CATEGORIES On the Scene

Harrison Ford was already a gigantic box office draw when he signed on to star as Dr. Richard Kimble in the 1993 big-screen adaptation of the classic '60s television series 'The Fugitive.' The film would do nothing to detract from his popularity; 'The Fugitive' brought in over $183 million domestically and $368 million worldwide. Yes, it was another win for Ford.

But as great as Ford is in the movie, for many people the film belonged to Tommy Lee Jones and his unstoppable U. S. Marshall, Deputy Samuel Gerard, who hunts Kimble down in a single-minded chase across Illinois. Though the film climaxed in a three-way showdown between Kimble, Gerard and the true villain of the piece, most people remember it for the iconic confrontation between Kimble and Gerard atop a towering dam -- a dam that happens to be in North Carolina and not in Illinois at all.

Harrison Ford was already a gigantic box office draw when he signed on to star as Dr. Richard Kimble in the 1993 big-screen adaptation of the classic '60s television series 'The Fugitive.' The film would do nothing to detract from his popularity; 'The Fugitive' brought in over $183 million domestically and $368 million worldwide. Yes, it was another win for Ford.

But as great as Ford is in the movie, for many people the film belonged to Tommy Lee Jones and his unstoppable U. S. Marshall, Deputy Samuel Gerard, who hunts Kimble down in a single-minded chase across Illinois. Though the film climaxed in a three-way showdown between Kimble, Gerard and the true villain of the piece, most people remember it for the iconic confrontation between Kimble and Gerard atop a towering dam -- a dam that happens to be in North Carolina and not in Illinois at all.

Location as Character: One of the most famous chase scenes in movie history takes place in a most unlikely place -- in a series of tunnels deep within the Cheoah Dam. It ends in an even more unlikely fashion: as Kimble stands in the mouth of the tunnel, overlooking the incredible precipice to the water far below, Gerard comes up behind him, gun drawn. There's no way out for Kimble, who tries one last time to convince Gerard of his innocence."I didn't kill my wife," Kimble says. Gerard's famous answer? "I don't care."

That legendary line cemented Jones as an A-list star; in the context of the scene, it also provided Kimble with ample evidence that he had only one course of action: jump. It's hard to say just who was more surprised to see Kimble fling himself off the dam -- a bewildered Gerard or the movie's audience.


Historical Significance: The Cheoah Dam, which is located in Graham County, North Carolina, lies across the Tennessee river and as such is part of the Tennessee Valley Authority. Built during three years -- from 1916-1919 -- the Cheoah Dam, now known to locals as "The Fugitive Dam," provides hydroelectric power for Alcoa and is currently being upgraded and renovated thanks in part to money provided by last year's economic stimulus package.

Fun Fact: While the dam provided the exterior shots for the sequence, including Kimble's tiny body plummeting into the frothy waters below, interior shots of the tunnel chase had to be filmed elsewhere for one simple reason: Cheoah doesn't have any tunnels. Instead, that sequence was filmed in Chicago, leading to a fairly well-known goof: During the wide shots of Kimble falling, it can be clearly seen that there is no tunnel mouth for him to be falling out of. Whoops!

Directions: Cheoah Dam and Cheoah Lake are located in the heart of one of America's most scenic areas, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, just north of Tapoco, North Carolina. The easiest way to reach it is to take U.S. 129 south out of Knoxville, Tennessee, a trip that will take you about 75 minutes. Once there, you can then switch to North Carolina state route 28 and head east along the lakeside for a sweet view of the dam.

Visitor Info: This is a working dam, so the TVA isn't likely to let you crawl all over it. However, since this is located in a national park, there are plenty of other things to see and do in the area; we suggest checking out the Great Smoky Mountains National Park website for ideas when planning your trip.