The Forgotten Underwater Ghost Towns that Are Submerged in the Deepest Lake in North Carolina

Diana Rus

The deepest lake in North Carolina hides lots of mysteries and history, including towns that were submerged and their ruins can still be seen when the level is very low.

Fontana Lake is a reservoir on the Little Tennessee River that is surrounded by Graham and Swain counties in North Carolina. It is the deepest lake in North Carolina, with a depth that ranges from 135 feet on average to 440 feet at its deepest point.

Particularly at the eastern end, the lake contains several islands created from previous mountain peaks and numerous inlets into coves. As in the majority of dam-impounded lakes, when the water level is low, the steep sides are visible.

Fontana Dam is a hydroelectric dam. The Tennessee Valley Authority operates the dam, which was erected in the early 1940s to meet the Tennessee Valley's growing electrical demands to serve the aluminum industry during World War II; it also offered electricity to a formerly rural area.

Fontana Dam, at 480 feet high, is the tallest dam in the Eastern United States. At the time of its completion, it was the fourth-tallest dam in the world. In 2017, the dam and its accompanying infrastructure were added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Once Fontana Dam was completed in 1944, creating the Fontana Lake reservoir upriver, many towns, including Proctor and Judson, were submerged. Other villages that were submerged are Fontana, Bushnell, and Forney.

To house the project's employees, the temporary community of Welch Cove, later renamed Fontana Village, was built immediately south of the dam.
Fontana LakePhoto byFontana Lake/Wikipedia


Judson was a small town with about 600 residents. The center of Judson was cut through by the Tennessee River.

Four times every day, twice to Murphy and twice to Bryson City, the train passed through Judson. The town had an elementary school, a barbershop, local businesses, a sawmill, and a post office. In Judson, there were two churches: a Baptist and a Methodist. Moreover,  there were two doctors at different times. Right after the town entrance, there were three stores on the left and one across the street. 

Nevertheless, as soon as Fontana Dam was built, all occupants were relocated, and Judson was flooded. The area was occupied by Fontana Lake. Homes, stores, cemeteries, and beloved locations quickly disappeared.


Proctor is a former town in Swain County, North Carolina, United States. The town bears Moses Proctor's name since he was the first European-American to settle in this region.

Fontana Lake, which was formed in 1944 during World War II by the construction of the Fontana Dam, inundated the town. Until the water level is very low, the town stays submerged.

Most of the town and cemetery is above water, but the Proctor mining headquarters were submerged. The lumber mill and one remaining house are both still standing.

Former residents were promised a road along the northern shore of the lake, but only seven miles were actually constructed because of a variety of factors, including the fact that the area where the town once stood was included in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the National Park Service opposed the road and insufficient funding following World War II.

The former town cemetery, which can only be reached by trails, was visited with the use of ferry boats that the NPS provided.
Fontana Dam from abovePhoto byFontana Dam/Wikipedia


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My name is Diana Rus, and I'm a Romanian content writer with a passion for exploring the world and sharing my experiences with others. I studied Marketing at University and have a master's degree in Marketing Research. My true passion lies in writing, and in my articles, I share my thoughts and ideas on a variety of topics, including interesting places from the US and around the world, history, and important events.


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