Smith Mountain Lake didn’t just happen, you know. It’s a reservoir (a big one!) that was formed when the Appalachian Power Company put a dam in the Roanoke River in 1963, thus bringing hydroelectric goodness to the surrounding area.

Yesterday, the Reynolds kids and I went to see the dam. From our spot on the lake, it took 40 minutes to get there (almost as long as our drive to Target!), and it was through very rural countryside. You would never know there is a 235-foot-high concrete structure in the vicinity. (I like to entice the kids to an excursion with the promise of a cup of coffee, and lamentably, the nearest coffee shop was CJ’s, all the way back in Westlake near our house.) (We still went. To the dam and to CJ’s.)

Once you arrive, you go through a very nice picnic area near the base of the dam. That water is churning!The parking lot for the visitors’ center is up the mountain a little way, with impressive views.

Since we are living right here, we couldn’t miss checking out this engineering feat, and I’m glad we did. But if you go, remember to bring your own coffee.

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