American Rivers, a national nonprofit organization, is working to create a blue trail along the Tuckasegee River, thanks to a recently awarded $65,000 grant. The completed map will detail ”what is where” along 50 miles of river from the Tuckasegee community to Fontana Lake in Swain County. It is another feather in the cap of Swain County, which is quickly gaining a reputation as the “West Yellowstone of the East.”
The Tuckasegee River is a diverse and ecologically diverse area and beautiful area. That’s part of what drew American Rivers to the Tuck. The organization has brought its Blue Trails initiative to rivers across the country, from Arizona to South Carolina. A tributary of the Little Tennessee River, the Tuck sees substantial recreational.
One of the project’s goal is removal of the Cullowhee Dam. An in-depth examination of the safety of the Cullowhee dam is in the works. Built in 1930, the dam provides water for Western Carolina University (WNC) and neighboring communities. It spans the river just above its intersection with Old Cullowhee Road. WNC has undertaken a feasibility study to determine whether the nearly century old dam should be removed.
Should the Cullowhee Dam be removed, the entire Tuck River project area would be completely undammed. It will open up new, unimpeded river miles to float fishing. As of this writing, the future of the Cullowhee Dam remains to be seen. American Rivers’ current focus is on the Tuckasegee Blue Trail. Blue Trail are created to allow people to explore rivers. American Rivers will continue to seek additional grant funding to provide funding beyond the project’s initial two-year Blue Trail mapping phase.