by: Natalie Pasquarella Updated:
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Construction crews put the finishing touches on a dam that Charlotte residents now know as Lake Norman 50 years ago this week.
It is North Carolina's largest man-made body of fresh water.
During the past half century, Lake Norman has undergone major transformations.
On Monday, Eyewitness News toured the dam to see how it all began.
A beautiful day on Lake Norman was captured from the top of the dam at Cowans Ford Hydro Station, a rare opportunity for Eyewitness News crews to get a look from 130 feet up on the same day the dam began operating 50 years ago.
"I don't think even the most visionary people among us could've imagined the tremendous growth that has been experienced in the area," said Steve Jester.
The dam is made up of four units that generate electricity; they first began operating on the man-made lake back in 1963.
Inside of the hydro station, historic pictures line the walls.
Eyewitness News crews got an up-close look at the turbines attached to the generators that make the power.
"This station here is capable of generating up to 320 megawatts of power," said Mike Williams, the hydro station supervisor.
The dam is a source of power and water to the surrounding area and an economic boost for years to come.
"It's been an incredible stimulus for the local towns and cities. It's brought a phenomenal amount of people to the water who want to recreate here and of course our power plant," said Jester.