Fontana Dam Visitors Center


Tennessee Valley Authority engineers began building the Fontana Dam on Jan. 1, 1942, and completed it with record speed, generating electricity as early as Jan. 20, 1945. Construction of this remote dam was spurred by the need for huge amounts of electricity to power the aluminum plants in Alcoa, TN, which produced metal for WW II aircraft, and to provide energy for the top-secret weapons laboratory at Oak Ridge. Standing 480 feet high, Fontana is the tallest concrete dam east of the Rocky Mountains. It also is notable for its unconventional spillway: Water draining from the reservoir passes around the dam, rather than through it, via pipes.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Civil, Electrical
Topic(s):Electricity
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:At the time it was built, the Fontana Dam was too remote for commuting, so the Tennessee Valley Authority created a town for the 5,000+ construction workers. The residences included "A-6" prefabricated houses, which TVA chief architect Roland Wank and world-renowned architect Albert Kahn invented. Afterwards, the town of Fontana became a resort.