February 2009

AEP's Smith Mountain Pumped Storage Project utilizes two dams - Smith Mountain and Leesville. To generate electricity, water from the upper reservoir runs through generators at SMD and flows into Leesville Lake. AEP then reverses the generators and pumps water from Leesville Lake back into SML.

The Welcome Center has some brochures as well as interesting displays, pictures and videos of the construction of the dam. It also has a description of it's operation in conjunction with the Leesville Dam, both of which were responsible for creating Smith Mountain Lake. There's John in front.

To the left of the Center building a steep hill runs down to a field of transformers powered by the dam. The plant has the capability to generate 605 megawatts of electricity for up to 11 hours. It is optimally used for short periods of time to meet peak energy needs or as a reserve generator on the AEP System.

To the right of the Welcome Center is the zig-zag walkway up the side of the mountain to the overlook and park above.

John taking pictures on the overlook platform.

Both dams (Smith Mountain and Leesville) were completed in 1963 and the lakes began to fill. It wasn't until March of 1966 that Smith Mountain Lake reached its normal water level!

Looking down the water towards the lake. I've seen the dam from the water on a sea-doo up to that rope across the water you see here (enlarge pic if necessary).

Water stored in SML reservoir is released through the round turbine generators (seen below top of wall) in the dam powerhouse to produce electricity. Once it propels the turbines, the water is held downstream in Leesville Lake by a second dam.

From the overlook viewing the back of the dam, you walk through a beautiful forest of pine trees on a path leading to the other side of the dam.

This is a view of the front side of the dam.

Since I forgot to take videos of the front of the dam, we went back up there 5 days later and this time the wind was like a hurricane! The lake was choppy with whitecaps and water was being pushed through the spillway openings on each end of the dam!

You can see water flowing down the big "slide". Enlarge pic and notice how small the CARS in the parking lot in left corner look. Gives you an idea how huge the dam is!

The sounds of the falling water were like a huge waterfall! It was really neat to see this though we almost got blown away trying to do so! :)

Additional view of the front side of dam but this time with whitecaps and water flowing over the spillway behind.

This 500 ton head tower is all that remains of the construction cableway that was used for building the dam. Lifting capacity of the cableway was 20 tons. Most of the materials used to build the dam were handled by this arrangement.

John and me sitting on one of the benches on the park grounds of the dam.

John coming back down the walkway.

It was 64 degrees out the first day we were up there yet the heavily shaded mountain still had ice formations on it! Winter/Spring Combo for sure. It was melting and you could hear the water running down from above my head.

We passed this little old country store all closed up. It was so different, especially the pilings supporting the front overhang! That's a line for a gas pump to the left of me.

Another unusual thing about this little store was their use of rocks in the caulking between the logs! Never saw that done in the old log buildings we've seen. The whole place was done this way.

The Halifax Roller Mill
Going through Halifax, I saw this big old building and wanted to check it out. This roller mill, formerly known as Banister Mills, operated from 1915 to 1996 processing grains and distributing flour and other products to the region.

The big double doors were open and we were able to stand on the dock and look into the building where we viewed these fantastic old machine, the bins and funnels.

Robert Hupp is credited with constructing the mill for R. Holt Easley around 1915. In 1936, Carl Payne bought the mill and it is his name that is still visible on building.

The mill, which did not begin operations until just prior to World War I, consisted of five-stand roller mills with each stand holding four steel grinders, according to the architectural history. Out of 300 pounds of wheat, the farmer got a 196 pound barrel of flour and 50 pounds of feed. The mill got 54 pounds as a toll.

In its heyday (the 1950s and 1960s) trucks with wheat would line up all the way to Halifax to Cleve Wilborn’s station.
The Paynes continued to operate the mill until the mid-to-late 1960s.

Notice the slots cut into the floor on right side of machine. The belts that operated the machine went through these slots - as you can see on the left side of machine where a belt still remains.

The Abbotts purchased the property from the Reese family. The Reeses sold fresh vegetables at the site prior to expanding their operation to other sites.

Large silos still stand on the property.

The Halifax Roller Mill is being “stabilized” by new owners Bill and Darnell Abbott. But they are not restoring it to it's former use. They are open to suggestions as to how it might best be used to serve the community.

I am glad we saw the interior as it originally was because everything will be removed eventually.

In Altavista
The old depot in Altavista has been restored and is a beautiful building. Inside is the Visitor's Center-Chamber of Commerce and a community room. Altavista is about 16 miles south of Lynchburg for those of you in Virginia!

The decorative snow guards on the metal roof were so pretty.

The Virginian 344 Caboose - restored and on display.

The Altavista Library - an eye catching building in a little town of old buildings!

The bay window in front had 6 of these matching stained glass pieces hanging in them which was very pretty from both the outside and the inside.

A warm and inviting library. We bought some of the magazines and books they were clearing out which all libraries have for sale.

Standing on the Library porch looking down towards main street.

On Rt. 220 about an hour south of us
Heading back home on 220 heading North, I spotted this building - or rather, it's remains! It's huge....from one edge of this picture to the other - that's the whole width. It's heavily covered with growth.

This huge stone house stands completely fenced in. A road passes behind it and 220 runs in front. Unfortunately, no signs were posted as to what this once was - besides a grand old stone house! Some of the covering vines are evergreens!

The roof was completely gone as was the floors. In fact, all wood was gone and only the stone foundations remained. It was beautiful! Notice how heavily coated with vines it is though. It's probably well hidden in the summer when the vines have leaves!

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