17 March 2013

Ocoee Lake

In 1911, the Tennessee Power Company dammed the Ocoee River east of Cleveland, TN, and created the state's first artificial lake.  TVA took over the company in 1939, and they've controlled the water level ever since. Nowadays, the river and lake are used mostly for recreation - the 1996 Olympic whitewater events were held there. (The whitewater center claims that it was the first Olympic whitewater event to be held on a natural river, but I'm not sure how natural it is if there's a dam controlling the flow.)  The day I happened to drive through the gorge, the water was extremely low - the dirt in the photo is the lakebed.

No water in Ocoee Lake, Sunday, March 9, 2013.

The average life expectancy of a dam is 50 years. The one that controls this lake is 101.

10 March 2013

Ghost Gas Stations

There are a lot of abandoned businesses along Highway 64, and most of them are gas stations.  I didn't count, but there might be a dozen.  146 miles, an empty filling station about every 12. The road runs between Cleveland, Tennessee and Clyde, North Carolina, a four lane highway that shrinks to two lanes when it runs along the rivers - first the Ocoee, then the Nantahala. I drive this road every time I go to Chattanooga. At least once a month, there and back. Today, I had my camera with me. It was colorful; it was morning; I pulled over. Here's some of what I saw.

No phone inside, just the booth.

Peering through the AC duct, things are eerily untouched. Signs still hanging.

And in a window, dishes on the tables. The price of pizza still on the menu.

Old trash bag, rotting.
Even though it's obviously in a state of neglect, the colors are still vibrant. 

Trees growing out of the old parking lot and loading dock.

I wonder how long this one has been out of business. Behind it was a trailer park. As I was making these images, two young kids drove by on a four-wheeler. 
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