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Cheoah Hydroelectric Development
Cheoah Hydroelectric Dam Graham Co NC.jpg
Cheoah Hydroelectric Dam, 2010
Cheoah Dam is located in North Carolina
Cheoah Dam
Location in North Carolina
Cheoah Dam is located in the United States
Cheoah Dam
Location in the United States
Location 1512 Tapoca Rd., NC 129, near Robbinsville, North Carolina
Area 25 acres (10 ha)
Built 1919 (1919)
Built by Power & Engineering Group of Alcoa
Architectural style Classical Revival
MPS Tapoco Hydroelectric Project MPS
NRHP reference No. 04000464
Added to NRHP May 21, 2004

The Cheoah Dam is a hydroelectric complex located in Graham and Swain counties, North Carolina, on the Little Tennessee River between river miles 51 and 52. The Cheoah Development consists of a dam and powerhouse, the first of several constructed by the Tallassee Power Company, now Tapoco. The Cheoah project began in 1916 as a construction camp at the Narrows where the Little Tennessee River flowed through a narrow gorge, and was completed in 1919. Cheoah Dam helps form the long, narrow Cheoah Reservoir, which covers the approximately 644 acres (261 ha) of the normal full pool area and a drainage area of 1,608 square miles (4,160 km2). The elevation of Cheoah Reservoir is 1,276.8 feet (389.2 m) (USGS). A scenic highway runs the length of the reservoir.

The water inflow for Cheoah, like Calderwood and Chilhowee, is primarily dependent on releases from TVA's Fontana Dam. Fontana Dam is the primary flow control facility for the lower Little Tennessee River. Tapoco built and operated the Cheoah Development until 2012 when it was sold to Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners, forming Brookfield Smoky Mountain Hydropower.

When completed, the 225-foot (69 m) dam was the world's highest overflow dam. The turbines were the largest in the world, and the 150,000-volt transmission line had the highest voltage and the longest span for a transmission line — 5,010 feet (1,530 m) across the river below Cheoah Dam. The dam and associated structures were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.

The dam was used as a filming location for the 1993 movie The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford.


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