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Barkley Lock & Dam 50th Anniversary, Commemorates Project and Family Sarcrifice

Nicole Erwin, WKMS

The resounding message at the 50th anniversary of the Barkley Lock and Dam project in Grand Rivers Saturday, was that with great success often comes great sacrifice.


The Badgett Theatre was packed as the rain brought the outside event indoors. The cool air and lights in by the venue reminded everyone that much of their comfort was provided by the power generated by the celebrated Barkley Lock and Dam. The project, authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938 and the River and Harbor Act of 1946,  now powers an estimated 112,000 homes annually.


Kentucky Supreme Court Justice Bill Cunningham said the celebrated structure did not however come without a tremendous toll on human lives and emotions.

"We would be ungrateful people here today as we celebrate, and we should be celebrating, not to also commemorate and remember those citizens of Kentucky and Tennessee who made the sacrifice of their homes and their communities for the benefit of those enjoy the blessings of this dam and this lake," said Cunningham.


Lt. Colonel Stephen Murphy of the Nashville District Army Corps of Engineers quoted 38th Vice President Herbert Humphrey’s dedication remarks that first celebrated the dam half a century ago.


“One of the things he said in his speech was, river development is more than economics, more than flood control, more than recreation, it is hope,” reminded Murphy.

The Corps is now in the beginning phase of funding a complete refurbishment of the four hydro generators employed at the plant. Murphey said the plant only utilizes hydro production during peak hours at present, the majority of the nation's power still comes from coal and nuclear.



Credit Nicole Erwin, WKMS
Barkley Lock and Dam


The dam was also noted for allowing safe passage to more than 1,600 government, commercial and recreational vessels each year, carrying 3.9 million tons of cargo.

Since the dam became fully operational in 1964 it has prevented an estimated $319 million dollars in flood damages.


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