What Makes Living on High Rock Lake So Special?
I have met dozens of lake-living residents since I have started this blog and I hope to feature several others over the next few months. For this month’s blog I wanted to introduce you to one long-term resident and another who found High Rock Lake through research and good business sense.
A Love of Lake Living – Ed Snow
Camping on the shores of High Rock Lake back in the late 60’s got Ed Snow thinking that lake living was right for him and his young family. The Snow family bought their first boat in 1968 and navigated the waters and various coves of High Rock Lake. He recalled his son at two years of age taking naps on the V berth seat cushions while beached on an undeveloped parcel. The views were spectacular; seeing the far-off mountain range and immaculate sunrises pass the High Rock dam, is what ultimately hooked the family.
In 1970, Alcoa started to sell off some of its real estate and Anchor Downs became the first development on the Rowan County side of HRL. The Snow family got on the Alcoa real estate list of those who desired lake frontage. As a matter of fact, Ed was the third name on the list, which meant he might be able to get that special, natural sandy beach the family had become familiar with during their boat and camping trips.
It was still very early in the development with only a dirt road going into the site where honeysuckle grew wild. Ed discovered ‘his’ perfect location. The actual site they had been using for the past few years could be their very own lake property. It was serendipitous. Finally, their dream of lakeside living was achieved. The lot needed to be cleaned out for construction, and this began the next chapter for the Snow Family, which were picnics while trees were dropped and burned to make way for the family home. “I remember sleeping in the family van on weekends, as we were so excited to be working our property ourselves and wanted to get as much done in a full day’s work. The beach-side bonfires were great for grilling and planning out where the home would be situated,” said Snow.
In October 1977, the Snows moved into their home and continue to reside at their lakeside retreat.
Ed Snow joined High Rock Lake Association (HRLA) as a member then later served on the board of directors, having a personal interest in the lake and wanting to ensure that the residents such as he and his family had a voice for their property and the lake levels. “The water levels were our biggest challenge back in the day. At first, we all just accepted it was the way it was, regardless of winter or summer months. Then our board members delved into the agreements with Alcoa (former ownership of the dam system thus lake levels) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and we created a satisfactory understanding for recreational use of the lake,” continued Snow.
For years, the younger Snow, Lee, joined his father at the monthly board meetings hearing firsthand what is of importance to the 4,000 residents of the lake; now Lee is the president of HRLA, keeping the family name and love of lake living on the forefront for all lake residents.
A Way of Living
High Rock Lake is known for fishing (bass, crappie and catfish), but water recreation is certainly a pastime. With fewer boat traffic, small boats and water skiing is ideal. With three generations of Snows living on the lake currently, the family takes full advantage of what lake living is all about. “It’s a wonderful place. I can breathe and relax once I am home in the evening. Its refreshing, a mini-vacation everyday just sitting out on your own dock looking out at the lake, seeing the natural habitat and even waving at visitors enjoying our lake for recreation purposes.”
“One of the best things about High Rock is that it is less commercialized than Lake Norman. We do have a few amenities, and I would be open for another marina with fuel and maybe a restaurant with a different menu selection in addition to what we already have as a nice addition. Let’s dip our toe in on adding lakeside businesses, not jump in with both feet so to speak,” continued Snow.
Finding the Right Fit – Mikey Wetzel
Originally from the San Francisco Bay area, Wetzel saw property values soar to beyond what normal working folks could attain for a home on the water. Since his work allowed for telecommuting, his sights expanded throughout the U.S., and North Carolina was high on the list.
“My family and I moved to High Rock Lake 12 years ago from the west coast. Our dream was to live full time on a lake and we went about our search with a scientific methodology – the criteria: warm weather, affordable, and near a major city for entertainment, good dining options and a major airport,” described Mikey Wetzel, owner of Go Burrito, Salisbury. “High Rock Lake was a no brainer. The lake residents here have a laid-back attitude, no snobs allowed. Seeing kids growing up on a lake, swimming, skipping rocks, fishing, boating and jet skiing with friends is special.”
After this process, Wetzel says he could help others decide on decision making criteria for lake living sunrise versus sunsets, water depths, sandy beach, proximity to amenities/downtown, main channel views, location near bridges, etc.
When I asked what additions or amenities he would you like to see on the lake he said, “I really would like HRL to see a diversity of restaurants. Having other waterfront dining options would be more appealing to attract Salisbury and surrounding communities to experience what HRL has to offer.”
You don’t have to wait for new restaurants to come visit. High Rock Lake is already planning activities for next year. “I am hoping to bring back ‘Float the Goat’ concert with Darryl Harwood (a China Grove resident) next summer. We saw success from this summer’s event, all the while raising awareness and funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I would like to see a Poker Run on the Rowan County side. The annual Rowan Chamber Dragon Boat Festival is a must see and do event. I think we could expand it with entertainment that would showcase the lake and its amenities.”
What is the best thing about lake living for Mikey Wetzel? “Everything! Everyday, I feel like I won in life with a great view.”
I would love to hear from you on what your favorite lake activity is, or someone that you would like me to feature in 2020. Please email me at highrock@YourRowan.com
N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission is the state government agency created by the General Assembly in 1947 to conserve and sustain the state’s fish and wildlife resources through research, scientific management, wise use, and public input. The Commission is the regulatory agency responsible for the enforcement of N.C. fishing, hunting, trapping, and boating laws.
When the lake gets busy, trash happens. Good thing Rowan County has fantastic community-minded individuals and groups to take care of the well-being of High Rock Lake. And we need you to join us! There are ample opportunities in the coming weeks to clean, learn and enjoy the lake.
I know we are all ready to get out on the lake, but are we? We have been on High Rock Lak a thousand times but really what should we do BEFORE we get out there and let the breeze flow through our hair?