25 August 2008

Stay out of the water

Ok, this is Oconee State Park, where we camped, up in the very northwestern corner of South Carolina. It was established in the 1930s as one of the first state parks in SC. The land was converted by the CCC to provide jobs during the depression as well as finding new use for the overfarmed land. Seen here is the lake, with swimming area and boat rentals. However, the swimming area was closed due to low water levels, which meant the water was becoming stagnant and posed health risks.
This is one of the most interesting features of the park, the lake spillway. Normally there is always water flowing over the top of the spillway, but as you can see, the low levels have left it high and dry. Also note how stagnant the water in this area has become.

These stairs follow the spillways path down a short ways to let you see its construction.
Probably rather impressive when water is actually flowing.
During the construction and early operation of the park, many tasks were accomplished by use of waterwheels. The original was actually a ways off in the forest on a natural flowing stream. This one (with the wheel from the original) was built later below the lake, allowing lakewater to fall and power it. This turned wheels and shafts inside the adjacent building that could be used for various jobs. When electricity was brought to the park in 1941 the waterwheel became obsolete. Another tool used early in the park was the hydraulic ram pump, which worked by suddenly stopping falling water and forcing it up a vertical pipe. A one way valve in the pipe would open and shut allowing water to go up the pipe but not down, doing this process up to sixty times a minute. The design of this pump allowed it to send water to a much higher elevation.
Some of the inner workings of the wheel house.
The CCC man

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