Share your story at the Conowingo Dam!

Robert English

Location: Sheldonville, MA

Occupation: President  of Chemical Solutions, Inc.

My connection to The Conowingo Dam: Grew up from ages 0-18 within a half mile of the dam and spent many days on the lake, the tailrace, and inside the dam as a child. My strongest connection to Conowingo that still is in use and exists today is I purchased 3 of the original lamps which were on the headworks from 1928.  These are beautiful large copper lamps and when the roadway reconstruction/widening took place in the early 70s, we purchased 12 dozen of the original lamp heads (they were on concrete posts) for mementoes and future use.  I still have all three lamps and you can see the lamps in the original photo from the 60s as well as in the photo of my current home, a horse farm, in Sheldonville, Massachusetts.

 


Story: My father took a job as plant engineer with Conowingo Dam in 1950. We moved from Emerton, MD to House No. 8 in Conowingo Village in 1955. In those years, all houses were identified by their number and the houses were "available" (nominal monthly rent) with the position held by the employee at Conowingo Dam, so the Plant Engineer and family were in House 8. I still have a photo of me, my brother Paul X. English, III, and Skippy Barker leaning on the bumper of our Dad's '54 Buick. We continued to live in Conowingo Village and my father was promoted twice more and we had to move twice more first into house 2 and then finally into the Superintendent’s home, house 1, until 1972 when life took all of us on to new places; my brother into the Army, my dad to PE's headquarters in Philadelphia where he stayed until he retired in the late 80s, and I ended up in the Boston area where I have lived for the past 42 years.

I will always hold dear the memories of growing up in Conowingo Village; the countless times I fished as a kid in the lake and marveled at 3' long and larger catfish pulled from the tailrace by fishermen. I walked the entire length of the inspection tunnel collecting stalactites off the ceiling as a kid and remember the struggle to open the massive doors that still to this day adorn the front of the plant. The smells of the elevator ride down the observation platform in turbine hall. I still have one of my first ever photos that I took with a Brownie box camera perched on the railing of observation deck looking down turbine hall.

I still have many fond memories of growing up in Conowingo Village, attending Darlington Elementary School, and on to Bel Air High School where we had over an hour's bus ride each way every day. It was a simple time and life was very good, but like all things we never really knew what we had until it's gone.

Last year, my brother and I went back and walked the area again using our cellphones as a GPS guide to locate our former homes. It's amazing what changes and what does not, but the most incredible thing for me was to realize how quickly nature will reclaim what it owns after we give it over. We found only a few remnants of our former homes: the back foundation wall of the twin garage between house 2 & 3 and the big pine tree in the center of Village Green which can be seen in the background of the photo of my father, Paul X. English Jr., my brother, and me all mounted on our horses which we kept in Berkeley, MD.  That big pine was still there but totally overgrown with vines. In addition, a white pine tree that I brought home from Darlington Elementary on Arbor Day and planted in 1959 (’99 photo below) is now nearly 70' tall and it was a sapling in a paper cup when I put it in the ground. That was very touching for me to have had an opportunity to visit that tree, which is in fact one of my oldest living friends… 

Conowingo Dam represents one of the finest accomplishments of modern construction, and use of a natural resource to produce electricity. With subsequent upgrades to the plant, the generators, and of course the “new” powerhouse of 3 additional generators put in during the late 60s, it is as natural a source of energy as we can find outside of the sun.   

Please support the license renewal of this historical engineering marvel so that it reach 100 years of service in 2028! I grew up there, I bore witness to angst of Agnes where every flood gate opened for the first time ever, and saw lots of challenges to the dam’s resilience.  

This structure is good for our environment, it’s good for our history, and it’s good for our energy needs. I am not in the power business and personally, I have nothing to gain from Conowingo’s license renewal; it’s just the right thing to do.  

Looking forward to seeing Conowingo Dam there for another 86 years!

Barry E. Warren

Location: Nottingham, PA

Occupation: Photographer at BW Photography and retired truck driver of 31 years.

My connection to The Conowingo Dam: Has been a lifetime of enjoyment, I've known a few friends that worked there even back when it was Conowingo Power and Light.

Now I've been bringing my granddaughter to the dam with me. She loves coming to the dam with me. When ever she stays with my wife and I she asks "Pop Pop can we go to the dam?" and of course (weather permitting) we come and visit.

Story: I remember going to the Conowingo Dam since I was just a young lad in the 1960s.We would all hop in the car and go fishing (I would always catch the largest cat fish there).

In addition to my enjoyment of fishing, I have been into photography since my teens, so I've experienced the best of both worlds at the Conowingo Dam- a place known for its wildlife and natural beauty.

Naturally, the dam was a big part of my life when I was younger and is something I continue to enjoy in my later years. I am glad to have seen many changes and improvements over the years that have been made for the visitors that come to the dam.

The Conowingo Dam has been a big part of my life. For me, it’s been a great place for some rest and relaxation and not too far from home.

Thanks Conowingo Dam for all you have done.

Doreen Anderson

Occupation: Retired Administrative Assistant at the University of Delaware.  

Location: Conowingo, MD

Connection to the Dam: Neighbors to Conowingo Dam for 20 years.

Story: My name is Doreen Anderson and I am a stay-at-home grandmother. My husband, Dana, and I live in Conowingo and have enjoyed kayaking on the Susquehanna every summer for several years.

In February, 2013 I was diagnosed with a rare form of acute leukemia (APL). During my one-month hospital stay we didn't know if I would ever be able to kayak at the dam again. I underwent daily chemo infusions for most of the summer, but during a break in July we were able to get out on the river again. Just as we merged onto the Susquehanna from the Octararo Creek, we floated up towards a boulder where a mature bald eagle had perched in all his glory.

Seeing his majestic stance so up close and personal still gives me goose bumps! Before he flew away, my husband snapped this picture. I named the photo "Recovery" for the success of the eagles' recovery in the area (we see as many as 30 eagles per day on a kayak trip down the river) as well as for my own recovery.

Kayaking at the dam was the perfect therapy for us during a difficult time. After two more rounds of chemo in August and another bone marrow biopsy in the fall, I am able to report a complete remission status. We look forward to many more kayaking trips to come and hope to have more photos like this one.

Living close to the Conowingo Dam and the natural wildlife resource it provides is truly a blessing. This photograph has a very special meaning to us and I am proud to share it with you.

 

Geoffrey McCool

Occupation: Retired school teacher

Location: Leeds, MD

Connection to the Dam:  Has fond memories of visiting Conowingo Dam  and renews those memories on occasional visits to Susquehanna Inn

Story: When I was in Leeds County 4H we took a tour of the Conowingo Dam as part of our “Electric Project.” As one might expect, we left the tour wide-eyed with our new understanding of the dam’s contributions. It is an important aspect of life for those of us living in Maryland and the surrounding counties. I for one am thankful to have this important resource.

 

Chris Farmer

Occupation: I’m a plumber. I was a welder before that.

Location: I live in Rising Sun, MD

Connection to Conowingo: My connection to the dam is a love for fishing. The scenery in a kayak staring up river at the dam is priceless.

Chris Farmer's Conowingo Story:

Below is a photo of an old print I bought at an auction. Yes on purpose, because I knew of its significance and it was to my liking. I find the history of the Conowingo Dam truly fascinating.

A number of these old prints were given to the workers at Conowingo Dam and are now being rediscovered in attics, basements and even at auctions.    

 

The auction where I purchased my prints took place in Rising Sun, MD. I have no idea who the original owner was, but I was able to confirm that Daniel Garber painted this particular one in 1939. Enjoy!

 

     

 

     

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