Monday, May 10, 2010

Road Trip. Still Day 6. Next Stop - Philpott Dam.

After a delicious breakfast, Mr. Hawthorne took me to some of his old haunts. If you haven't figgered it out yet, Mr. Hawthorne was brought up in these parts.
This is Philpott Lake, one of the largest lakes in Virginia. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Philpott Lake is a reservoir near Bassett, Virginia, 15 miles long, with a 110-mile shoreline, and 3000 acres of water.
Philpott Lake is impounded by Philpott Dam on the Smith River in Henry County. Before the 1950's, Smith River was a typical southern warm-water river originating from the high terrain of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Demand for electricity and flood control in the area prompted the Army Corps of Engineers to create a dam in order to facilitate such needs.
Construction on the Philpott Dam started in 1948 and was completed in 1952 at a cost of over 13 million dollars. The construction of the dam and subsequent formation of the lake drastically changed the nature of the Smith River. Large, stationary bodies of water such as Philpott Lake undergo seasonal changes of temperature called turnovers. During the summer months, the upper layer of water becomes very warm, while the deepest water stays very cold. To produce electricity, water is moved from the reservoir through the dam to the river below. During generation, water released from the dam to the Smith River below is a chilly 46-49 degrees, even in the summertime.
Philpott Lake and Dam were created to control flooding along the Smith River, to generate hydroelectric power, to provide recreational activities and to offer environmental stewardship.
Mr. Hawthorne and his buddies used to swim in that lake. I'm sure that nearly killed his mother.
The Philpott Dam Powerhouse was completed and started generating electricity in 1953.
Philpott Dam is a concrete, gravity dam. Water passes through the dam by one of four means: Most of the water goes through the power units to generate electricity. Extremely large discharges are passed over the spillway. Excess water of small floods is discharged through sluice gates located near the bottom of the dam. When the powerhouse is not in operation, water is passed through conduits located in the spillway section of the dam for minimum river flow requirements. A stilling basin at the foot of the spillway section dissipates the destructive energy of the water and prevents erosion of the foundation. The training walls at each end of the spillway direct the flow of water into the river channel below the damn.
Because of the chilly temperature of water released into the Smith River, cool water species of fish, such as trout, inhabit the Smith.
The top elevation of the dam is 1016 feet and has a length of 920 feet. Maximum discharge is 70,000 cubic feet per second.
I haven't seen the first trout.
After Philpott Lake, Mr. Hawthorne and I needed to kill some time before meeting his mother, Stonehenge, and his sisters and their husbands for lunch.
So I got to shoot some purple martin condos.
Stay tuned for more of our Road Trip Day 6, where we go hunting for Fairy Stones.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

BS & I went to Fairystone some years ago & found a few rough ones. It is very nice there.