|Cascade Boat House, 1941|
Around 1900 Martin Hamilton built a wooden dam with a grist mill and
saw mill on the Little River downstream from Hooker Falls. He sold the
property to the Pickelsimers, who planned to generate electricity there.
Hamilton built the original power house. A generator was delivered to Penrose
by train but had to come the remainder of the way by wagon. When the
wagon got bogged down by the heavy weight, they rolled it on logs to the
plant, which was a slow process.
The Cascade Power Company began
operation in 1909. The main purpose was to supply electricity for the
Pickelsimers’ Pisgah Mills textile plant in Brevard. Using the excess
power produced, the Pickelsimers started Bre-vard Light & Power.
They offered free power to the city, churches and the poor.
The old log dam was rebuilt in the 1920s using stone and concrete. Over the years it has been raised several times.
In 1929 Duke Power purchased Brevard
Power and Light. They distributed the electricity generated by the
Cascade Power Company through Southern Public Utilities Company.
Joe Baynard worked at the plant from 1920 to 1930. Walter Holtzclaw,
who was the pastor at Little River Baptist Church, worked at the plant
for several years in the early 1930s. He was also a rock mason and built
many of the retaining walls around the property. Bob Merrill, Hall Gray
and Carter Blythe all worked at the plant in the 1930s and 40s.
In 1946 George Hudgins took over operation of the plant. He ran it for
55 years until it closed in 2001. Hudgins and his wife, Gola, lived
above the powerhouse. They said they quickly got used to the steady
noise of the plant but the one downside was that George could not leave
the plant unattended for more than a couple of hours at a time.
|Inside the power house, 1941|
Cascade Lake, which was created by the damming of the Little River,
quickly became a favorite for fishermen and boaters. From the late 1930s
until 1960 the property included rental cabins, an inn and a boat
house. There was a restaurant, bar, and dance hall in the inn. The
operation closed when the inn burned in 1960.
Today the Cascade Lake Recreation Area offers 160 campsites and lake access.
Photographs and information for this column are provided by the Rowell Bosse North Carolina Room, Transylvania County Library. Visit the NC Room during regular library hours (Monday-Friday)
to learn more about our history and see additional photographs. For
more information, comments or suggestions, contact Marcy at
[email protected] or (828) 884-3151 ext. 242.