Aug 13, 2011
This was a really nice day! I did some sightseeing—yes, over the mountains and through the woods—of course, that’s where I am.
I stumbled onto a lovely county park (it even has camping) this morning on my way to the Duke World of Energy. It is called High Falls Park –no, no falls in sight, I finally figured out that a “fall” in this area is a dam! There was a really big dam that I drove over, unfortunately no way to see the actual dam, but water on one side of the “bridge was maybe 5 feet down, the other side was a really deep canyon full of trees—hence it was a dam.
The park is on Lake Keowee, a clear lake sort of greenish blue nestled in the hills. There were lots of families there—swimming in the lake, jet skiing, boating, picnicking. Goodness knows where they all came from, this place is really remote! Maybe Greenville, that is about thirty miles away…
But it is lovely, the lake all sparkly, the reddish “sand” around it and deep green trees.
Then I went to Duke Energy’s nuclear plant to see The World of Energy. I stumbled into a reception for the employees and their families and slipped into a tour given by the plant manager. No, I didn’t do the part actually IN the plant—tempted, but with 9/11 and all, I figured if I was found in there I could be in big trouble.
So I took the tour of the visitor center that he gave. He told lots of detailed explanations of just how they get power, not just nuclear; but coal, and water. I thought the way they use the lakes(reservoirs) was fascinating. It seems they pump water through a generator buried inside one of the hills from the highest lake—Lake Jokasee to a lower lake, Keowee and also from Keowee to Hartwell. The pump stations-generators are buried deep in the hill and nothing shows on top but a small building that is the entrance. That keeps the environmental people happy. They only pump the water during high usage times, the rest of the time they pump water back into the higher lakes. It makes a cycle.
They also use the water from Lake Keowee to cool the nuclear generator and to circulate the steam from the generators to the lake again. He did make a point of mentioning that they monitor the temperature of the water very carefully (I should hope so, see High Falls park above…mmm, toasted tourist)
It was a very interesting presentation and he gave it well. There were only four of us on the tour—it looked like maybe his parents, me and him. I did tell him I was visiting from FL, just didn’t mention that I had no family as employees of the plant. I had mentioned it to the receptionist when I first got there, she welcomed me anyway, the place is open to the public. While he was explaining the plant and pointing to stuff out a window, I was thinking how vulnerable it looked. It is the oldest nuclear plant in the country.
They also had a lovely butterfly garden with Monarch butterflies and several others, this and the visitor center are perched on a hill overlooking the plant.
I then wandered down more windy small roads—thank goodness for Onstar! Off to Oconee Station, a state Historical Site. It started as a small fort (a two story blockhouse is all that is left) on the frontier back in the 1790’s. This was right after the French and Indian war (or Seven Year war in Europe). It was called the Cherokee war here. It seemed the Cherokee Indians had sided with the English and they lost. The English evidently got tired of trying to protect the frontier, drew a line on a map and told all of its citizens to move back on the eastern side of the line…burn their farms, etc. Well, this didn’t go over very well to the people who lived there, and believed in western expansion. This was another cause of the Revolution.
Anyway, after the revolution, the states had to maintain their borders themselves. There was no standing army, just state armies. Kind of national guard troops. The state of South Carolina built a series of small forts on the frontier to protect the settlers and harass the Indians. While they were at it, they annexed a nice big chunk of land right across the trade routes. There are few natural paths across the Appalachian mountains , and this is one of them.
This fort was closed in 1799 (the frontier moved west) and shortly after that an Irish immigrant, William Richards came along. He was a trader and established a big trading post here, built a brick home and used the blockhouse for his kitchen. He evidently was really successful, and made a fortune in furs. He was a middle man, bought furs from traders who got them from trappers and Indians, sold trade goods and supplies.
I was going to hike into a waterfall near there, but the trail looked really rough and I would have been the only one on it, not smart. So I passed. I wish I hadn’t been alone, or if I had a day pack along but alone, with not even some water, not a good idea. It would have been into deep woods, nope too old.