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Named for a nearby 18th century British fort, Fort Loudoun Lake draws millions of visitors every year for fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing. Located at the headwaters of the Tennessee River, Fort Loudoun Lake extends 55 miles from Lenoir City to Knoxville. It is the first in a chain of nine reservoirs that form a continuous navigable channel to Paducah, Kentucky, approximately 652 miles away. All nine reservoirs are managed by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which was a New Deal idea. Speaking to Congress, President Roosevelt painted a picture of a "corporation clothed with the power of government but possessed of the flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise." The TVA dams were created for flood control and to generate hydroelectric power, and have helped protect and build the region ever since.
Construction of the Fort Loudoun Dam began in 1940 and was finished is 1943. Fort Loudoun Lock raises and lowers boats and barges 70 feet between Fort Loudoun Lake and Watts Bar Reservoir. Barges carry over half a million tons of cargo through the lock every year. Fort Loudoun Lake is connected by a canal to Tellico Reservoir on the nearby Little Tennessee River. Water is diverted through the canal for power generation, and the canal allows commercial barges access to the Tellico Reservoir without having to pass through a lock.
Because Fort Loudoun Lake is a main waterway, the water level only draws down about six feet fluctuating between elevations of 807 feet to 813 feet. The length of the lake makes it ideal for recreational boating, jet skiing, and water skiing, and there are public boat ramps and marinas. There are abundant populations of largemouth, smallmouth and black bass, and the lake is particularly well known for its black and white crappie. There is camping available near Loudoun Lake and wildlife to see. Birdwatchers will love the black-crowned night herons and osprey along with other waterfowl. Fort Loudoun State Park is 1,200 acres set aside to commemorate one of the earliest British fortifications on the western frontier. Today visitors can tour the partially reconstructed fort named for John Campbell, the 4th Earl of Loudoun and commander of the British Forces in North America.
Its rich diverse history and beautiful water makes Fort Loudoun Lake a great place to explore and enjoy.
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