Life on Keowee

Nestled amid the picturesque landscape of Upstate South Carolina, Lake Keowee is a hidden gem that beckons outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. With its crystal-clear waters and breathtaking surroundings, the lake has become a sought-after destination for residents and visitors alike. Our site explores the numerous activities and attractions around Lake Keowee and the Upstate, making it an ideal location for those seeking the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.

The Location

Located in Upstate, South Carolina, Lake Keowee is known for its abundance of recreational activities, natural beauty, and a thriving community, Lake Keowee and the Upstate have become an attractive location for real estate investment. Whether you're seeking a lakeside retreat, a cozy cabin in the woods, or a sprawling estate with panoramic views, the area offers a diverse range of properties to suit every taste and budget.

A Brief History: Lake Keowee

Lake Keowee is a man-made reservoir located in the upstate region of South Carolina, USA. Spanning across parts of Pickens and Oconee counties, the lake is a significant water source and recreational destination for residents and visitors alike. Its history is intertwined with the development of the region and the creation of hydroelectric power to support local industries. This narrative will explore the inception of Lake Keowee, the construction of the Keowee Dam, its role in energy generation, and its evolution into a popular recreational spot up to the current date.

Pre-Lake Keowee Era: Native American Presence

Before the formation of Lake Keowee, the area was home to various Native American tribes, including the Cherokee and the Catawba. The region's lush forests and waterways provided ample resources for their livelihoods. Evidence of their settlements and activities can still be found in some archaeological sites near the lake.

Early 20th Century: The Rise of Hydroelectric Power

In the early 1900s, the demand for electricity surged in South Carolina due to industrial growth. To meet this demand, various energy companies explored the potential of hydroelectric power generation in the region. In 1904, the Seneca River Power Company built the first hydroelectric plant on the Keowee River, now known as the Lower Keowee Hydroelectric Station. This was a significant step towards the eventual creation of Lake Keowee.

1930s - 1940s: The Duke Energy Era

In the 1930s, Duke Power Company, now known as Duke Energy, acquired the Seneca River Power Company's assets and took over the operation of the hydroelectric plant. Duke Energy recognized the need for more water storage to optimize electricity generation and manage water flows effectively. As a result, the idea of a reservoir began to take shape.

1960s: The Keowee-Toxaway Project

The Keowee-Toxaway Project was initiated in the 1960s as part of a larger plan to develop a series of hydroelectric reservoirs in the region. The main purpose was to create more water storage capacity and produce hydropower for the growing demand in the state. The project involved the construction of two dams, one on the Keowee River and another on the Little River (a tributary of the Keowee River).

1971: The Construction of Keowee Dam

In 1971, the construction of the Keowee Dam began. The dam's main objective was to create Lake Keowee by flooding the valley upstream of the dam. The Keowee Dam is an earthen embankment dam, designed to hold back the waters of the Keowee River and its tributaries, creating a large reservoir with a storage capacity of about 2.7 trillion gallons of water.

1973: Lake Keowee's Inundation

The rising waters of the Keowee River slowly filled the valley behind the newly constructed Keowee Dam. It took two years for the lake to reach its full pool level. During this period, homes, farms, and businesses in the area had to be relocated to make way for the reservoir. The lake eventually covered approximately 18,372 acres of land, resulting in the creation of Lake Keowee.

Role in Energy Generation and Water Management

Lake Keowee plays a crucial role in Duke Energy's hydropower operations. By controlling the flow of water through the Keowee Dam, the utility company manages the release of water downstream, ensuring a consistent and reliable supply of water for energy generation, recreation, and downstream water needs. The Keowee Dam is an essential component of the larger Keowee-Toxaway Project, which also includes Lake Jocassee, formed by the Toxaway Dam.

Lake Keowee's Impact on the Local Economy

After its creation, Lake Keowee had a significant impact on the local economy. The reservoir's clear blue waters and picturesque surroundings attracted tourists, boaters, and anglers, boosting tourism and hospitality industries in the region. The lake also became an attractive destination for second-home buyers and real estate development, further contributing to the local economy.

Ecological Considerations and Environmental Conservation

The formation of Lake Keowee significantly altered the landscape and natural habitat of the area. Environmental concerns arose regarding the impact on local wildlife, vegetation, and water quality. Over the years, efforts have been made to address these concerns and promote environmental conservation around the lake.

Current State and Recreational Activities

As of the present date, Lake Keowee remains a popular recreational destination. It offers a wide range of activities, including boating, fishing, water sports, camping, and hiking. The lake's clean waters attract swimmers and nature enthusiasts. Surrounding communities have developed amenities, marinas, and parks to cater to the needs of residents and visitors.


Lake Keowee's history is one of adaptation and transformation. From its inception as a hydroelectric project to becoming a cherished recreational spot, the lake continues to play a vital role in the lives of local communities and visitors alike. Its legacy as a source of energy and a natural paradise will undoubtedly shape the region's future for generations to come. As we look ahead, it is essential to strike a balance between economic development, ecological preservation, and the enjoyment of this magnificent reservoir.

Luxury Housing Market

Lake Keowee Real Estate Sales

The Lake Keowee housing market is not very competitive. The median sale price of a home in 29685 was $1.8M last month, up 28.9% since last year. The median sale price per square foot in 29685 is $375, down 0.79% since last year.

Ryan Tolley, Realtor

Your Local Lake Keowee Expert

Ryan Tolley is an accomplished and reputable professional realtor, known for his unwavering commitment to excellence. With a wealth of knowledge in the real estate industry, he expertly guides clients through the intricate process of buying or selling their properties. Ryan's innate ability to understand his clients' unique needs, coupled with his strong negotiation skills, guarantees outstanding results. Friendly, approachable, and reliable, Ryan Tolley is the go-to realtor for anyone seeking a smooth and successful real estate journey.


★ ★ ★ ★ ★

Ryan was awesome! He was always available to us and very helpful every step of the way throughout this process. Also he’s very kind and friendly, we enjoyed working with him and would be happy to work with him again in the future!

Kiele Singer

Luxury Homes

Lake Keowee and the Upstate region of South Carolina offer a unique blend of outdoor adventure, cultural richness, and community spirit. From water sports on the glistening lake to exploring picturesque hiking trails, the area caters to the interests of all. With its charming towns, thriving arts scene, and real estate opportunities, Lake Keowee remains an irresistible destination for those seeking an idyllic and enriching lifestyle in the heart of nature's embrace