Highlights of Irmo and Lake Murray History Information and images for this was gathered from the following sources: Blue Heron Guide http://www.blueheronguide.com/Humminbird_side_scan_image.htm Capital City Lake Murray Country Visitor Center The History of Lake Murray by Kim Bowman, 1999 Lake Murray Magazine. Irmo History and Information http://www.irmoinfo.com/ Kobe Bryant photo source http://www.nba.com/gallery/pg_kobe_bryant_5.html Lake Murray Legend and Leisure by Coy Bayne, 1992 Bayne Publishing. South Carolina Electric and Gas http://www.sceg.com/en/my-community/lake-murray/history/default.htm WikiPedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Murray_(South_Carolina)
Did you ever wonder why this is the name of your hometown? Guess what it is a made up name!!!! The word Irmo as created by putting portions of the last name of two men who worked for the railroad. The men were C.J. Ir edell and H.C. Mo seley. Irmo What a weird name!!!! Why don’t you and the person sitting closest to you make up a name for your area of the classroom using the first two letters of your last name?
If you wanted to get a train you would wait at the Irmo Depot. The town of Irmo was built around the train station. Can you catch a train in Irmo today? Have you ever ridden on a train?
This is where the “Ancient Irmese” shopped. Have you ever been to this store?
Irmo Post Office This was our town post office from 1914-1956. Guess what is located here today.
Irmo in thePast Today this is the Irmo Town Hall. It originally was the home of the Gus Mathias family. Luther Mathias was Irmo’s first mayor 1 2 3 Everyone in the Mathias family SMILE!!! Look for this house the next time you are in Irmo.
This is the Lorick Plantation Home. It was built in 1840 by George Lorick. He was one of the areas wealthiest farmers. He owned 132 slaves and 7,650 acres. How are these pictures and the Lorick Plantation Home connected?
This is a piece of a cannonball. This is a leg knife and fitting. This is a tool used to dig trenches.
The Lorick Plantation home was occupied by a detachment of General Sherman’s army during the Civil War. When the troops left they took hot coals from the fireplace and dragged them across the floor so the house would catch fire. Family members returned and were able to save the house. That explains the cannonball, trench tool, and knife fitting. What about that coat and hat?
One of George Lorick’s descendents, Harold P. Lorick, built a race track for carriage racing on the property. This jacket and hat was worn by the racers. Guess what is located on the race track today?
The Lorick home has seen a lot of changes. The biggest change was when the home was loaded on a truck and moved 5 miles. The Lorick Plantation home is now the Capital City-Lake Murray Country Visitors Center. The home would love for you to come and visit.
The Lorick home is now located near Lake Murray. The lake also has stories to tell. What is hidden beneath the surface of Lake Murray? Where did the Lake get its name? When was it built?
Lake Murray was named for the engineer who designed the lake. His name was William S. Murray. He was a very tall man 6 feet 8 inches tall. He was two inches taller than I am!! Bryant photo source http://www.nba.com/gallery/pg_kobe_bryant_5.html
World War II planes bombed the islands and some crashed into the lake?!?
To make Lake Murray 100,000 acres of land was purchased from around 5000 families. The land was purchased for a cost between $15 and $45 per acre. Dozens of communities were abandoned. These communities had churches, schools, and cemeteries. These had to be moved. One hundred ninety three (193) cemeteries containing two thousand three hundred twenty three graves (2323) were moved. Some families chose not to move the graves and if you visit several area churches you will see monuments listing the names of the graves that are under the lake. That means that you could find bomb fragments, graves, a few houses, and probably a few boats under the lake. But not you!!!
I want to look under the lake to see some of these hidden things. Do you think we could do that?
This building is under the lake. It was a trading post built of stone by the early Dutch German settlers. When it was built the Cherokee Indians still were in this area. What does it look like today?
This is a sonar picture of the trading post under the lake. I found this picture on the internet at this location http:// www.blueheronguide.com/Humminbird_side_scan_image.htm Compare it to the earlier picture I showed you.
It is not unusual to find a bridge over a body of water. Can you guess what I am going to reveal to you under Lake Murray? The Wyses Ferry bridge in this picture is under Lake Murray. This is a sonar picture of the bridge under the lake.
How was the lake made? Did they just dig a big hole with a shovel? Do you think that Paul Bunyan was around to help?
Construction began on the dam in 1927. Most of the work involved not digging a hole but cutting down pine trees and tearing down homes.
The 65,000 acres of land was cleared of pine trees by over 2,000 men. They did not have power saws. They used crosscut saws and axes. X
Wow sawing down all of those trees was hard work!! Can you guess how much money these men were paid. They worked from 6 AM to 6 PM six days a week. Let me give you a clue. They were paid less money for one week of work than the amount of money people make for one hour of work today. Today a worker can expect to make at least $7.25 per hour. These workers were paid $.50 a day. Can you figure out how much they made a week. Remember they worked six days a week. That means they made $3.00 per week!!!
Do you know what they did with all of the trees that were cut down? What are these men doing in this picture? This is a sawmill. Over 100 million board feet of lumber was manufactured in the 37 saw mills that came to the area. Some was used to build the dam and some was used to build a railroad between the dam and Irmo.
Because so many people were needed to build the dam. Workers came from other parts of the country. Our country was headed toward a very difficult time in our economy known as the Great Depression. A project like this provided jobs for people who were losing jobs in other areas. This is a picture of the camp headquarters for the dam construction. In this area was the employment office, mess hall, land office, garage, and a bunk house.
After they cleared all of the trees, they needed to bring in materials to build the dam and the power plant. Remember they built a train track to Irmo. This train track was used to bring in the materials they needed and to dump the dirt for the dam. The workers did not have a lot of fancy equipment to use. They had the train for help and steam shovels. You can see a steam shovel in this picture.
Would you like to see that steam shovel in action? If you have 45 seconds I can show you some video of the dam under construction. Hard to believe that even way back in 1927 they could create moving pictures. I found this on the SCE&G web site. SCE&G owns Lake Murray and the dam. Click on the TV to view the video.
To build the Lake Murray Dam took a lot of people, time and money. Do you know why the dam was built? Who came up with the idea to build the dam? This is a picture of the way the land looked before the dam. Farms were everywhere. Sometimes the residents might need to cross the Saluda River. To do this they road the Holley Ferry.
Since the 1800s people considered the Saluda River a resource for water power. The Saluda Manufacturing Company built a stone dam to use water power to make cotton cloth during the Civil War. This dam was destroyed by a flood in the 1880s. In 1916 a man named T.C. Williams had a radical idea. He thought that hydroelectric power could be generated on the Saluda, Santee, and Cooper rivers. These were not swift rivers and the surrounding area contained swamps and were flat. Mr. Williams was not an engineer and many people laughed at his idea. He did not give up and finally he found someone who could help make his idea a reality. He presented his idea to an engineer. Do you know the name of that engineer? Did you answer William S. Murray? Mr. Murray had the skill to build the dam. Mr. Williams was a realtor and he was able to get the land to build the dam.
Now we know Mr. Williams had the idea to build the dam and he found Mr. Murray to make it happen. But why did we need the dam? Inventors had been very busy creating things that needed electricity and people were starting to purchase these things. This meant there was a big demand for electricity. TV image http://framemaster.tripod.com/ Radio image http://www.readwritethink.org/lesson_images/lesson887/radio-pictures.html Stove image http://www.sciencetech.technomuses.ca/English/collection/stoves5.cfm TV was being developed and was in a few homes by 1934.
Did you figure out why we needed the dam? If you were thinking it was because more people were using things that needed electricity, you were correct. Think of all the things at school and at home that use electricity. It is a good thing that Lake Murray and the dam are here for our needs.
The dam was built using the clay soil available in the area. It was known from past experience that earthen dams can last for centuries. Do you know what clay soil looks like? Do you think there is clay soil around your school? If there is maybe you can figure out a way to build a small dam. No wait, that could get messy so maybe we better not do that!!! In August 1929 the dam was not finished but had reached a point that some water was allowed to begin filling the lake area. To do this they closed one of the intake tower gates. Between September 26 th and October 2 nd heavy downpour from two tropical storms, one following the other, brought waters rushing into the young lake. This was the greatest flood to ever occur on the Saluda River. These towers were built to control the flow of water into the lake and to help produce electricity. This is how they looked before the lake was filled. Have you seen these towers when you ride across the dam?
By 1930 work on the dam was moving at a faster pace. Watch this picture change from the way that it looks in this picture to the way it looked 4 months later. An airplane took a picture of the road on top of the dam in 1998. It has changed a lot since 1930!! On December 1, 1930 the first electric power was delivered. The entire project took three years to complete. This is how the road looks today.
When the lake was first filled with water, many people were afraid to go into the water. They thought it was dirty and that they might catch malaria or typhoid fever. Today people use the lake for fishing, swimming, and boating. The lake has many islands that are named after families in the community--Shull, Spence, Dreher, Bundrick to name a few.
In 2001 a backup dam was built. The work for this dam was completed in 2005 Click on the TV to learn about the building of this dam.