Originally created 11/05/04

Corps again allows look inside powerhouse



The public will be offered another glimpse inside Thurmond Dam's sprawling powerhouse Saturday during one of the Army Corps of Engineers' last series of organized tours of the restricted site.

The tours, which are free, will be offered on a first-come, first-served basis from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, and the tours will be repeated again Dec. 3, Corps Park Ranger David Quebedeaux said.

"It will be a rare opportunity to see the inside of the dam," he said. "But after these tours, that's it, probably, for a couple of years or more. There will be a lot of construction ongoing up here for a while."

The mile-long dam was completed 50 years ago. It has seven massive hydropower turbines that create electricity via the flow of water from the reservoir into the Savannah River below. The site is in the midst of a $70 million rehabilitation that includes replacing those turbines.

Once completed, each new unit will generate enough electricity to support 26,500 households - a 31 percent increase in power production over the aging units being replaced, he said.

The last tours were offered in April, during the corps' 50th anniversary festivities for the project.

"They were popular, and from the time we started until the end of the day there were no slack periods," he said. "With all that interest, we wanted to try to offer a few more tours."

Visitors must be accustomed to walking and climbing stairs, and they will undergo a security screening at the entrance comparable to procedures used at airports.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

Powerhouse Tours

When: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Dec. 3

Where: Enter below the South Carolina side of the dam Bring: A sweater or jacket and comfortable shoes

Security: Visitors are screened with metal detectors

Tour area: Turbine room, control center and other areas for More information: Call (800) 533-3478