|About Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation
Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation was incorporated January 6, 1930 with two stockholders. Pennsylvania Water & Power Company held one-third of the common stock and Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore, the predecessor of the present Baltimore Gas and Electric Company, the other two-thirds. Preliminary construction got under way on November 4, 1929 and actual work in the river started in April 1930. The first power generated and delivered occurred in December 1931, only twenty months after work was started in the river. The last unit placed in service occurred in October 1940. Originally seven generating units were installed with a total capacity of 230 mega watts at a cost of $34 million. In 1985 and 1986, five additional generating units were installed creating a total capacity of 417 mega watts at a total cost of $125 million.
Much Needed Jobs
The Arundel Corporation of Baltimore was awarded the general contract for construction of the Safe Harbor Project.
The decision to proceed with the project despite the stock market crash in October 1929 with its portents of the severe depression that did follow, was a fortunate one for the local area. Much needed jobs were provided and the large purchases of materials gave a sagging economy a boost. It also proved to be a prudent move as labor and material were plentiful and costs were lower than at any other time since. At the height of construction, over 4,000 men representing nearly all the principal construction trades were employed on the project.
Restoration of American Shad
In June 1993, Safe Harbor signed an agreement with environmental and government agencies, committing Safe Harbor to design and construct a Fish Passage Facility at the dam that would allow the native American shad to return to their natural spawning ground. Stone and Webster Engineering Corporation was selected to be the architect/engineer for the project and in February 1995 Cianbro Corporation was selected to be the general contractor. The facility was completed in September 1996 at a cost of $17 million. Operations commenced for the first time in April 1997 during the three-month spring migration.
The Blizzard of '96
The blizzard of 1996 dumped in excess of 30 inches of snow over the 27,000 square mile river basin. The heavy snow pack from upstate, together with two days of 60-degree weather and heavy rains, sent ice from 300 miles upriver to Safe Harbor in a two-day period. On January 20, 1996, flooding and ice caused severe damage to the corporation's skimmer wall. The structure extends approximately 1,500 feet upriver from the powerhouse. It is a reinforced concrete structure consisting of 31 piers, 50 feet apart built on bedrock 65 feet below the water surface, a walkway deck and a vertical skimmer wall suspended from the piers extending 17 feet beneath the water surface. The deck and skimmer wall spans between the piers. The purpose of the wall is to deflect debris, coming down river, away from the water intake of the generating units. Approximately 1,000 feet of the structure was overturned and destroyed.
Harza Engineering was hired to be the architect/engineer for designing a new wall and Cianbro Corporation was selected to be the general contractor. Site work commenced in April 1998 and the wall was completed in December 1999 at a cost of $17 million, most of which was covered by insurance.
It begins in Lake Ostego, New York, flows through the entire state of Pennsylvania, and on to the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. It is 448 miles of water known as the Susquehanna River.
From Indian tribes, to the traders of the 1600's, to the white settlers who arrived in the 1700's, the area we now call Safe Harbor has always played an important roll in the lives of those who lived nearby. Many intriguing reminders remain of those early inhabitants. Petroglyphs (inscriptions and carvings) are still visible on Big and Little Indian rocks in the river, about half a mile below the present Safe Harbor dam.
It is unknown exactly how many generations of Indian tribes like the Susquehannocks used the Susquehanna as a means of food, travel, and a way of life. But, early explorations of the river go back to 1608. In that year, Captain John Smith headed up an exploration voyage from the Jamestown Colony. While navigating the northern regions of the Chesapeake Bay, he sailed upstream onto the Susquehanna River until the falls that now bear his name stopped him six miles into the journey. Smith was most likely the first to meet the Susquehannock tribe of Indians and they made quite an impression. He later referred to them as "giants to the English".
In 1616, Etienne Brule, a Frenchman in the service of the governor of Canada came at it from a different direction. He descended "a great river" from the north, in the country of the Iroquois, and followed it south to the Chesapeake. In doing so, he became the first known white man to travel the full length of the Susquehanna.
How did the name Safe Harbor come to be? One theory suggests that prior to 1695, William Penn selected 16,000 acres in what is now Manor Township. His hope was to open a channel in the rock and island-studded Susquehanna for ships to sail up from the Chesapeake Bay. This "chief city" would rival Philadelphia and by widening the Conestoga Creek just above its' mouth, he would create a "safe harbor".
The name Safe Harbor, according to the second theory, refers to the point where the Conestoga flows deep into the river, providing a "safe harbor" for any vessel whose crew successfully passes Turkey Hill.
In 1808, the name Safe Harbor first appeared in public print. The Lancaster Intelligencer & Weekly Advertiser reported the erection of "a large and commodious Storehouse on the Bank of the Mouth of the Conestoga, called Safe Harbor."
The Safe Harbor Hydroelectric Project
Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation
Brookfield Renewable Energy Group