Watauga Dam, Front and Back

It’s hard to tell from looking at the lake, even with the plaque in front of you, just how massive the Watauga Dam is… until you turn around. It’s actually pretty disorienting to look at what looks like a normal lake, then turn around and see the valley that the lake used to be. And when you look down the slope at the valley floor below you really start to understand how deep the lake really is.

Watauga Dam

Backside

Hydroelectric on a Blackwater River

There are few natural features that look colder than a rushing blackwater river when the air temperature is below 0ºF. The convergence of this little reservoir to the far-off (and equally miniature) hydroelectric station neatly contrasts the frigid setting with the optimism of twentieth-century technocrats. (The Adirondacks are dotted with an improbable number of tiny hydroelectric stations.)

Hydroelectric on a Blackwater River

The Loneliest Hydroelectric Station

Today’s post is a particularly old photograph of mine–so old, in fact, that you’ll have to pardon the fact that it was taken before I owned a DSLR. I happened upon it the other night, and it was so lovely that I just couldn’t resist processing and posting it.

Above Bridal Veil Falls, in the box canyon cliffs surrounding Telluride, CO, is this building. At first, it looks to be a lonely house, but the truth is far more fascinating: it is the second AC hydroelectric power station in the United States. The facility was restored in the 1980’s, and still provides 1/4 of the power to the little town of Telluride in the distance.

The Loneliest Hydroelectric Station