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Bull Shoals Dam Tours To Start Next Year

Phil Lilley

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Bull Shoals Dam tours to start next year


Bulletin Staff Writer

Bull Shoals Dam, one of the largest in the country when it was constructed, once again will open for tours, tentatively set to start in spring.

Public tours stopped after Sept. 11, 2001, due to security concerns.

Tourists will not be allowed to take photographs during the tours, which include going inside to view turbines and different rooms.

"We are pleased to start these tours again," said Steve Hernandez, Powerhouse superintendent.

The tours will resume in conjunction with the Bull Shoals-White River State Park, he said.

The plant and tour are accessible to handicapped persons, Hernandez added.

Jennifer Bassett, park interpreter, gave members of the media a preview Wednesday of what tourists will see and talked about the history of the dam.

Bassett says interest in the tours — which will be made possible through a cooperative effort by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the state park and state park volunteers — remained high during the six years they were suspended.

Laborers worked day and night for four years to construct the dam at a cost $86 million, Bassett said. The dam's main purpose was flood control. It can generate 390 megawatts at peak production.

When the dam was constructed, it was the fifth-largest concrete dam, Bassett said.

The dam's control room operates the power plants at Bull Shoals, Norfork and Greers Ferry dams. Norfork is capable of producing 80 megawatts; Greers Ferry, 96 megawatts.

Bassett says what amazes her was the equipment at the dam — all of it original and kept in good condition. Most of the maintenance work is done in-house.

The transformers at the dam have been in service for 54 years, Hernandez said. One transformer was involved in a fire and explosion last year but has been repaired since.

Bassett says the magnitude of the structure will impress the public during the tours.

"It is impressive, and the fact that the equipment is original," Bassett said. "It has been functioning properly for the last 50 years with (some) maintenance."



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