This sign at the entrance to Summit Camps was located at what is now the intersection of Conservation Road with Reasonover Road. (Cedar Mountain Community Scrapbook 1970)
Taken in 1968, possibly from the dam, this photograph shows where trees were cleared for the eventual site of Lake Julia. Note the road going through the site and the smoke from burning brush. (Cedar Mountain Community Scrapbook 1968).
1948 topographic map. Note the confluence of Briery Fork Creek and Reasonover Creek.
1978 topographic map. Large pink overlay shows location of Lake Julia. (Standingstone Mountain Quadrangle, U. S. Geological Survey).
Concrete spillway for Lake Julia. This spillway establishes the high water level for Lake Julia. (Photo by Kent Wilcox)
Water from the spillway courses down a streambed that was blasted out of the rocks with dynamite. This artificial streambed reconnects with the original bed for Reasonover Creek just upstream from the confluence with the Little River. (Photo by Kent Wilcox)
Summer activities on Lake Julia at the Summit Camps included sailing and canoeing. (Photos courtesy of Kit and Marilyn Garren)
Counting lakes that are 10 or more acres in size, Minnesota has 11,842 natural lakes. Most of those lakes formed in depressions created by glaciers during the most recent glacial period 9,000 to 15,000 years ago. Those glaciers never extended as far south as North Carolina. Consequently, there are not nearly as many natural lakes in North Carolina. In fact, there are only 22, all of which are located in the coastal plain. How those natural depressions formed in NC is still a matter of conjecture – some say fires in deep layers of peat created depressions, others speculate that a large meteorite exploded and left a trail of impact craters across eastern NC. In any case, there is total agreement that all of the lakes in Western North Carolina, including the six lakes in DuPont State Recreational Forest, are artificial.
Lake Julia was the first artificial lake in what is now DuPont Forest. At 99 acres, it is also the largest. In the fall of 1967, Ben Cart Sr purchased about 1,400 acres in Cedar Mountain from private landowners and began construction of the Summit Camps for Boys and Girls. A crew of local men was hired to clear trees and vegetation from a relatively level area around the confluence of Briery Fork Creek and Reasonover Creek. In December of 1967, Mr. Cart purchased 40 acres from the DuPont Corporation, which owned 10,000 acres adjacent to the camp site where they built a plant to manufacture X-ray film. This 40 acre parcel spanned Reasonover Creek and was the ideal location for the dam for the proposed lake. In 1968 an earthen dam was built across Reasonover Creek using red clay dug from the eventual lake bed. A small knoll north of the dam was excavated for a concrete spillway. Dynamite was used to slice through a hill down to bedrock and create a new streambed from the base of the spillway downstream to the original bed for Reasonover Creek. By 1969, the waters from Briery Fork and Reasonover Creeks had created a 99 acre lake that was initially called Summit Lake. This name erroneously appears on U. S. Geological Survey maps as recently as 2017. In 1971, the lake was renamed Lake Julia in honor of Ben Cart’s wife.
Lake Julia, which is 25 to 35 feet deep at its deepest point, was the focal point for the Summit Camps. Activities on Lake Julia included swimming, sailing, canoeing, water skiing, and scuba diving. Both camps closed after the 1984 summer session. Mr. Cart sold his entire 1,400 tract, including Lake Julia, to the DuPont Corporation on March 27, 1991. The DuPont Corporation purchased this tract primarily to acquire Lake Julia, which they needed to supply drinking and manufacturing water. The plant had initially depended on water from the Little River, but as the plant expanded, that source was sometimes inadequate or contaminated with sediments. Recreational use of Lake Julia was banned during the period when it provided drinking water for employees at the manufacturing plant. The recreational ban was removed after the plant shut down and the NC Forest Service acquired the property.
Today Lake Julia is once again a popular recreational site. A dock at the end of Lake View Loop provides easy access for non-motorized boats. No permit is required to paddle a canoe, kayak, or paddle board on Lake Julia, but this equipment must be hand-carried or transported on a non-motorized cart to and from the lake. Swimming is permitted but visitors should use caution, as there are no life guards on duty. Fishing is allowed with a valid NC fishing license. Lake Julia contains a number of fish species, including bass and blue gill. Thanks to the absence of agricultural and manufacturing activities upstream, the water quality is pristine. However, the NC Forest Service discourages drinking water from Lake Julia because disease-carrying animals such as beaver, deer, raccoons, coyotes, bear, various rodents, and numerous species of birds live near Lake Julia, Briery Fork Creek and Reasonover Creek.
By Kent Wilcox Kent is a retired scientist who lives in Cedar Mountain, NC. He has been a member of Friends of DuPont Forest since 2002 and served on the board of directors for six years.
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