ALMOST 55 YEARS AGO, surveyors arrived in rural Bedford, Franklin and Pittsylvania Counties to flag 800' above sea level, the point at which Appalachian Power Company would retain the right to flood. Bulldozers followed and carved a ribbon of land 500 miles long which was the stopping point for the impounded waters of the Roanoke River, also named the Staunton River below the point where the Blackwater River flowed into the larger Roanoke.
The Staunton River formed a giant horseshoe bend and snaked it's way through the gap of Smith Mountain. The only clearing done was to those trees which would reach near or above the surface of the water. Everything else was left standing.
My father left all our barns and sheds, he moved the sawmill up to the upper edge of the farm, as well as part of the farmhouse, he tore the rest of the house down after removing reuseable materials. I don't know what the few other families did, however I'm assuming their move to higher ground followed a similar pattern. I was in elementary school at the time and thought it pretty grand that we were moving into a new brick ranch and that the creeks were coming out of their banks.
The flooding of Craddock Creek which flowed right below our house took quite a while. My dad built a dock on barrels and I remember he would hook the tractor to it every week or so and pull it farther up the hill. Lots of people drove past our new house and down to where the road ran right into the water just to see the sight.
Some brought boats and ventured out into the water among the trees, I vividly remember men and women water-skiing around and through the trees as the lake was filling. My dad started digging holes for pilings for docks and opened a marina shortly after the lake filled. There were many years of boating and fishing and skiing in which we would have the lake all to ourselves. It was the most beautiful paradise right in our own backyard.
When the creeks started to come out of their banks, the world as we knew it, changed...
The result was Smith Mountain Lake and its unsurpassed beauty!
Let me help you find a "Lake Retreat" and while we're at it we can talk about the history of this "young" lake.
One trip to Smith Mountain Lake and you will not want to leave!!!
Jeanette Mitchell Childress, Broker and Owner of Lake Retreat Properties