The Tugaloo River is formed by the Chattooga and Tallulah Rivers near the juncture of Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina. It flows along the Georgia border through Oconee and Anderson Counties, accepting drainage from the Chauga River and other smaller streams before joining the Seneca River to form the Savannah River. Power plants erected along the Tugaloo River beginning in the 1910s formed Lake Yonah and Lake Tugaloo.
Hartwell Dam, completed in 1963 at the juncture of the Seneca, Tugaloo, and Savannah Rivers, caused the waters in the Savannah River basin upstream to swell and form Lake Hartwell. The lake covers nearly 56,000 acres and has 962 miles of shoreline that stretch 49 miles up the Tugaloo River and 45 miles up the Seneca River.
The name “Tugaloo” is likely of Native American origin, probably meaning “two.” The first settlements along the Tugaloo River were Cherokee. After the Revolutionary War, white settlers received land grants along the river in modern Oconee County. The early white settlers built several small blockhouses or forts along the Tugaloo River, including Fort Madison.
Oconee County Historical Society. Historic Sites of Oconee County, S.C. 2d ed. N.p.: Oconee County Historical Society, 1991.