Yadkin Project (FERC No. 2197)

National Register of Historic Places Eligibility Study

Final Study Plan

November 2003



Alcoa Power Generating Inc. (APGI) is the licensee for the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project.  The Yadkin Project is currently licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as Project No. 2197.  This license expires in 2008 and APGI must file a new license application with FERC on or before April 30, 2006 to continue operation of the Project. 


The Yadkin Project consists of four reservoirs, dams, and powerhouses (High Rock, Tuckertown, Narrows , and Falls) located on a 38-mile stretch of the Yadkin River in central North Carolina .  The Project generates electricity to support the power needs of Alcoa’s Badin Works, to support its other aluminum operations, or is sold on the open market.


As part of the relicensing process, APGI prepared and distributed, in September 2002, an Initial Consultation Document (ICD), which provides a general overview of the Project.  Agencies, municipalities, non-governmental organizations and members of the public were given an opportunity to review the ICD and identify information and studies that are needed to address relicensing issues. To further assist in the identification of issues and data/study needs, APGI formed several Issue Advisory Groups (IAGs) to advise APGI on resource issues throughout the relicensing process. IAGs also have the opportunity to review and comment on Draft Study Plans. One of the IAGs, the Cultural Resources Issue Advisory Group, was formed to address historic, architectural, and archaeological properties within the project’s boundary.


Issue/ Overview


Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) requires that FERC take into account the effects of its relicensing decision on historic properties, and to allow the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) a reasonable opportunity to comment on FERC’s relicensing decision.  In North Carolina , the Division of Historic Resources serves as the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).  This office is responsible for the administration of the Section 106 program and has specific requirements for historic property analysis and assessment.  In recent years, the SHPO has reviewed two FERC relicensing efforts regarding historic properties: APGI’s Tapoco Hydroelectric Project and Duke Power’s Nantahala Project.  The SHPO has indicated that the level of effort and research produced for these two studies meet the state’s criteria. This level of effort will include the National Register eligibility assessments of the Yadkin Project’s four hydroelectric developments: Narrows, Falls, High Rock and Tuckertown.


In August of 2003, Thomason and Associates prepared a Draft Study Plan for this project based upon the level of work previously performed for the Tapoco and Duke Power projects. On August 27, 2003 APGI hosted a meeting of the Cultural Resources Issue Advisory Group in Badin , North Carolina , to discuss the scope of work for the project’s cultural resource assessment. At this meeting there was general agreement on approval of the initial scope of work. Further comments were received from the North Carolina SHPO in a letter dated September 26, 2003 . Based upon these comments the initial scope of work was revised as follows:


Initial Scope of Work


Yadkin proposes to conduct architectural and historical surveys of the four hydroelectric plants within the Yadkin Hydroelectric Project.  These properties consist of the Narrows , Falls, High Rock and Tuckertown Developments.  Since the Narrows Development was listed on the NRHP twenty years ago, a reassessment of its eligibility will be conducted. Work to be performed includes the following:


  1. A physical inventory of each development will be conducted.  This will include an architectural description of each property associated with the development, dates of construction, changes and alterations to the property over time, modern intrusions, and level of historic and architectural integrity. 


  1. Black and white photographs will be taken of each exterior façade, significant details and representative interiors. Color slides will also be taken to support NRHP nominations for eligible properties.


  1. Historical research on the four developments will be completed.  This will include primary research at the state archives in North Carolina , Yadkin’s records and any other relevant repository of historical data.  This information will be used to prepare an historical narrative of the development of the Yadkin River and its significance and historic contexts on a local, state, and nationwide level.


  1. Recommendations for NRHP eligibility will be made in accordance with National Register criteria.  The reassessment of the Narrows Development will include a descriptive and photographic update of all of the Narrows Development properties and a reevaluation of its NRHP-listed boundaries.  The Falls and High Rock Development may be potentially eligible for the NRHP based upon their dates of construction, historical significance, and retention of their architectural and engineering character.  In the case of the Tuckertown Development, the guidelines for properties that may have achieved significance within the past 50 years will also be applied.


5.   The four hydroelectric projects will be evaluated as a complex of facilities rather than as individual units such as the dams, powerhouses, and other ancillary buildings or structures. The approach will focus on the eligibility of each project as an historic district made up of contributing and non-contributing elements. Surface remains of earlier buildings and structures will also be assessed for eligibility within the district boundaries.


6.   In updating the nomination for the National Register-listed Narrows Hydroelectric Development, an historic context for the ownership and construction by the Whitney Companies and the L’Aluminum Francais will be developed to incorporate identified and potential archaeological properties at the site. Such properties may include the foundations of worker dwellings, roadbeds, stone walls, and other features.  Based on this research and survey, the boundary for this nomination will be reassessed. As part of this research, original plans, notebooks, blueprints, photographs, and other documents associated with the Whitney Companies and L’Aluminum Francais will be inventoried along with recommendations for conservation.  


Additional Scope of Work – Cultural Landscape Study


At the meeting of August 27, 2003 and in later communications, representatives of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (SHPO), the Trading Ford Historic District Preservation Association, and other participants expressed an interest in the preparation of a cultural landscape study of the project area as part of the overall cultural resources analysis. A “cultural landscape” is defined as a geographical area that historically has been used by people, or shaped or modified by human activity, occupancy, or intervention, and that possesses a significant concentration, linkage, or continuity of areas of land use, vegetation, buildings and structures, roads and waterways, and natural features.[1] Cultural landscapes may be significant within such themes as agriculture, settlement, architecture, military, mining, industry, and transportation. To meet National Register criteria, cultural landscapes must not only be significant within a particular context or theme, but the landscape must also retain integrity from its period of significance. Landscape features which contribute to a property’s significance can include buildings and structures, roadbeds, fords or ferry crossings, field patterns, walls and fences, mines, and other manmade features. Once identified, cultural landscapes meeting National Register criteria are subject to review if affected through federally funded projects.


The Yadkin FERC project encompasses portions of Stanly, Montgomery , Davie , Davidson, and Rowan Counties in North Carolina . The cultural landscape of much of this area was transformed in the 20th century partially as a result of the construction of a series of dams and lakes to provide hydroelectric power for Alcoa’s Badin plant. The first of these, the Narrows Dam, was completed in 1917 and created the 5,355-acre Badin Lake . Downstream, the Falls Dam was built in 1919 and impounded the Falls Reservoir which has a pool area of 204 acres. The High Rock Dam was completed in 1927 and impounds the 15,180-acre High Rock Reservoir. The final dam built for Yadkin is the Tuckertown Dam and the Tuckertown Reservoir contains 2,560 acres.


The construction of these dams along with other 20th century projects changed the cultural landscape of the Yadkin River valley in central North Carolina from a 19th century traditional agricultural society to primarily a 20th century industrial society. Villages, buildings, structures, ferries, roads and bridges within the reservoir’s boundaries were either relocated, removed, or inundated when the lakes were impounded.


The cultural landscape of the Yadkin FERC area is now representative of the 20th century effects of the dam and powerhouse construction, and reservoir impoundment. Within the past fifty years, sections of the shoreline have also been extensively developed for residential construction especially along Abbott and Swearing Creeks on High Rock Lake , and Beaverdam Creek on Badin Lake . The National Forest Service has also developed sections of the shoreline along Badin Lake for recreational uses.

In order to complete a cultural landscape study of the Yadkin FERC project area, the Consultant proposes the following actions:


1. Completion of historical research on the Yadkin River valley area between the vicinity of Trading Ford on the north to the southern boundary of the Falls Reservoir on the south. This research will include a review of primary and secondary source materials pertaining to communities along the river, significant persons or families in the area, agricultural use and development, mining, logging or other industrial activities, road construction and development, ferry landings and fords, military use or actions, and other impacts on the landscape. This review will also include a discussion of prehistoric use of the project area. This information will be compiled from previous archaeological reports completed in the Yadkin River region and include impacts to the landscape by Native Americans.


2. Identification of buildings and structures which existed within the project area such as dwellings and outbuildings, commercial buildings, churches, schools, social buildings, cemeteries, and other uses.


3. The Consultant will utilize all readily available 19th and early 20th century maps of the project area. These maps may include countywide USGS quad maps, soil survey and geologic survey maps, road maps, Civil War-era maps, and overall county maps. The North Carolina Archives, University of North Carolina , the David Rumsey Map Collection, maps at county libraries, and other sources will be examined for this study. Maps, photographs, land records and other documents on file at the Alcoa Badin office will be reviewed and incorporated into the document. The US Forest Service owns property in Davidson and Montgomery Counties within the project area and records pertaining to land acquisition will also be reviewed.  


4.  The Consultant will contact county historians and historical groups in Stanly, Montgomery , Davie , Davidson, and Rowan Counties to gain additional information on the project area. Of particular interest will be the acquisition of historical photographs of buildings, individuals, views, and lifestyles to illustrate the cultural landscape of the project area. Historical photographs will be examined at the North Carolina Archives, the Southern Historical Collection and the UNC Photograph Collections at Chapel Hill , the Duke Photograph Collections, and photographs on file with APGI at Badin.  Relevant photographs will be reviewed and copied for inclusion within the report. 


5. For the Trading Ford area of the Yadkin Project, the Consultant will review studies and reports completed by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) within the Trading Ford vicinity. Several studies have already been completed of the Trading Ford by NCDOT and within this area the agency has identified the Wil-Cox Bridge and Fort York site as meeting National Register criteria.[2] Following the review of these reports, the Consultant will provide an assessment of the need for any additional cultural landscape description in the Trading Ford area of the Yadkin Project.


6.  Upon the completion of research, the Consultant will utilize present-day USGS quad maps of the project area to identify any possible landscape elements that remain along the shoreline. For any extant properties that may be potentially significant, the Consultant will conduct site visits to record any surface features which remain. It is anticipated that the majority of properties identified in this study will be beneath the surface of the reservoirs. Possible sites along the shoreline may include sections of roadbeds, cemeteries, building foundations, ferry crossings, bridges, remnants of farmsteads such as outbuildings and stone walls, and vegetation such as fruit trees and domestic plantings.




At the conclusion of the research, field survey, and NRHP assessment phases, a draft report will be prepared that contains the following information.


  1. An overview of the history of hydroelectric power in North Carolina .


  1. An overview of the history of Alcoa and its operations in North Carolina .


  1. Architectural, historical and photographic documentation of the four developments.


  1. A listing of hydroelectric property types and registration requirements.


  1. Recommendations for or against NRHP eligibility of the four developments.


  1. Recommendations, if any, to changes in the NRHP status or boundaries for the Narrows Development.


7.   An analysis of the cultural landscape of the Yadkin FERC project area containing an historical overview of the project area, how the cultural landscape has evolved over time, maps and photographs documenting the history of the area and identified resources along the shoreline or within the FERC boundary. All properties subject to field survey will be discussed and reviewed for their eligibility to meet National Register criteria. The report will contain an analysis of the cultural landscape of the Yadkin River valley prior to its acquisition and inundation in the 20th century by Alcoa, what remains today along the shoreline and within the project area, and the identification of significant properties. The report will also identify potentially eligible properties presently submerged which may need protection during times of drawdowns and drought.     


The draft report will be distributed to the IAG for review and comment, the comments addressed, and a final report prepared.  Upon acceptance of the final report by the SHPO, nominations for any NRHP-eligible properties will be prepared in accordance with National Register standards.







  1. Physical inventory, photography, historical research                   August 2003-January 2004

      and NRHP assessments           


  1. Draft Report                                                                             February 2004


  1. Final Report                                                                             May 2004


  1. Submittal of NRHP Nominations to SHPO                               July 2004                                                                    



[1]National Register Bulletin 30, Guidelines for Evaluating and Documenting Rural Historical Landscapes,” ( Washington : National Park Service), 1.

[2] Mary Pope Furr, NCDOT, Telephone Interview, 15 October, 2003 .