Construction of Pickwick Landing Dam began in 1934 and was completed in 1938.
The dam is 113 feet high and stretches nearly a mile and a half across the Tennessee River.
Pickwick Dam is a hydroelectric facility. It has six generating units with a summer net dependable capacity of 247 megawatts. Net dependable capacity is the amount of power a dam can produce on an average day, minus the electricity used by the dam itself.
To maintain the water depth required for navigation, the minimum winter elevation for the reservoir is 408 feet. The typical summer operating range is between 413 and 414 feet.
The dam has two locks: One measures 110-by-600 feet and the other 110-by-1,000 feet.
Pickwick Landing Dam’s first turbine was the largest of its kind in the country when it was installed; its runner was more than 24 feet in diameter. New runners with a more efficient design were installed in the 1980s.
Pickwick Lock posted [The text is not of general interest, but the photo is.]
When we arrived at this dam, the road down to the boat ramp on the north side was closed. I assume it was because it was under water. We could go only to the upstream side. They did have a turbine display on that side.
An overview of the upstream side, which of course is boring.
These people are fishing by the powerhouse when there was very little flow through the dam.
The above flows are over 2,000,000 gps. Because that road was closed, I couldn't even get a glimpse of the downstream side. So I'm going to have to rely on others. Fortunately, other people are also intrigued by spillways in action.
Last year it was almost 400,000 cfs and all of the roads down by the river were under water. The campsite was also under water.
Looking at the lock walls, there is not much drop between the upper and lower pools.
Pickwick Lock posted Looking up toward the Spillway area from the river below. 📸 Colby Hutton Patrick Moore: Family day
(new window) This year's flood. This was taken four days before we were there. And it had been raining during at least some of those days.
While checking out the YouTube videos, I found an explanation of the construction activity that we saw when we took the road across the dam.
(new window) They are still fixing the campgrounds from last years flood.
Pickwick Lock shared some TVA photos with the comment: "National Hydropower Day is coming up on August 24  and we are no strangers to hydropower! Through our 29 power-producing dams, we have been providing clean, renewable, and low-cost energy since 1936. #TBT
TVA posted four photos with the comment: "Pickwick Landing Dam is one of nine Tennessee River dams providing a 652-mile navigable waterway from Paducah, KY, to Knoxville. Construction started in 1934 and began generating electricity on June 29, 1938. 84 years later, Pickwick Landing continues to generate clean, reliable, low-cost energy!"
Pickwick Lock posted M/V Randy Bagents waiting lock turn. This view is from the wheel house of the towboat, below the lower gates, looking upbound. Courtesy Scott Windham, M/V Randy Baygents Crew and Company
Pickwick Lock posted two photos with the comment: "Here are a couple photos from one of our pleasure craft passing through Pickwick Lock, upbound. Thanks for the photos. 📸 Paul Uhl"
Paul Uhl: I’m always amazed by the size of these gates and the engineering behind it - a 52’ drop - see ya in the spring, thanks guys!!!
The industrial buildings in the background would be the PCA paper mill. I'm glad to see emissions coming out of the smokestacks because I assume that means it is operating. On our trip across northern Alabama we passed a huge paper mill that was closed and had its sign covered over.
Some photos my wife took as we drove across the dam from the south side to the north side. I asked her to take quite a few because it was obvious that they were doing some sort of construction.
You can tilt your head easier than I can rotate the photos. :-) She was leaning over and shooting these shots through the front windshield since the locks were on the downstream side as we headed North.
We then drove south across the dam because, with my wife closer to the downstream side, I was hoping she could get better shots of the power plant and spillway water turbulence. It looks like at least some of the turbines were running. The camera did a good job of not focusing on the chain-link fence.
The road down to the river on the downstream river bank was closed on the south side as well. There was water along side AL-128 between the dam and the interchange with AL-57 where I turned around and headed north again.
And then we got more photos of the construction equipment as we headed north again across the dam.
Note the two workers on top of the left barge.
Screenshot The M/V Debbie Graham arriving on the lower long wall this afternoon with 10 barges. Pickwick was discharging 204,000 cubic feet of water per second from the spillways. Video: R. Boyd
This has a good demonstration of a hydraulic jump. (The "hump" of water where the fast-flowing water meets the slower-flowing water.)
Screenshot @ 0:11 This is what 204,000 cubic feet of water per second looks like on the downstream side of Pickwick Dam. STAY AWAY!!!!! Video: R. Boyd
Pickwick Lock posted four photos with the comment: "The M/V Magnolia visited us this morning and was carrying more infrastructure components down the Tennessee River and then up the Ohio River to Brandenburg, KY. Brandenburg is at Mile 646 on the Ohio River."
4 Pickwick Lock: These tows come through Pickwick quite often. This one started its journey in Louisiana, traveled up from the Gulf Coast from Mobile, AL, eventually reaching the Tenn/Tom waterway and then to the Tennessee River and Pickwick. [I wonder why they use the Tenn-Tom Waterway instead of the Mississippi River.]
It is serendipity that Jeff shared the above post when he did because it let me catch a photo of a high flow through the spillway.
Pickwick Lock posted a TVA photo on Mar 19, 2021 We continue to manage large volumes of water from this week's heavy rainfall. Nearly 6.5 inches has fallen this week in northern Alabama, resulting in high river conditions. The River Forecast Center is working around the clock, and crews at the dams are making adjustments to reduce high water impacts downstream. Seven of the nine dams on the Tennessee River are spilling large volumes of water including, Chickamauga, Nickajack, Guntersville, Wheeler, Wilson, Pickwick, and Kentucky. Tributary lake levels will continue to rise as we store water. Beware of turbulent, fast-moving water and stay away from the spillways, powerhouse discharges, and the top of the dams. Real-time lake and river info: http://tva.me/7Ixx50E3B3e Pickwick Dam spilling 1.3 million gallons per second. [1.3m gps = 174k cfs]
And the flows were higher than this 174k cfs the next day. If the flows are high, why are the generators running at zero instead of full capacity? It seems that they are throwing money down the river.
Pickwick Lock posted It's a wet, cloudy day at Pickwick today, but the traffic is still moving. M/V St. Paul is in the chamber and the M/V St. Matthew on the upper wall waiting turn. Both are Marquette boats headed downbound. Vanessa Byer: How long does this usually take for the lock thru? Pickwick Lock: It varies by boat, A single locking for a pleasure craft is about 4o-45 minutes. Towboats are longer according to how many barges they have, along with other factors.
Pickwick Lock posted three photos with the comment: "M/V Harley Hall with a double lockage, headed out of the lock downbound, M/V Bobby Thompson in the chamber performing a knockout single lockage, headed upbound, and the Miss Kathy waiting turn on the 209 cells with a single lockage, headed downbound."
One of six photos posted by Pickwick Lock M/V Francis R Keegan David Gulden shared
Pickwick Lock posted [This dam has the same type of sluice gates that the Kentucky Dam has. The March 19, 2021 photo above shows that sometimes they raise the upper half. The video above looks like they have raised the lower half.]
Pickwick Lock posted two photos with the comment: "The M/V Steve Richoux putting his 1,000 ft tow in the main lock, then turning a 180 degree turn inside the upper approach before heading over to the auxiliary lock to lock the light boat down and go get the barges after they are locked down at the main lock."
M/V American Countess locking upbound in the aux lock during June 2021. Many photos in posts: 1, 2, 3 and4. This photo is from post 2. [It looks like the paddlewheel is not just decoration because there is a gear box attached to it. But they have other stuff (Z-drive?) because there is a propwash on the port side. Post 2 also shows that the two smokestacks were folded down and evidently only crew was allowed on the top deck.]
Pickwick Lock shared a TVA post of three photos and the comment:
River Update: Pickwick Lake level is over 2.5 feet above normal for this time of year and is forecasted to rise another foot, up to 417.5', as we store water to control Tennessee River levels downstream in the Savannah, TN, area. We will gradually lower the lake level over the next several days.
Pickwick Lock posted two photos with the comment: "TVA has opened some spillways this afternoon [Feb 19, 2022]."
Rick McNeil: What does that mean?,how many gates and how much are they open?,and what will it do to crump in terms of flood stage?
Pickwick Lock: As you can see in the photos, there are 4 gates partially open. At the current time the flow through the open gates is approximately 12,500 cubic feet per second. The total discharge is currently less than 100,000 cubic feet per second. The rise of the water at Crump, TN is somewhat dependent on the flow through Kentucky and Barkley Dams. As far as flood stage, you would need to ask TVA that question since they control the water flowing through the dams. This webpage is operated by the Corp of Engineers. TVA controls the electricity and water flow. COE manages the locks for TVA.
Pickwick Lock Screesnshot @ 1:08 M/V Frances R Keegan departing the lock, headed upbound. Great job by the entire crew. The timelapse video is a bit long, but is worth watching til the end. It will give you a perspective of how dangerous towboatin' can be. If an engine stalls/fails once they get above the protective walls, they could end up in the spillways. Watch how the current draws the towboat and tow to the port (left) in the video. The captain of the towboat had to use all of the towboat's power to overcome the draw of the river current toward the spillways in the dam. 🎥H.Soto & R.Boyd Pickwick Lock [They have had a lot of rain and a comment indicates that the outdraft is caused by a current of 200,000 cfs. At the end you can also see the water level in the lock go down.] A 0:21 real-time video showing the draw (current) that the above tow was fighting.
Pickwick Lock posted two photos with the comment: "This is what 200,000 cubic feet of water per second flowing through the Pickwick Dam spillways looks like at night."
[This is the first time I've seen almost all of the gates open. And some of the gates are completely out of the water.]
Dennis DeBruler commented on Pickwick Lock's post Now I'll have to try to remember to access this page during a normal flow to see what the normal elevation is. https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrograph.php?wfo=meg... Pickwick Lock: Dennis DeBruler the normal summer pool below Pickwick is 359.0 M.S.L. elevation, but according to how much water is being discharged at a given time, it can range from a low of 355.0 M.S.L. elevation to as much as 365 M.S.L. elevation. That is with average rainfall. If it floods you are seeing right now what happens. Pickwick Lock: Dennis DeBruler the normal summer pool above Pickwick is 414.0 M.S.L. elevation. We have been as high this time as 417.96 M.S.L. el. Minimum pool is 408.0 M.S.L. el.
Two of the ten photos posted by Pickwick Lock with the comment: "The NASA Ship Pegasus locking through Pickwick Lock early this morning. 📸 H. Soto Pickwick Lock"
Dennis DeBruler: Can the bridge on the front of the barge can remotely control the towboat at the rear?
Pickwick Lock: Dennis DeBruler yes, it can also be disengaged so the towboat has control when needed.
Pickwick Lock posted Cool photo from the wheelhouse of the M/V Duke making a night time downbound approach to the main lock upper long wall. Thanks for sharing the photo Bobby Scheffer. 📸Bobby Scheffer, M/V Duke Crew and Company.
Pickwick Lock posted two photos with the comment: "Nice relaxing day for fishing. Couple photos sent to us by Colby Hutton. Thanks for the photos. 📸 Colby Hutton."
Pickwick Lock posted five photos with the comment: "These photos were sent to us by the Pleasure Craft that locked through yesterday afternoon. Thank You for the photos. 📸 Pam Page Wolfe"
[At posted resolution]
Pickwick Lock posted four photos with the comment: "Rocketship downbound out of Pickwick Main Lock."
Robbie Miller: Just curious, is that the biggest ship that comes through? Definitely a site to see!
Pickwick Lock: Robbie Miller LST 325 is slightly longer, but not as wide.
Pickwick Lock posted Down to 6. TVA closed a couple of the spillway gates a little while ago. [And two of those gates are just partially open.]
Pickwick Lock posted two photos with the comment: "Here are a couple photos taken from across the lake of the M/V Sheryl B Reeves as they are breaking the boat out from the tow and heading over to the Auxiliary Lock to lock lightboat downbound. Then go pull their barges from the Main Lock and complete the fast double lockage. 📸Phil Hollinsworth. Thank You for the photos."
Janet Patterson: Must be super windy, whitecapping
Pickwick Lock posted Teamwork at its best! The M/V Steve Richoux was having difficulty pushing their tow against the current up through the "buoy line" below the lock, so they gave the M/V St. Paul a call and requested assistance. Both Marquette vessels working together safely pushed the tow up to the lock. That is also a nice sunset in the background. 📸 John Carothers JereLewis Cox: Great picture, I’ve seen tows struggle to get upstream from the Rock Pile to the lock when the dam is pushing 80,000+. Glad he found some help.
Mar 6, 2023: Damon Nabors posted TVA letting a few gallons go through today. Ron Bishop shared
0:17 video The spillways at Pickwick this afternoon [Mar 7, 2023]. This is what 160,000 cubic feet of water per second looks like when it is flowing through the spillway gates. That's 1,196,800 gallons of water per second. 🎥John Carothers
I looked at a satellite image to see how big the auxiliary lock was and noticed the dam was spilling when the satellite went over. Note the well defined hydraulic jump in this image. I was curious when that image was taken so I fired up Google Earth to get a date for this spill. Unfortunately, I discovered that Google Earth has some serious errors because this same image was dated Jan 2020 and Feb 2021. There is no way two different days are going to have the same water turbulence pattern. BTW, the next oldest image, Dec 2015, was also spilling water. But not as much. I had to go back to Jun 2006 to find another spilling. And that image was repeated in the next image back, Oct 2005. And in Jan 1997.
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