Lake James is named for James B. Duke, one of the founders of Duke Energy.
Built over a seven-year period beginning in 1916, Lake James required the construction of three dams: Linville, Paddy Creek and Catawba. Linville Dam is 160 feet high and 1,325 feet long. Paddy Creek Dam is 165 feet high and 1,610 feet long. Catawba Dam is 150 feet high and 3,155 feet long. Care should be exercised in the vicinity of these dams.
The lake straddles the McDowell-Burke county line. Lake James has a surface area of approximately 6,812 acres, with 150 miles of shoreline. Full pond elevation is 1,200 feet.
Duke Energy provides four public boat access areas on the lake and one fishing and canoe access point below the hydroelectric station. Lake James State Park also provides public recreation opportunities. Two boat access points are leased to the State Park and the other two, as well as the tailrace fishing and canoe access point, are provided in cooperation with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission.
Public Access Areas
- Black Bear Access Area
- Linville Access Area
- Bridgewater Fishing Area and proposed Canoe Portage
- Canal Bridge Access Area 1-828-652-5047 (Leased to N.C. State Parks)
- Hidden Cove Access Area 1-828-652-5047 (Leased to N.C. State Parks)
- Lake James State Park 1-828-652-5047
- Mountain Harbour Marina 1-828-584-0666