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Home North Carolina Stanly County City of Badin Historical Markers L'aluminium Francais

L'aluminium Francais

NC-740 at Falls Road, Badin, NC, USA

Latitude & Longitude: 35° 24' 21.258", -80° 6' 59.9436"
  North Carolina State Historical Marker
    North Carolina State
Historical Marker
    Marker Text:
"French company in 1913 began Narrows Dam and town named for Adrien Badin, president Southern Aluminum, a subsidiary. Office stood 1/2 mi. N.W."
     Badin historically is a mill village, built up around an aluminum plant established by French interests in 1912. The company, L’Aluminum Français, through its subsidiary Southern Aluminum Company, purchased nearly 30,000 acres in Stanly and neighboring counties in that year. In an effort to create a cheap source of electrical power to produce aluminum, they attempted to harness the power of the Narrows of the Yadkin, a steep gorge in the Uwharrie Mountains where the river is constricted to less than 100 feet wide. An earlier attempt to fix a dam nearby, an effort led by George Whitney in 1899, had ended in failure after over nineteen million dollars were spent.

     In the spring of 1913, Southern Aluminum Company began construction of the massive dam and drew up plans for a town to be called Badin, after Adrien Badin, the company’s president. The village, designed by New York architects, has a distinct European character, with four apartment quadraplexes built to house the French workers. The French also completed a main office, laboratory, and other buildings as well as utility systems.

     The French workers, many of whom were reservists, suspended construction and left the U.S. in 1914 with the start of World War I. In 1915, in one of the largest real estate deals ever in the state, Aluminum Company of American (Alcoa) acquired the unfinished dam and related assets for five million dollars. When completed in July 1917 the dam stood 216 feet high, then the world’s largest overflow-type dam. Today Badin Dam, Badin Lake, and the town exist as reminders of French industrial interests in the early 20th century South. Alcoa’s Badin Works plant operated at the site from 1917 to 2002.

Brent D. Glass, Badin: A Town as the Narrows: A Historical and Architectural Survey (1982)
Donna Dodenhoff, Stanly County: The Architectural Legacy of a Rural North Carolina County (1992)
Charles C. Carr, Alcoa: An American Enterprise (1952)
Ivey L. Sharpe and Edgar F. Pepper III, Stanly County U.S.A.: The Story of an Area and an Era (1990)
(Raleigh) News and Observer, August 13, 2002
L'aluminium Francais Historical Marker Location Map, Badin, North Carolina