no going back, we should enjoy these five lakes. Here are photos and stories from Fontana, Cheoah, Calderwood, Chilhowee and Tellico Lakes.
Hey this is Jeff Wadley. I love the Smokies! I also enjoy guiding others into the mountains hoping they can expereince God's wonders and want to know more about Him.
I grew up in Gatlinburg and have hiked all the trails in the Smokies, have almost finished paddling the Little Tennessee River from Fontana to Ft. Loudon and am working on hiking all the trails in Joyce Kilmer, Slickrock, Citico, Gee Creek and Bald River Wilderness Areas.
I am the author of "Mayday! Mayday! Aircraft Crashes in Great Smoky Mountains National Park". It is my desire for you to enjoy the Smokies and at least consider the wonders of God's creation.