Visitors to the 50th anniversary celebration at Thurmond Dam were given a tour of the of the structure.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
CLARKS HILL, S.C. - Thurmond Lake turns 50 this year, and tourism officials from the seven counties along its shoreline hope to join the Army Corps of Engineers with a series of birthday celebrations.
On Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers unveiled a yearlong agenda designed to honor and commemorate the 70,000-acre reservoir authorized by Congress in 1944 and completed a decade later.
"We regard 1954 - the date the last turbine went into operation - as the official completion date," said Corps ranger Jill Davis, who is coordinating a series of anniversary events and exhibits.
Ken Dial, operations manager at Thurmond Lake, told visitors the reservoir has diligently served Augusta as a barrier to the floods that once ravaged the city 22 miles down the Savannah River.
The project, with its mile-long, 200-foot-tall dam, also has become a primary source of recreation and economic development to Columbia and other counties along it shorelines, he said.
Many of the festivities will be held April 14-18, including a 5K run, sailboat regatta, 50-mile bicycle ride, fishing tournaments, band performances and special exhibits and tours of the powerhouse, dam and visitors center.
Park rangers often patrol Thurmond Lake by boat.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Tourism officials in the seven counties that border the 70,000-acre lake also hope to capitalize on the project's popularity.
The Augusta Canal Authority, for example, which offers hydropower exhibits at its interpretive center at Enterprise Mill in Augusta, plans to take school groups on field trips to see Thurmond Dam's hydropower program.
"It would let kids see how Augusta used hydropower back in the old days, then come up here and see how it works in modern times," said Rebecca Rogers, the canal authority's marketing director.
Wednesday's anniversary celebration kickoff was held at the project's visitors center. For detailed information on anniversary activities, go to www.sas.usace.army.mil/50 or call 1-800-533-3478.
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