Lake Norman, created between 1959 and 1964 as part of the construction of the Cowans Ford Dam by Duke Energy, is the largest man-made body of fresh water located in North Carolina. Lake Norman is fed by the Catawba River, and drains into Mountain Island Lake to the south. It was named after former Duke Power president Norman Atwater Cocke. Lake Norman is sometimes referred to as the “inland sea” of North Carolina; it offers 520 miles of shoreline and a surface area of more than 50 square miles. Lake Norman provides electricity to the Piedmont region of the Carolinas. It powers the generators at the hydroelectric station at Cowans Ford Dam, is used by the coal-fired Marshall Steam Station, and by McGuire Nuclear Station to cool the reactors whilst generating the steam that drives their turbines. The lake supplies water to Lincoln County, Catawba County, Iredell County, Mooresville, Charlotte, and other towns in Mecklenburg County, particularly Cornelius, Davidson and Huntersville.
Duke Power partnered with the state of North Carolina to establish Lake Norman State Park. It has also built two bank fishing areas and eight public boating access areas along the shoreline. One site is leased to Mecklenburg County and one to Iredell County. Popular game fish in Lake Norman include catfish, crappie, bluegill and yellow perch, as well as striped, largemouth, spotted, white bass hybrids, and long-nosed gar. Lake Norman has also become home to multiple species of wildlife, including eastern box turtle, soft shell turtle, snapping turtle, black (eastern) rat snake and the Northern water snake.
Lake Norman is the location for one of the International Jet Sport Boats Association (IJSBA) tour stops. Team Tweek, a race team headquartered in Mooresville, helps promote and coordinate the annual event. It also boasts two yacht clubs: the Lake Norman Yacht Club and the Peninsula Club. There are also many other marinas around the lake.