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Hartford Courant, November 3, 1919


Power Company Rushes Dam

To Meet Coal Crisis





Connecticut Light & Power Company

to Employ 500 Workmen Day and Night

in Race with Diminishing Coal Supply.




Immediate Application of

Housatonic Pressure will

Assure Electricity and

Save $1,000,000 of Coal in Year


Confronted with a threatened coal famine growing out of the miners’ strike, officials of the Connecticut Light & Power Company, furnishing electricity to more than 36,000 customers in Connecticut, yesterday disclosed a plan to rush their gigantic new dam at Stevenson to completion within two weeks, barring interference, and continue production of electricity by water power from the Housatonic River.


A force of 500 workers and engineers will work night and day in an effort to prevent a curtailment of electric service that might force big Connecticut industries to close down for lack of power. Powerful searchlights are already installed at the plant under construction to facilitate uninterrupted work at night.


If the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company, acting under the United States Railroad Administration, continues the confiscation of coal in transit to Connecticut industries and power plants, the mammoth dam at Stevenson will be the only large source of electricity in the state when the present supply of other companies is exhausted.


Nearly 10,000 tons of coal a month will be released for other purposes immediately upon the starting of the water wheels at Stevenson that are capable of producing 40,000 horsepower, and coal costing $1,000,000 a year under existing prices will be quickly diverted to other industries, presumably in the state, if any at all is available.  The pressure from the Housatonic River will be made to do the work of the coal.


When interviewed yesterday at his home in North Canaan, Vice-President J. henry Roraback of the Connecticut Light and Power Company said that every available man was being used to hurry the construction of the dam. He said the company’s plant in Waterbury, where electricity is generated by steam, had only a six weeks’ supply of coal on hand and the fact that the government was seizing coal shipments for the use of the railroads made it imperative that the greatest haste be made.


With rainfall as plentiful as in the past few weeks, he felt that the 1,5000 acre basin behind the great dam, with its capacity of 1500,000,000 cubic feet of water, would be filled in less than a week, providing the herculean pressure required to move four generators of 10,000 horse-power each.  Capable of generating 6,600 volts, they will be stepped up to 66,000 volts. High-tension wires have already been erected to Waterbury, from which point power will be distributed over an immense area in the state, including Waterbury, Naugatuck, Beacon Falls, New Britian, Seymour, Southington, Cheshire, Branford, Norwalk, Greenwich and smaller places.   Big factories are supplied with power in practically all of these places, where tens of thousands are employed.


Mr. Roraback was unable to say yesterday if any coal consigned to the Waterbury plant of the company had been taken by the railroad administration while in transit, as has been the case with shipments consigned to several other Connecticut companies.


It is said that the coal famine of 1917 was the immediate cause of the project at Stevenson, although the plan had been long in contemplation.  It was late in that year that the work was started.


Six miles of railroad track for the company’s sole use had to be constructed and three bridges spanning the river were built, one of which is still standing. During the busiest time, eight standard garage locomotives, five narrow gauge locomotives and forty-five cars were used for hauling material to the great structure.  It was originally expected that the dam would not be ready for the generation of electricity until about the first of next year.


Before a ten-mile area back of the dam can be flooded, injunction proceedings brought by Nathan W. Hendryx of New Haven must be disposed of. The case is to be tried tomorrow before Judge Gardinae Greene at New Haven. Mr. Hendryx is the owner of property abutting the so-called River Road, running between the towns of Oxford and Southbury, which will be under nearly seventy feet of water when the gates of the dam are cleared.

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