Originally created 09/14/03

Artifacts will show dam's past

Did you help build Thurmond Dam?

The Army Corps of Engineers wants to locate veterans of the construction project, which was completed in spring 1954. A 50th anniversary anniversary observance is planned for April.

"For starters, we hope to put together a display of items sent in - photos - any kind of memorabilia," said Corps Ranger Jill Davis, organizer of the series of celebrations.

Thurmond Lake - called Clarks Hill until its unpopular 1987 renaming - was a project of mammoth proportions. And it raised eyebrows when it was authorized by Congress in 1944.

Spanning 40 miles along the Savannah River and 22 miles up Little River, the reservoir was to house turbines to generate hydroelectric power, which ultimately would repay the government's construction costs.

The dam was to be a mile long and 200 feet high, impounding 72,000 acres of water. It could store all the rainfall nature could muster and gradually release it downstream, producing electricity and avoiding floods.

Construction began Aug. 1, 1946, with a contract for a railroad to bring materials to the site. As years passed and the dam took shape, the project grew to involve more than 2,000 workers from across the nation.

Ms. Davis hopes to hear from as many of those workers as possible before next year's celebration, during which many of them will be honored as pioneers whose efforts changed the region forever.

"We're already getting some interesting stories and items," Ms. Davis said. "We have one fellow who saved all his pay stubs, and somebody else has a pile of old pictures. So things are trickling in."

Thefestivities are tentatively scheduled to begin April 14.

The planned events include a 50-mile bike ride, five-mile run, sailboat regatta and fishing tournament, among other things.

"If you know anybody who worked on the dam or who has any stuff from the very early years, we'd like to hear from them," she said.


People with items to lend for the exhibit to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the construction of Thurmond Dam can call Army Corps of Engineers Ranger Jill Davis at (800) 533-3478, ext. 1172.

Reach Robert Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.


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