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Official Website of Lookout Mountain Alabama

The Dekalb County Tourist Association welcomes you to Lookout Mountain Alabama


Suggested travels plans to Lookout Mountain 

History of DeKalb County Alabama -  A.A. Miller, Builder of DeSoto Dam

Arthur Abernathy Miller, a brilliant self-educated electrical engineer built the twenty foot high dam above DeSoto Falls in the mid 1920’s. He built the dam to help supply power for his hydroelectric generator which he constructed below the falls, on the West Side of the gorge. A square concrete base still marks the spot where electrical power was generated for the Towns of Fort Payne, Mentone, Valley Head, Collinsville, Alabama and Menlo, Georgia. Miller knew he had found an ideal location for his plant at this picturesque spot atop Lookout Mountain.

Miller hired many local men for the construction of his dam, which was first built to a height of 10 feet. Later various people of the area contributed sufficient funds to raise the dam an additional 10 feet in order to increase the size of the lake. A timber dam up to the river was flooded; the lake enlarged and was stocked with bass and bream to provide better fishing as well as more enjoyable boating and swimming.

Miller was born in 1872 in Lincoln County, North Carolina and died December 26, 1943. He had 1 daughter by his first wife, who died. His second marriage was to Pearl S. Callahan of Bedford County, Virginia. They had 2 daughters. Electricity always intrigued Miller and was by far his most favorite professional pursuit. He had furnished electrical power for two towns in Virginia and one in West Virginia before coming to Fort Payne from Chattanooga in 1921.

At first Fort Payne was furnished with electricity from dark until midnight. After a number of local women purchased new electric irons, power was supplied on Thursday afternoons to enable ladies to iron. Later electricity was made available all day and night. There were no central switches for the street lights during this time so Ernest Wallis, a young school boy became Fort Payne’s equivalent of the "old lamp lighter", riding his bicycle up and down the streets at dusk to turn the lights on and returning after dawn to turn them off. On many occasions Miller jumped up from his evening meal and rushed through the darkness from his home on the corner of third and Gault to restore electric service after incidents of power failure.

Miller saw great possibilities with the DeSoto Falls area and together with Phiffer Smith, purchased 300 acres of land surrounding the falls. They formed the DeSoto Falls Development Company and built the first road to DeSoto Falls where they had planned to build a community clubhouse and tennis courts. A historical fortress area below the falls was to be preserved as a park. They had created an attractive brochure describing the park but unfortunately the great depression prevented development of the beautiful park they desired.

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1503 Glenn Blvd. SW Fort Payne, AL 35968

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