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Marveling at man-made wonders

My family spent the past week out of town – actually, way out of town. From May 23-29 we took our first family vacation – my husband and I, my brother and his wife and my parents – out west to see one of the biggest attractions in America: the Grand Canyon.

Between catching up from vacation and the Memorial Day holiday, I was having some trouble thinking up a good column topic this week. I won’t lie to you; they don’t always come easy.

My husband tried to help. “Write about the Grand Canyon,” he offered, in a tone of voice that could have easily included the word “duh.” I made a face. He shook his head and proposed more suggestions. “Write about the plane flight. Write about the Pink Jeep tour. Write about floating down the Colorado River. Write about touring the Hoover Dam.”

“It sort of needs to have something to do with Franklin County,” I argued.

“Franklin County has a dam.”

So it does. So it does. Four of them, as a matter of fact.

The Hoover Dam was one of our last stops before flying home, filling a good portion of our afternoon Tuesday. It was really a sight to see. There are two tour options for the Hoover Dam, and we opted for the shorter power plant tour – which was nonetheless enlightening and informative.

I remember learning about the Hoover Dam when we studied the Great Depression, but as with anything, there’s a difference in reading about something in a textbook or seeing pictures of it online and actually being there. It’s hard to imagine the vastness, to contextualize the hours of work by so many to make such an unparalleled construction project possible. At 726 feet high, 650 feet thick at the bottom and 45 feet thick at the top, it is, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed, a 20th century marvel.

Of course, Franklin County’s dams are just a little smaller in comparison – but are, in their own way, no less impressive. I went to www.tva.gov to get all the details.

Cedar Creek Dam, for example, was completed in 1979. It’s 96 feet high and 3,160 feet long, and the reservoir it creates extends nine miles upstream from the dam – and boasts a flood-storage capacity of 80,000 acre-feet. Cedar Creek is Franklin County’s largest dam.

There’s also Bear Creek Dam, completed 10 years earlier. It’s 68 feet high and 1,385 feet long, and the reservoir extends 12 miles and has a flood-storage capacity of 37,800 acre-feet.

There’s also Little Bear Creek and Upper Bear Creek, both completed in the 1970s.

All four of these dams combine to provide flood damage reduction, as well as – on a brighter note – all kind of recreational opportunities. With summer here, I’m hoping to take an opportunity soon to get out to the Bear Creek lakes for some picnicking and paddling.

Our four little dams might not rival the Hoover Dam – but they are ours. They serve their purpose and, just like the Hoover Dam, are “truly a marvel of engineering and the human spirit.”

A worthy column topic any day.

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