Beautiful and pristine Fontana Reservoir. One of the prides of the Forest Service and the State of NC. However there is more of a sinister background.
Hazel Creek is now a 60 foot deep channel in the shape of a V. Hazel Creek used to be a beautiful, rock filled stream with 100’ s of American families, mountain people, lived along it’s banks. This picture shows the drawdown that occurs during the Fall of the year in order to prepare the reservoir for the snow runoff during the spring.
Gone is the mountain town of Japan, pronounced JA-Pan.
Bushnell is under the waters of the reservoir.
Judson, a pretty substantial community, with obviously 2 churches, underwater.
But our focus is one of the more stranger stories of Proctor, NC. Proctor was depleted of all it’s citizens but, was never flooded.
Here is the bridge as it looks today. You can visually place the missing structures in the picture.
This is the normal look that Hazel Creek always had.
But first, our journey begins at the Fontana Marina. Actually Fontana was another town inundated by the waters. The town of Fontana is actually the work town that housed all the workers who built the Fontana Dam.
Let’s meet our friendly mountain boat captain.
Notice how the land was cleared of all trees and brush all the way to the bottom. The water is blue green and crystal clear.
My partner in crime and Brother in Law - Jack Anderson
This is the first bridge that you come to when you are nearing the Proctor site. It, for many years, crossed the channel, however the park service removed it and threw it up on the bank to improve navigation. It floats for a few hours and then sinks. It looks small but is as wide as a single lane.
This is called the Lakeshore Trail which was the road into Proctor. The Lakeshore Trail is now a popular hiking trail through the area.
The campground area you come upon soon on your left was originally the town ballfield. The, now gone, bridge to the Possum Hollow of Proctor would be to the small trail to the left. Possum Hollow is the location of all the cemeteries in the town.
Possum Hollow bridge, back in the day.
Directly across from the ballfield (campground) up on a rise you will find the site of the Proctor school. I did not take any pictures of the area however, there was an obvious flat area like a road. The area was mostly overgrown with pine trees.
Another view of the school and the grounds. This picture was taken from the road.
The two explorers on the main bridge into Proctor.
This is the remaining part of the original bridge foundation. The park service built the newer bridge and left this along Struttin Street.
Strutten Street and the RR ran along the south side of Hazel Creek with many homes and the Ritter sawmill depot, offices, and commisary
Many artifacts and structures can be found in the brush. This hiking trail is popular but little used. It is also very hard to remove items from the ghost town site since you must depend on the park service to pick you up at the end. For this reason artifacts are everywhere.
Ritter Lumber Company on Struttin Street. This was also the commisary. Notice the boardwalk. The town had a consistent boardwalk on both Struttin Street and Calico Street. When the town was first built they had outhouses overhanging the creek in front of all the houses. This proved to be very unpleasant as well as unsightly. The company moved the facilities to inside or in the back of each home.
Same structure during the winter.
I could have filled a pickup with the buckets.
Ritter built for the residents most of the houses to a pretty high quality for the time. Calico Street was lined with a boardwalk and white picket fence.
The community building or movie theatre – The top floor contained a pool hall and a barber shop and was reahed by an outside staircase. The movie thieatre sat 200-300peopleSeating was on wooden benches and the screen was on the back wall of the small stage. The movies were silent so the audience read the subtitles outloud which helped those who could not read. A band from North Proctor was hired to provide needed music. There was no concession so it was “bring your own” if you were going to get hungry. The building later became the town general store.
Just imagine a row of houses to the left with white picket fences and a boardwalk along the road.
This is the only structure that remains intact in Proctor. Although it looks pretty good it is only used as a shelter for hikers to get out of the weather and the park service on the yearly cemetery tours.
Other views of the Calhoun house
How bought a guessing game to identify these items I found crawling under the house.
The caption on this picture was RR trestle in Proctor NC. The tunnel behind her confuses me a bit since I saw no evidence of a tunnel however, the picture of the young lady was just too cool to pass up.
Proctor NC slideshow
Proctor,North Carolina Death of a Mountain Community
Ritter Lumber Company on Struttin Street. This was also the commissary. Notice the boardwalk. The town had a consistent boardwalk on both Struttin Street and Calico Street. When the town was first built they had outhouses overhanging the creek in front of all the houses.This proved to be very unpleasant as well as unsightly. The company moved the facilities to inside or in the back of each home.
Ritter Office and Company Store.Notice the wooden Boardwalk.
Ritter Company HouseNear the samearea on Calico Street
Early Picture of Community Hall and Theatre. Picture of the same structure after it becamethe general store.
Local citizens were given work at good wages for the first time. All they had to do was build a dam that would inundate their homes under 80 feet of water.
Fontana workers cafeteria. This was the 3rd Fontana site. The other two are under the reservoir. This site is now a part of the Fontana resort.
In 1943 a road to the abandoned properties and cemeteries was promised and a few miles Was built but environmentalists, The Park Service, and the government shut it down. It not extends to this tunnel and stops on the other side.