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Hyco Lake is a man-made reservoir located in northern North Carolina near the Virginia state line in the Roanoke River Basin. In the early 1960s, the lake was constructed by damming three local creeks: Cobb, North Hyco and South Hyco. The lake is located about 10 miles from the town of Roxboro, North Carolina. The reservoir was deemed complete in 1965 when the desired water level was attained by Hurricane Hilda blowing through the area.
The two dams that control the water level are named the North Hyco Dam and the South Hyco Dam. The South Dam is a simple concrete spillway. When the water level surpasses the normal lake level of 410.5 feet above sea level, the water spills over the dam. The North Dam is more complex, and is maintained by the local power company, Progress Energy. The main purpose of the reservoir is to supply water for Progress Energy's cooling process. Initially, there was a canal system used to cool the water, but they now have cooling towers, and the canals are no longer used. Water levels decline during the summer due to reduced stream flow into the lake and increased evaporation from the plant cooling towers.
The power plant is fueled by coal mined from West Virginia, and there are coal ash ponds and ash piles around the plant. Progress Energy is conscious of the impact coal ash runoff has on the lake and surrounding environment. Due to strict North Carolina Department of Natural Resources rules, Progress Energy has improved its corrective measures to prevent runoff, thereby decreasing selenium levels in the lake.
Before the reservoir was created, the river area was called Hicotomony by the native Indians, which translates to Turkey Buzzard River. According to local websites, the Turkey Buzzards are still plentiful, and there is no doubt that they enjoy perching in the trees around the reservoir. Hicotomony was shortened to the modern Hyco, and is the name for the dam, the reservoir, and the river that flows out of the lake.
Though the primary purpose of the reservoir is for use by Progress Energy, it is a popular recreational destination. A 65 acre recreational park offers a public swimming beach, campsites, picnic area, playground, tennis courts, bath house, several public boat launches, docks, and a small store. There is a minimal fee to enter the park, and if you wish to rent the new community building for a function, there is a fee involved. The park holds numerous community events throughout the year, including fishing tournaments, concerts, and markets. The nearby marina offers wine tasting twice a month.
The lake area is home to many types of wildlife. Boaters and hikers have reported seeing beaver, deer, and of course geese and ducks. Bass, crappie, bluegill, catfish, sauger and walleye are plentiful in the lake, and though there was a restriction on eating fish caught in the lake, it was lifted in 2004. At that time, selenium levels were deemed acceptable for human consumption.
The large area that Hyco Lake covers makes it ideal for water skiing, kneeboarding, and all types of watersports. Due to insufficient wind speed, sailboats are rare. The lake covers ten miles of the landscape, and though there isn't really a main bay, there is one area that is wider than the rest. That bay stretches off into smaller fingers of the lake in nearly all directions.
Well over 1200 homes dot the shorelines, and make a leisurely float trip more interesting. There are still undeveloped areas around the Hyco Lake, and room for many more to move in. Currently over 2800 people live in a five mile area around the lake.
Beautiful Hyco Reservoir near the Virginia-North Carolina state line is more than just a lake. It's a destination with some of the best that North Carolina has to offer: tons of activities for all ages, a location that can't be beat, and the charm of the local folks.
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