Tuesday, June 20, 2017

1931 422.5mw Safe Harbor Hydro Plant on Susquehanna River and Railroad Bridges

(Satellite (26 photos), 3D Satellite)

Jack Stoner posted
On a humid and steamy June day in 1986 Conrail train MTPI - Metutchen, NJ - Pittsburgh,PA crosses the iconic PRR Low Grade trestle, (local parlance) at Safe Harbor, PA. The actual Conrail nomenclature for this line was the Enola Branch. Taken out of service in favor of the Reading RR route to northern NJ and NY and Phila. this well engineered line was downgraded, then abandoned in 1989 and finally the last iron was removed in 1990 - 91.
Birds-Eye View

In 1930 construction would commence to build the northern most of three Depression Era hydroelectric dams along the Susquehanna River at Safe Harbor. Erected just above the confluence of the Conestoga River the first turbine went online in December of 1931 and by 1940 a total of seven were in operation. Two of these turbines were dedicated to generating the 25 Hz single-phase power required to feed the Pennsylvania Railroad’s newly electrified railroad. By 1938, the final phases of the electrification were complete and included the A&S, Port Road, Columbia branch and mainline west to Harrisburg. With the eastern mainline and freight network complete, power from Safe Harbor began supplying the PRR grid, with tethers of high voltage transmission lines mounted above the tracks, feeding various substations along the PRR’s electrified territory. The railroad understood the value of the Public Works project and the advantage of a renewable energy source. Today Safe Harbor operates 12 turbine generator units and continues to supply the Northeast passenger rail network today. [MichaelFroio]
Owen Hesslage posted
Safe Harbor Hydroelectric

Uncharted Lancaster posted three photos with the comment: "On Saturday, October 1, Safe Harbor Dam is hosting a "Fish & Fun" event, which includes free tours inside the 91-year-old megastructure from 9 am to noon. Local historians Don Kautz and Ben Webber will be on hand all morning talking Conestoga River history. Indian Steps Museum, Susquehanna National Heritage Area, Blue Rock Heritage Center, Lancaster Conservancy, Conestoga River Club, The Conestoga Volunteer Fire Company, Blue Rock Fire Company, and Uncharted Lancaster will all be on site with educational booths. Other activities include a fishing derby and local food vendors. Read more at: https://unchartedlancaster.com/.../october-1-safe-harbor.../"
Tom Bates shared
1931 422.5mw
"At 464 miles long, the Susquehanna is the longest river on the East Coast of the United States that empties into the Atlantic Ocean traveling from Cooperstown, New York, to Havre De Grace, Maryland. It drains more than 27,000 square miles (including roughly half of the state of Pennsylvania) and is the single largest source of fresh water flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. Unfortunately, the broad, shallow waters make the Susquehanna the longest, non-commercially navigable river in the country. But the 1,180-foot elevation change between its headwaters in Cooperstown and the Chesapeake Bay makes it ideal for hydroelectricity."


A couple of years ago I remember reading an Abandoned Railroads posting about a route that had the tracks removed but the route was still intact because it carried power lines to help supply Amtrak's Northeast Corridor service. I now understand what that posting was talking about.

safe_image for Historic ex-PRR high trestle at Safe Harbor opens to public (Photo by Dan Cupper)
"$9 million project connects two segments of Enola Low Grade Trail....Officials estimate that use of the trail will jump from 70,000 persons a year to 100,000 as a result of the Safe Harbor bridge opening, and even more when the nearby Martic Forge bridge, damaged by arson in 2018, is restored later this summer. Ultimately, the Enola Low Grade Trail is expected to connect with others to create an 80-mile corridor stretching from Philadelphia to Columbia, Pa., says Mike Domin, a planner with the Lancaster County Planning Commission."
For decades, local communities fought the rail trail. But times have finally changed.
The trestle is 150' high and a quarter-mile long. It is part of the Enola Low Grade Trail.
Two turbines of the hydroelectric dam are dedicated to generating current for Amtrak's Keystone and Northeast corridors.
The lower bridge carries NS's Port Road Branch.
The end of the article has some construction history concerning this branch. It was riniwh3ecin 1906 along with the Enola Yard and electrified in 1938. The purpose was to get freight trains off Pennsy's mainline. The last train used this branch in 1988.
Metrotrails posted
A view of the Safe Harbor Dam, completed in 1931, across the Susquehanna River.
The dam impounds the Conejohela Valley to create   Lake Clarke.
Seen from the Mason-Dixon Trail in Apollo Park, York County Pa


Update: comments in a Pennsylvania group provides more information on the electricity that Pennsy used.

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