Lake Nod was one of the many artificial reservoirs created by the TVA during the massive electrification push in the 1930s. Damming up the Soap River, so named because of the soapstone deposits near its now-drowned ford, Lake Nod was named after Joseph Nod, a pioneer in the area whose descendents remained in the area and evern worked on the dam.

Of course they were among the 3500 people displaced by the flooding, but at least they got a steady paycheck for a while. 

The generator machinery was never installed at Lake Nod or the Nod Dam, though. The project was abandoned in 1937 for unclear reasons, although the TVA cited structural concerns and subsidance. It was slated to be demolished before the reservoir finished filling, but the funding for that fell through as well–it was scheduled to begin in late 1941, as it happened.

The TVA put up warning signs, locked the structure, and walked away.

Over the years, Lake Nod began hosting a cottage industry of illegal fishing and boating. Officially both were banned because of structural concerns with the dam, and construction was prohibited downstream out of fear of flooding. But things were built anyway and people came anyway.

The Nod Dam itself became a popular target for urban explorers, representing as it did the rare opportunity to see the inside of a structure that, but for the lack of functioning machinery, was the equal of any other TVA structure. Authorities discouraged this, and people were arrested, but they were lackluster at both pursuits. There simply wasn’t the budget for effective enforcement.

The Interior Universal Investigators of Nashville, the IUI, scheduled a covert tour of the Nod Dam as their spring 2015 urban exploration opener. They entered just after midnight on April 30, 2015.

The first reports of downstream flooding and collapse began reaching the authorities almost exactly 24 hours later on May 1.

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