Archives September 2014

From the Archives: Dam Worker Lives to Tell Story of Trip through Pipeline

From the Archives: Dam Worker Lives to Tell Story of Trip through Pipeline

Reprinted from the Hastings Daily Tribune, January 1940

Human Interest – Dam Worker Lives to Tell of Being Swept Through Trico Dam Drain Pipe

Human interest stories are sprinkled through the many years of Tri-County promotion.

Human interest stories have also cropped up at frequent intervals during the huge construction program. There has been humor and tragedy.

Best story of recent months coming from the far-flung construction front could have been tragic. It wasn’t, and its very hair-raising details would make it subject matter for the writers of those stories which keep you holding your breath but always turn out all right in the end.

Here are the details:

Robert McCoy, 26, on December 6, 1939, was employed by the contractors building the huge earth fill at Kingsley Dam. He and a companion were on a boat tending the openings from which water drains from what is known as the “core pool,” the body of water visible in the central picture on the front of this section of the Tapeline (see photo below).

The core pool is formed by the clay and water pumped from the hills south of the dam. The water brings the clay, the clay settles to form the impervious core of the dam. The core is built up by the dredging of loess soil from the hard ground south of the river, while the bulk of the dam is given form by the piling up of sand dredged from the river bed.

Look at the panoramic view of the incompleted dam. You will see a small speck near the center of the view, to the left of the long line which is the pipe carrying clay from the hillside to the core pool. That speck is the opening of a 24-inch pipe, one of several. (The “speck” is not visible in the accompanying photo, which is not the same one published in the Hastings Daily Tribune.) This pipe and its companions serve to drain water from the core pool after the silt has settled to its permanent place in the huge fill.

Getting back to McCoy. He fell off his boat and was caught in the rush of water into the pipe. He went in feet first, dropped about 300 feet, made the right angle turn at an elbow and was bumped along for some 500 feet through the 24-inch corrugated pipe to the outlet at the upstream toe of the dam.

His companion was helpless. When McCoy disappeared, the only thought of the man left on the boat was how to get the body out of the pipe. It would be lodged in the elbow, he assumed.

This second man hurried to a nearby shack to report to fellow workers. He had barely explained the situation when up from the toe of the dam came McCoy. He entered the shack and collapsed.

Considerable muddy water was pumped from his lungs. He was ill for a few days and his face was mighty sore from being knocked against the corrugated pipe. Otherwise, there is nothing else to the story, as it is told by the Tri-County workmen who have looked over the scene and are still wondering how McCoy lived to tell about it.

The story has served to clarify for more than one person – this writer for example – the significance of the core pool in the dam project.

Kingsley Dam construction 497

Removal of Lost Creek Flume

Removal of Lost Creek Flume
image (6)

Central employees begin removal of flume structure following the end of irrigation deliveries for 2014.

Work began this week on removal of the Lost Creek Flume west of Axtell. The flume, approximately 1,300 feet in length, is original to the project and has required numerous repairs. Over the years, it has deteriorated to a point that repair is no longer feasible, and Central’s board of directors voted in May to replace it with 2,700 feet of 42 inch pipeline, which will be used to continue to provide water to 1,785 acres downstream of the flume.

DSCF3389

A view from on top of the flume. Water is seen flowing through to provide irrigation water during summer 2014.

IMG_3535

The check gate shown here is used to control flow of water through the flume.

DSCF3390 IMG_3585

Platte Basin Time-lapse & Crane Trust Tour Central’s Project

Platte Basin Time-lapse & Crane Trust Tour Central’s Project

Central personnel had the opportunity to take an interesting group of people on a tour of the hydro-irrigation project this summer, a group with more than just a passing interest in the Platte River.

Representatives from the Platte Basin Time-lapse Project and the Crane Trust, Inc., spent two days exploring many aspects of Central’s hydro-irrigation project, including parts of the irrigated area, the Jeffrey Island Habitat Area, Johnson Lake, the Gothenburg Control Center, the Jeffrey Hydroplant, Kingsley Dam and Lake McConaughy and the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission’s Lake McConaughy Water Interpretive Center.  Central’s two summer employees — college students studying wildlife ecology — who monitored nests established by least terns and piping plovers at Lake McConaughy also participated in the tour.

Time lapse crane trust central interns 2014 tour

Representatives of the Platte Basin Time-lapse Project, the Crane Trust and two of Central’s summer employees who monitored nesting by least terns and piping plovers at Lake McConaughy gather for a group picture on the Hilltop above Kingsley Dam.

In 2011, photographer Mike Forsberg and Nebraska Educational Telecommunications (NET) film producer Michael Farrell began a project to examine and document the growing demands of agriculture, municipalities, power generation, recreation and wildlife on the Platte Basin. The Platte Basin Time-lapse Project (PBT) is the result of that effort. The PBT is a private/public partnership with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and NET, with support from numerous other organizations. By compressing time through time-lapse camera technology, various moments in the river’s processes can be seen in ways normally not perceptible. It also allows viewers to increase their understanding and appreciation of the Platte River and its importance to our region.

About 40 solar-powered time-lapse cameras are currently installed at important locations throughout the Platte Basin. The cameras automatically take one photo every daylight hour of everyday, allowing the capture of a moment in time. When stitched together — days, months, and years go by in minutes — the images provide a unique perspective about the many forces that act upon the river and the dynamics that fit together to shape the river from headwaters to mouth.

PBT staff created an interactive map after the tour that helps explain the hydro-irrigation project and its importance to the State of Nebraska.

The Crane Trust is a non-profit organization devoted to the protection and enhancement of habitats for whooping cranes, sandhill cranes and other migratory birds along the Big Bend Region of the Platte River Valley in Nebraska.

The Crane Trust was formed in 1978 as part of a court-approved settlement of a controversy over the construction of Grayrocks Dam on a tributary of the Platte River in Wyoming. The state of Nebraska and the National Wildlife Federation objected to the project, claiming it would jeopardize irrigation and wildlife downstream in Nebraska. The settlement satisfied requirements of the Endangered Species Act and allowed the Missouri Basin Power Project, owners of Grayrocks, to complete construction. The Crane Trust was funded by a payment from the Missouri Basin Power Project, and income from the endowment is used to finance land acquisition. The Trust is administered by three trustees who are appointed by the three participants in the settlement.

Once on opposite sides of the fence in how Platte River habitat should be managed, Central and the Crane Trust are now working together to ensure that there is enough water to provide all of the benefits – irrigated agriculture, power production, recreation, wildlife habitat, and groundwater recharge — on which Nebraska depends.

Jeffrey Lake Hydro morning horizon by Mike Forsbert

Sunrise over Jeffrey Hydroplant. (Photo by Mike Forsberg)