CALDERWOOD DAM CONSTRUCTION
A photo collection
by Sharon H. Anglim
Blount Journal Fall 2023
ALCOA began developing the watershed of the Little Tennessee Valley in 1909 to provide ample amounts of electricity necessary to power its planned aluminum smelting operations in Blount County. Under the leadership of ALCOA engineer Isaac Glidden Calderwood (1871–1941), three dams, Cheoah (1919), Santeetlah (1928), and Calderwood (1930), were completed in a remote section of the valley along the Tennessee-North Carolina border.
The community of Calderwood was initially known as "Alcoa", but was renamed in honor of I. G. Calderwood in 1930 after the company reapplied the name "Alcoa" to its main company town in northern Blount County. At its peak, the population of Calderwood reached 3,000. Only three buildings remained after the town was deserted and later razed in the 1960s. While the buildings are gone, Calderwood Dam remains in operation and was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1989.
In 2015 the Blount County Genealogical and Historical Society was gifted a volume of 60 photographs by the Vinalhaven Historical Society in Maine. While not confirmed, it is believed that the photo album may have originally belonged to I. G. Calderwood, who was at one time a resident of Maine. With gratitude, we accepted and scanned the photos for future reference. The beautiful collection of photographs is stored virtually on the Blount County Public Library
website (under Blount County Virtual Archives) and linked from the BCGHS website.