The Dam Experience

I mentioned previously that Mark and I had gone to the Mount Morris Dam to have a look. ( I had such trouble with connecting to the internet while we were gone.  It would be here one minute, gone the next, so I had to keep everything short and sweet.) I took these photos on that outing.

While we were there, we went inside the Visitor’s Center to cool off and have a look at information on the dam and how it was built.  Lots of fascinating information, particularly for Mark with his interest in mechanical engineering. As we were walking about, I saw free bookmarks with a picture of the dam on them.  I picked one up and saw on the back that the Army Corps of Engineers offers a free tour of the dam at two o’clock on weekdays.

As we were preparing to leave our campsite, we talked about what we would do on the way home.  The kids stopped at Darien Lake Theme Park for about an hour and a half, then we headed to Mount Morris to try to make it for the tour of the dam.  As it was, we got there at about 1:45, and we were able to join the tour. (They only allow for a group of thirty people)

We had to walk down an access road to the top of the dam and the ranger (a woman named Harmony) warned anyone who might not be able to make it back up the incline to turn around if in doubt.  It was very hot and the walk was only about 1/4 of a mile but we made it with Ben holding Mark back a bit in the wheelchair.

Looking upward from the road as we walked down.

Harmony leading the group as we walk on the top of the dam.  It was a long way down to the Genesee River!!!

Looking southward….The dam is a “dry dam”. This means that it doesn’t typically hold water back, except during times of excess precipitation.  The Genesee River begins in Gold, Pennsylvania and flows northward, finally emptying into Lake Ontario.  On the south side of the dam, there is very little water, unless during heavy precipitation.  On the north side, there is more water as a small dam in Mount Morris causes the water to build up.

After this point in time, we entered the building and we instructed that after 9-11, there are no pictures allowed to be taken inside the dam for security’s sake.  We entered the elevator and explored down seven levels below where we entered.  The tour was very interesting, with the ranger having fun with the kids on the tour.  It was so cool inside the dam….the temperature was a bit above 50 and it smelled musty!  There was lots of condensation.

The tour showed us how the dam operates, and we got to see the big hydraulic motor that opens and closes the gates of the dam according to the desired flow.  It was all pretty amazing.

I wondered how Ben would do helping Mark back up to the top of the hill again.  As I said, it was hot!

We all made it up and Ben and Mark only stopped for a few moments!

We went back inside the center to cool off again as well as to watch a video on the dam’s history.  It all was interesting, and in seeing photos of the devastation to Rochester before the dam was built,  it made perfect sense that this structure was built to save the city, as well as surrounding areas from flooding.  One fact that stood out to me is that the cost of the dam in 1951 was $25 million dollars.  If it was built in 2007, the estimated cost would be $150 million dollars!

The dam really proved its value in 1972 when hurricane Agnes dumped nearly 18 inches of rain in the area and the dam was filled to within four feet of its capacity. The south side, which generally has little water, became a lake, backed up seventeen miles from the dam.  Little destruction resulted, primarily because of the mount Morris Dam.

This would be a tremendous daytrip for those in the area.  The tour is only about one hour long.  It would be great to visit Letchworth State Park on the other side of the gorge either before or after the 2:00 tour!