Thursday, October 9, 2014

'A History of Lake Norman: Fish Camps to Ferraris' by Chuck McShane


One way to tell a native Charlottean of a certain age is by what that person calls the large body of water to the north of us. If they call it Lake Norman, they are certainly not natives. If they refer to it as the River, they probably are.

As a just-released book, "A History of Lake Norman: Fish Camps to Ferraris" (History Press, $19.99), opens: "Before the lake there was the river." This river was home to the Kawahcatawba, which author Chuck McShane of Davidson calls "less a tribe and more of a loose federation of smaller, related settlements living in several villages that formed a linear band on either side of the river."

McShane covers it all, from William Davidson's Revolutionary War death in 1781 at Cowan's Ford; Buck Duke's and William States Lee's dream of an electrified South; the opening of the Catawba River Bridge in 1908;  the flood of 1916; the massive dynamiting of land in September, 1959, for the Cowan's Ford Dam; the construction of the dam in the early 1960s; the filling of the lake; and the rest is history.

In the chapter, "The Lore of the Lake: Tall Tales and Future Challenges," I had hoped to read about the winter the river froze and people could walk from one shore to another. I read about this in the microfilm of  an old newspaper -- maybe 1909 or 1919 -- and have always longed for further details. Nothing in this chapter mentions that incredible event.

Nevertheless, the book is engaging and well told.
Meet the Author

October 12th, 2014 at 2pm
Main Street Books
126 S Main St
Davidson, NC 28036

October 18th at 1pm
Charlotte Museum of History
3500 Shamrock Dr
Charlotte, NC 28215

November 8th from 9am-11am
Davis General Store
8940 Old Statesville Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28269


Chuck McShane said...

Thank you for the review! I had not come across the story of the frozen river in my research. I've asked around to a few local historians and may have some leads. The winter of 1917-1918 was brutally cold. In Statesville, the temperature dropped to 10 below. Even the soldiers stationed at Camp Greene in Charlotte, many from New England, complained.

January 1886 was also frigid. According to Statesville historian O.C. Stonestreet, witnesses reported wagons crossing the frozen Catawba in Iredell County.

Chuck McShane

Unknown said...

Chuck -- That's fascinating. Thank you for telling me. I didn't remember about January of 1886, but it makes me want to hit the microfilm again. I love weather stories. Congrats on the great book.

Unknown said...

I am finding this book fascinating!
I do have a question, Chuck: You mention that there was once a 100 room hotel in the area of the famous Rock Springs in Denver - one that didn't survive the Civil War. Were you ever able to pinpoint a location for that hotel? I have lived in Denver for almost 10 years and very familiar with the Rock Springs camp ground. And trying to picture where this hotel could have been situated...