The concrete arch dam is 180 ft (55 m) high by 800 ft long, impounding the Pigeon River, near Interstate 40. The brick powerplant actually stands 6.2 miles (10.0 km) from the dam. A tunnel 6.2 miles (10.0 km) long stretches north from the dam to the power plant, near the state line.
The Walters Dam was started in 1927 and was completed in 1930. The project was started by Carolina Power & Light and was completed by its affiliate Phoenix Electric Co. The Carolina Power and Light Company established the community of Waterville at the mountain's northern base, near the confluence of Big Creek and the Pigeon River. Waterville provided the labor force needed to operate the company's Walters Plant, which housed the powerhouse for the Waterville Lake reservoir further upstream.
The dam is now owned and operated by Duke Energy as an active hydroelectric facility, with a rated capacity of 112 MW. It was designated as a North Carolina Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1980.