A Brief 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. The original Spratt Homestead is located near downtown Fort Mill. The mid 17th century brought large scale settlement to the Catawba River region when Scots-Irish Presbyterians migrated south from Pennsylvania.
At the turn of the 19th century the introduction of textile plants caused the local economy to shift from agriculture to manufacturing. These textile plants required cheap, readily available electricity. Enter Dr. Walker Gill Wylie.
In 1904 Wylie, along with his brother and other engineers, conceived a plan to construct a dam on the Catawba River at India Hook shoals near Rock Hill, South Carolina. They believed by harnessing the power of naturally falling water, electricity could be generated more easily. At the time hydroelectricity production was an emerging field. Wylie and his business partners formed the Catawba Power Company and built the very first dam and hydro plant along the Catawba River, creating “Catawba Lake”.
Wylie later faced years of financial setbacks, including the devastating Great Flood of 1916 which severely damaged the hydro station at India Hook shoals. 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 get-a-ways or fishing cabins for residents of the surrounding townships. The 1970s brought major residential development with the creation of two large neighborhoods, River Hills and Tega Cay. Since then residential and commercial development has continued to expand around the lake.
Lake Wylie is a desirable residential and recreational destination for two of the Carolina’s largest commercial centers, Charlotte NC and Rock Hill SC. Other surrounding townships include Belmont NC, Clover SC, Tega Cay SC and Fort Mill SC. Our 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”.