Cornelius is located in Mecklenburg County
along Highway 115 near Davidson
, Lake Norman, and Cowans Ford Dam.
In 1963 Duke Power dammed the Catawba River to create Lake Norman, it changed the cotton industry in the area for the town's development and growth. The development of Lake Norman provided the area with recreational opportunities and a source of hydroelectric power. The formation of the lake also provided the area with choice lakeside property.
Cornelius is part of the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill metro area.