The World's Greatest Earthen Dam
World's Greatest Earthen Dam Achieved
When dam construction had advanced to a certain stage on August 31, 1929, the intake tower gates were closed and the lake started filling. It is a saying among engineers that the building of a dam on a river will usually bring a flood. True to this saying, the greatest flood of record occurred on the Saluda River between September 26th and October 2, 1929. Several days of heavy downpour from two tropical storms, one following the other, brought waters rushing into the young lake. In order to prevent the water from rising too high on the partially completed dam, the penstocks and giant diversion tunnel gates were opened. The opening of these gates caused some damage to the unfinished power house.

Four months of progress are captured from the same vantage point in 1930.

Lake Murray was filled to an elevation of 290 feet, and held at this point until April 1930, when the final storage of water began.

Charleston and Columbia newspapers reported the progress of the project "Mammoth Hydro-electric Development To Rise on Saluda River"..."The Dam Will Be Higher Than Any Skyscraper On Main Street In Columbia"..."The Dam Will Be Nothing Less Than A Mountain Rolled Into Place"..."Epitome of Hugeness"..."The World's Greatest Earth Dam Is Achieved."

At 7:00 a.m. on December 1, 1930, the first electric power - 10,000 kilowatts - was delivered to Duke Power Company (Lexington Water Power company was solely a production company and did not own any transmission lines). Lake Murray was celebrated as the world's largest power reservoir and Saluda dam the largest earthen dam for power purposes.

Workers at a switching station on May 27, 1930. The first electric power was delivered at 7:00 a.m. on December 1, 1930.

In 1931 the lake level was raised from 340 to 350 feet MSL, and two years later to 360 feet. The United States National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Survey Administration and the U.S. Army Corps, using historic rainfall events, recently developed a method for determining a new probable maximum precipitation applicable to the Saluda Project drainage basin. The probable maximum flood which could result from this precipitation required recent modification to the Saluda Dam. In 1988-1989, SCE&G constructed a sheet pile wall to raise the effective height of the dam to 377 feet MSL as an added safety factor.
lake murray history
the land before the lake
clearing the way
the construction era
the world's greatest earthen dam
opportunity for power
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