Lake Jocassee is one of South Carolina's most beautiful places. The 7,565 acres of water and 75 miles of shoreline are located in northwest South Carolina in a pristine mountain environment.
South Carolina's state record brown trout and rainbow trout came from Lake Jocassee. Around the lake, there is little development. Most of the surrounding land is untouched by man. The lake is home to Devils Fork State Park.
The lake was created by the state in partnership with Duke Power in 1973. The clean and cold Appalachian mountain rivers that feed the lake keep its waters cool and clear with high visibilities year-round. The hydroelectric dam that formed the lake is 385 feet high and 1,750 feet long. The very deep crystal-clear water offers excellent fishing for trout.
The name Jocassee comes from the legend of a Cherokee maiden. An Oconee tribe, the "Brown Vipers" led by Chief Attakulla, inhabited the west side of the Whitewater river, while a rival tribe, "The Green Birds", lived on the east. Legend says that a young Green Bird warrior, Nagoochee, was not afraid to enter Brown Viper hunting grounds. On one occasion, he fell and broke his leg and was convinced he was going to die. Then he heard Jocassee, Attakulla's daughter, who brought him back to her father's lodge and nursed him back to health. Jocassee eventually fell in love with him, but in a later battle, Cheochee, Jocassee's brother, killed and brought Nagoochee's head back on his belt. Legend has it that Jocassee went into the water and did not sink but walked across the water to meet the ghost of Nagoochee. The name Jocassee means "Place of the Lost One."
The Jocassee Gorges area was once home to the part of the Cherokee Nation; it now lies 300 feet beneath the surface of the lake, near the Toxaway River. Nearby Keowee Town was a major hub in the Cherokee Path that connected Cherokee towns and villages throughout the area. Early 18th century traders delivered as many as 200,000 deerskins annually to Charleston, South Carolina and local Indians became well supplied with European firearms, ammunition, tools and clothing as a result. However, mounting discord between Europeans and Cherokees led to war in 1759. In 1785, General Andrew Pickens hosted a large gathering of Indian chiefs leading to a treaty that gave all of the Jocassee gorges area, with the exception of northern Oconee County, to the United States; the Oconee mountains were not ceded until 1815. European settlers, mostly of Scottish and Irish descent, came from Virginia and Pennsylvania as well as from Charleston. Land grants in the Jocassee area go back to 1791.