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SoVaNow.com / November 07, 2012Dear Viewpoint:
Susan Kyte and Tom McLaughlin are to be congratulated on the superior researching and reporting job they did for the Kerr/Buggs Island Lake and dam article (Sun, Oct. 24 edition).
At 2700-plus words, this undertaking truly is a bit more than the designation “article” suggests. In using that term, I in no way mean to understate the piece’s significance. The story was neatly placed in perspective through recollections of where we were as a nation when the impoundment and dam were proposed and, eventually, put into place.
No one could have imagined how much change — most of it “progress” — would occur even as the dam was erected, not to mention in the years immediately thereafter. While many were still awaiting the “chicken in every pot” promised during the 1928 election campaign (but not, as many believe, by Candidate Herbert Hoover himself), the “car in every garage” piece of the same slogan was even further from the reality of most Americans in the mid 1940s. As Kyte and McLaughlin’s article points out, so was in-home electricity for many Southside Virginians.
While every potential reader’s odd question couldn’t be answered within the article, one I wish had been tackled as a sidebar is, how is such a massive project planned and engineered? I’m sure much was learned from the construction of the far more massive Hoover Dam, begun a decade earlier. It consumed, at 3,500,000 cubic yards, five times the amount of concrete comprising “our” dam. It also cost the lives of more than 100 workers — many, many times the several lives lost near today’s Bugg Island. (Those and an impressive number of other facts about construction of the Hoover dam can be found under ‘Hoover Dam’ in Wikipedia.)
I would love to see McLaughlin and Kyte’s article reproduced — ideally with even more photos than the newspapers could use — in a form suitable for distribution to school and public libraries throughout the area served by the dam, through Virginia and North Carolina, at tourism sites around Southside, and, possibly, even as a salable item.
While “our” dam will never have the drawing power of Hoover Dam, it’s certainly something many would, I’m sure, like to take a look at — if they knew where it is. That’s the only fault I have with the article: The exact location of the dam isn’t revealed. I found it via Mapquest, and got a good idea of how massive the dam itself is from Google Maps.
It’s impressively large. Its impact on the economy of the entire area it serves has been, and will long continue to be, even more impressive.
Thank you for providing your insight.