Established in 1905, the Town of Cornelius began as a mill and farm community. Historians have traced the Town's origin to a dispute over cotton weighing which resulted in the construction of a cotton mill by investor Joseph Benjamin Cornelius in the late 1800s. Over time, the cotton mills closed. And, in 1963, Duke Power created Lake Norman and provided the area with recreational opportunities and hydroelectric power. The formation of Lake Norman also provided the area with beautiful lakeside property. With the closing of the cotton mills, the damming of the Catawba River, and the development of highway I-77, the town has experienced significant growth. Today, Cornelius is about 15 square miles; it has a population of about 23,000. There is a quaint downtown with brick walkways and old style street lamps. Cornelius is now a beautiful lakeside retreat for thousands of North Carolinians.