City Directories and History: The history of Great Falls and the development of the Southern Power Company by Dr. Gill Wylie and later James Duke, is a remarkable and far sighted investment in hydroelectric power and harnessing the mighty Catawba River where it cascaded over the Great Falls.
One of the major dams on the river to be constructed was that of Nitrolee, named for the nearby Nitrolee Fertilizer Plant, which had recently been abandoned. Named for William States Lee, the Manager and Chief Engineer of the project and for the advanced technology needed to extract nitrogen from the air for use as fertilizer.
The Rock Hill Record reported on Dec. 3, 1908 – “The Southern Power Company has secured rights and options along Fishing Creek and the Catawba River and will construct a third plant in the near future. (This is now known as the Nitrolee Dam). The Rocky Creek plant should be operational around March 1st. Flooding last summer washed away part of the work on that dam and opening has been delayed. Work will then move to 99 Islands, where 10% of development work has been completed. When finished there, work will be commenced at the Fishing Creek location on the Catawba River.
Images of the Nitrolee Dam are from the private collection of a local historian and R&R is privileged to have the opportunity to exhibit them here.
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