[The dam is 81' high and 3,767' long. It has a 600' x 110' lock and the foundation for an 800' lock. The four generating units have a summer net dependable capacity of 107 MW.]
The Hales Bar Dam as built. Tainter gates were added during 1947-48 [mst, p32,37] and an extension was added to the powerhouse. Note the steamboat headed into the lock.
This reference also has a lot of construction photos.
|tagcaver and Jenni Fankenberg Veal, Oct 2020|
[The coal fired power plant in the background was built in 1922-24. [mst, p22]]
When you do a Google search for "Hales Dam," you get a lot of hits about it being haunted. I don't care about ghosts, but I do care that it "was the nation’s first hydroelectric dam." I thought that the Keokuk Dam on the Mississippi was the first. This dam must of just beat Keokuk because this one was done in Nov, 1913 and the Keokuk Dam also finished in 1913. Keokuk makes a lot of claims such as being large and being the first to use high-voltage transmission to its market (St. Louis), but it doesn't claim to be the first. The market for the electricity from this dam was Chattanooga. The limestone and shale bedrock under the Hales Bar Dam started leaking soon after it was completed. In addition to hydroelectricity, the dam was built to tame one of the major impediments to year round navigation, specifically, the Tennessee River Gorge. Until the gorge was drowned by this dam, there were significant whirlpools. Some were so big and permanent that they had names. [Tata & Howard, tagcaver] "It was 113 feet high, 2,315 feet long and its spillway had a combined discharge capacity of 224,000 cubic feet per second. At that time it was one of the first major multipurpose dams and one of the first major dams to be built across a navigable channel in the United States. The dam was estimated to cost only $2 million but by the end it was nearly $10 million, which equals $237 million in today’s value." [tagcaver] The cost overrun was caused by the bad foundation provided by the limestone bedrock.
"41 ft lift lock on the right (west) bank of Hales Bar Dam was the first built across a navigable river in the USA, as well as being the highest when it opened in 1913. Just 265 ft long, it soon became the shortest lock on the Tennessee River."
"The project required congressional approval because it was the first time a private power company constructed a major dam across a navigable channel in the United States! Soon after completion wooden flashboards were tacked into the crest to increase the operating pool from 636 to 639 ft, shown here in the 1920s."
|tagcarver and mst, p45|
[The 1000' wide spillway was dynamited during 1967-68 to remove it as a navigation hazard. Note that the lower pool has filled to the same height as the upper pool. The steam generating power plant had already been removed in 1965.]
|Tata & Howard|
"The Hales Bar Dam old hydroelectric plant is now used as a dry dock"
|Jenni Frankenberg Veal, Oct 2020|
[Boats are stored dry on the old turbine level. [tagcaver]]
In fact, the boats are stored in racks.
"Construction began on Nickajack in 1964 with initial power operations occurring in February 1968. TVA built the two navigation locks first, thereby assuring a steady flow of barge traffic. All salvageable parts—such as gate locks, spillway gates, and generators—were moved from Hales Bar and repurposed."
[This is not the only source that claims that two locks were built. If so, why do we now have just a foundation for an 800' lock? Especially since 800' won't improve the handling of the standard 15-barge tow.]