The History of Lake Wylie
For hundreds of years before the creation of Lake Wylie a local Indian tribe occupied the surrounding area. The tribe called themselves the Catawba or “People of the River.” The present day Catawba River, which feeds Lake Wylie, takes its name from this Indian word. The most notable early settler in the region was Thomas Spratt. The Spratt family remains in the area to this day, and the original Spratt Homestead can be found near downtown Fort Mill. The mid 17th century brought large scale settlement to the Catawba River region when Scottish-Irish Presbyterians migrated south from Pennsylvania.
At the turn of the 19th century the construction of textile plants caused the local economy to shift from agricultural to industrial. These textile plants all required electricity. It was reasoned that if engineers could harness the power of falling water then electricity could be generated more easily. Enter Dr. Walker Gill Wylie.
Dr. Wylie was a local physician with a background in engineering. In 1905, along with several businessmen, Wylie conceived a plan to construct a dam on the Catawba River in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Wylie and his business partners formed the Catawba Power Company and built a hydro station, creating “Catawba Lake”.
Wylie later faced years of financial setbacks, including the devastating Great Flood of 1916 which destroyed Wylie’s hydro station and many other bridges and dams along the Catawba River. Wylie eventually gained the support of tobacco tycoon James Buchanan Duke, and with Duke’s help the dam was raised in 1925, expanding the lake to its present size. In the 1960s Duke Power Company renamed the body of water Lake Wylie in honor of its original founder.
In the 1960s Duke Power began leasing waterfront lots around Lake Wylie. Construction of small “river cabins” soon began. These cabins served mostly as weekend homes or fishing cabins for residents of the surrounding townships. The 1970s brought major development with the creation of two large neighborhoods: River Hills and Tega Cay. The Lake Wylie area has grown and transformed dramatically ever since.
Lake Wylie is a desirable community for two of the Carolina’s largest commercial centers – Charlotte NC and Rock Hill SC. Other surrounding and thriving townships include Belmont NC, Clover SC, Tega Cay SC and Fort Mill SC. This beautiful lake, the local boundary between North and South Carolina, will continue to attract people and businesses for many, many years. A variety of residential settings, excellent quality of life, fantastic neighborhood and housing options, and numerous recreational activities all make the Lake Wylie region one of the Carolina’s most popular places to call “home”.