The Narrows

Narrows Dam in Badin, NC

Written by Debrah Lovan

January 1, 2022

The decision of Southern Aluminium and Alcoa to produce aluminum here in Badin had been largely motivated by its location on the Yadkin River. For over a century the gorge known as “the Narrows” had been recognized for its potential to create hydro-power. However, the site’s remote location amongst forested hills and rocky terrain was not suited to traditional water-wheel power. But thanks to new technology, electric power could now be created at the Narrows and then moved long distances over wires. It became possible to build a dam and conduct the power to an aluminum smelter in the town of Badin.

At construction in 1917 the Narrows was the highest spillway dam in the world & the largest of any type dam in NC. Its powerhouse contained the largest hydroelectric units in the world.

Tallassee Lake(now Badin Lake) was created as its reservoir. Narrows was the first of four dams built by Alcoa.

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