Christina Cook, a freelance reporter had an article published in Oxford American Magazine in fall of 2015.
To read this article in its entirety go to
Helen Cable Vance
Mildred Cable Johnson
Leeunah (Lee) Woods
QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT HAVE ABOUT THE NORTH SHORE AND ITS CEMETERIES
Where is the North Shore located?
The North Shore is located in Swain County, North Carolina and is the land on the north side of Fontana Lake.
What are the North Shore Cemeteries? They are cemeteries that were left above the high water mark in 1943 when land was bought, sold and condemned by TVA to build the Fontana Dam and Fontana Lake.
How many cemeteries are you talking about? There are 26 cemeteries with over 1,000 graves.
Why were they left in this area? TVA representative told all home owners in that area that a road would be built to replace the access that they had then (Hwy. 288). It would be built back to this area so they could come back any time to the family and community cemeteries. The graves were above the high water mark so they would not be flooded and with a new road into the area, families could return any time they wished.
Were these the only cemeteries in the area? No, there were lots more but they were located below what was to be the high water mark of Fontana Lake.
What happened to these other cemeteries? The family was contacted where possible and permission given to TVA to have their family members body moved to a new cemetery in Bryson City named Lauada.
What if they could not get in touch with a family member?
Then they were left in the ground and the water of Fontana Lake now covers them.
I heard that the Cherokee Indian, Tsali’s grave was in that area and was not moved, is that correct?
Yes, it is. For more information about Tsali, go to the Cherokee Indian Reservation site. Tsali was killed at a town that was located in this area and now flooded beneath the waters of Fontana Lake, known as Bushnell.
When did the first families move into the area? Just after 1830. First on one side of Welch Ridge was Samuel Cable, wife and children from Cades Cove, Tennessee and the other family on the opposite side of Welch Ridge was Moses Proctor, wife and children. Moses settled on the side that became known as Proctor, NC.
The North Shore Cemetery Association was and is a non-profit group organized for the purpose of preserving the graveyards and general history of the Fontana Basin. Organized in 1977, with an immediate aim to gain general access to the cemeteries of the North Shore in conformity of the contractual agreements that formulated in 1943 between Federal, State and County Agencies. Another aim of the Association was the planning of decorations for the cemeteries along the North Shore of Fontana Lake as were held in the area before 1943 and the removal of families. It was and is made up of former residents and their descendants who lived in this area and whose land was taken for the building of the Fontana Dam and Basin area.
On the SCHEDULE page you will find the dates, times of departure and location for each cemetery decoration.
We worked for years for the legal ingress and egress that was promised to our families in
Swain County, North Carolina, when homes and lands were taken for the purpose of building Fontana Lake. We were given a promise by our government that a road would be built to connect the existing roads in the area in order for families to get to the cemeteries that were left along the North Shore and above the high water mark of the lake.
Swain County, North Carolina, and the Federal government have settled the 1943 Agreement as of 2010. Our cemeteries and access have been preserved, maybe not the way we wanted, but our families and descendants will be able to visit our old home sites, town sites and family cemeteries for generations to come.
We will always be able to “go home again”, so to speak, due to the preservation of that area by the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Very few people can stand on the ground where for 5 generations their family lived, grew up, worked and died. It is very much a treat and honor to walk the roads, visit the towns, home sites and cemeteries of the North Shore of Fontana Lake.
We will be sharing pictures, articles and stories about the long road to our cemeteries.
We will also be sharing memories of life on Hazel Creek.
We hope you will enjoy our site and share any pictures, stories or information that you have with us.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Helen, Mildred and Lee
located on the north shore of Fontana Lake in Swain County, NC
North Shore Cemeteries
Welcome to the official site of
The North Shore Cemetery Association and North Shore Historical Society