For further details, see our eagle info page here.
For further details, see our eagle info page here.
(Reproduced verbatim from the Hastings Daily Tribune, July 7, 1937)
The Trico board of directors late yesterday took steps to adopt the name Kingsley Dam for the major unit of the Tri-County power and irrigation district.
The name thus chosen memorializes the late George P. Kingsley, who throughout the last 20 years of his life contributed more in means, time and energy to this particular public works movement than any other person.
Heretofore the unit has been informally called the Keystone dam, because the location is close to the town of Keystone. The latter, however, is below the dam and bears no relation to the unit except proximity, and that is a matter of some four or five miles.
George P. Kingsley was the father of Dr. D.W. Kingsley who has been president of the district organization since it was organized under the law known as Senate File No. 310. He piloted the movement through its most discouraging stages, never faltering in the face of almost insurmountable obstacles, and donating constantly to the funds which were required for its promotion.
Countless trips to Washington, long stays at Washington and at the state capitol, attendance at meetings without number in Nebraska, and unceasing labor with scientists, technical persons, industrial leaders and others who had a part in shaping the project and bringing it to the favorable attention of the public, were all a part of Kingsley’s contribution.
The action of the Trico board is in full compliance with the PWA rule forbidding the naming of public works units after living persons. Though an exception was made in the case of the Norris, dam, the rule otherwise has been invariably observed with reference to all structural units of major importance.
The death of George Kingsley preceded the approval of Tri-County by the president and the public works administration.
Though he did not live to see the full realization of the dream to which he and a few others had dedicated the later years of their lives, he had definitely concluded that on the basis of merit and the opportunity provided through the government’s enlarged participation in public works that sooner or later constructions and operation of the project was inevitable.
Authority was given by the board of a request to PWA that the official name be recorded in the files, maps, charts and other records at Washington.
The Kingsley Dam will create a lake that will extend back the river for a distance of 23 miles. It will be one of the largest inland bodies of water in America, next to the Great Lakes, and the dam itself in size will rank second in the world to Fort Peck in the earth fill classification.
Central teamed up with the group Keep Keith County Beautiful to re-vamp the iconic “Leave only your footprints please!” sign located on the shore of Lake McConaughy.
Central funded the project, which included repairing and repainting the cement slab. The sign had not been touched-up since August 1989.
Originally, the cement slab served as an unloading dock for the railroad as supplies were brought in on rail cars during construction of the dam. Although at times of high tide it is covered by water, most days it welcomes guests to Lake McConaughy with a friendly reminder to keep the beaches free of trash and debris.
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.
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.
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.
Budgettravel.com recently released a photo story about the top 27 places to go camping. Along with the expected beaches of various Caribbean islands, mountainous state parks, and foreign wonderlands lies Central’s very own beaches of Lake McConaughy, listed at number three. Click the link above to see it yourself!
The following post was written by Kyle Gaston, one of two CNPPID summer interns working at Lake McConaughy this summer. Kyle is an environmental science major at Doane College.
This summer has been quite the learning experience for me having never done work with birds before. I have learned a lot and had some good and some not so good experiences this summer. Locating birds, nests, and chicks took some time but the more I worked the easier it got. The job also got more enjoyable once I gained the confidence to do it. This job wasn’t all enjoyable though just like any other job. My first day working in one of the tern enclosures, I learn quickly to not look up because those terns seem to have extremely good aim and will leave your shirt, hat, and anything else you are wearing with white stains.
On a better note, there are some fun and enjoyable parts as well. The people I work with are almost always in good humor. We always seem to be making jokes and never allow people to forget some embarrassing events such as being stuck on the beach, even though we all have been stuck at some point. Overall, working for Central has been a fun and great experience for me even if those terns leave stains all over my clothes, and I would be happy to return and work again next summer.
On this day in 1941, Kingsley Dam was officially dedicated. Water storage in Lake McConaughy began to fill and irrigation water was delivered that same year. The project as a whole was officially completed in 1943.
Chief Engineer George E. Johnson is shown above speaking at the dedication ceremony.
A large crowd gathered to attend the official dedication of Kingsley Dam.
Two young girls are shown here cutting a string to drop a capsule into the dam at the ceremony.
For more information on the history of the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District, visit our History page here.
The combination of almost perfect weather and a three-day weekend – not to mention the inviting water and beaches of Lake McConaughy – produced a record number of visitors to Central’s storage reservoir over the Fourth of July weekend.
The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission reported that 181,147 visitor-days were recorded for the July 4-6 weekend. The previous record was 142,446 in 2010 when July 4 fell on a Sunday. A visitor-day is one person per day, so if a person stayed for three days, that would result in a count of three visitor-days. Using those figures, an average of more than 60,000 people were at the Lake McConaughy/Lake Ogallala recreation areas each day.
The NGPC reported that all 325 camping pads in their modern campground were occupied. Nate Nielsen, Central’s foreman at Kingsley Dam, reported that the beaches and shorelines were lined with campers and tents, in some places four and five rows deep.
The Keith County News reported that businesses catering to lake visitors, including restaurants and convenience stores, were busy throughout the weekend with large, steady crowds of customers.
Law enforcement officials reported no serious problems, although the local sheriff’s office, the State Patrol and fire and rescue crews were extraordinarily busy responding to various emergencies, accidents, traffic issues, incidents, and complaints. All in all, though, a family-friendly atmosphere predominated and fun, recreation and relaxation ruled the weekend.
Nielsen also reported that the crowds of people did an excellent job of avoiding tern and plover nesting areas. Central personnel helped patrol the areas and reported no incidents of nest disturbances.
Johnson Lake near Lexington also drew large crowds. Larry Ossenkop, clerk of the Sanitation Improvement District at the lake, used water usage figures to provide an estimate of about 6,500 people at the homes, cabins and campgrounds over the weekend. Water levels were favorable, the weather was near perfect (although Sunday’s temperatures rose to somewhat steamy levels) and the lake was busy with watercraft of all shapes and sizes.