The creation of Watauga Lake.
Watauga Lake, is located East of Elizabethton, TN. deep in the Appalachian Mountains and surrounded by the Cherokee National Forest. It was first developed in 1942 and finally damned in 1948 by the Tennessee River Authority, it currently sits on top of the old town of Butler, TN. which, due to frequent previous flooding was relocated to higher ground and then completely flooded to create the lake.
What is the meaning of Watauga?
The meaning of the word Watauga and where it came from continues to be debated and depending on who you speak to, it has many different possible meanings that derive from an old Indian language, possibly Cherokee. Most notably is “beautiful waters” but there are a number of of other possibilities such as; “beautiful waters”, “running waters”, “falling waters”, “whispering waters”, “clear waters”, “flowing waters”, “village of many springs”, “river of plenty”, “broken waters”, “river of islands”, “the land beyond”. There’s also a possibility that the word Wata’gi (commonly written Watauga, also Wataga, Wattoogee, Whatoga, etc.) comes from a name occurring in two or more towns in old Cherokee country; one was an important settlement on Watauga Creek of Little Tennessee River, a few miles below Franklin, in Macon County, N.C.; another was traditionally located at Watauga Old Fields (an ancient Native American gathering place that pre-dated the Cherokee), which is the present city of Elizabethton on Watauga River in Carter County. Unfortunately the word Watauga is considered a lost Indian word so we will never know what the actual meaning is, although any of the proposed meanings would certainly fit the description of this beautiful lake.
Recreational Activities on the lake.
Watauga Lake is an excellent lake for such recreational activities as swimming, boating, fishing, camping and water skiing. The lake itself sees plenty of visitors each year but it is still considered to be a hidden gem of sorts due to it’s geographical location and limited access to the Lake. The lake has 104.9 miles of shoreline with 47 of those miles reserved for private land and the other 58 is mostly Cherokee National Forest land so it can never be developed, keeping it’s waters and surrounding areas a beautiful experience, and environment for people to enjoy.