Bath County

by kfrego

The Bath County Pumped Storage Hydro Electric Project was a $1.6 billion construction project about 60 miles from Roanoke, VA near the West Virginia state border. Bath County is a scenic picturesque area of steep mountains and fertile valleys. The project included dams, tunnels, shafts, a six unit powerhouse, construction living quarters, and two large reservoirs. The project was privately funded, designed, and constructed. The only government participation was through regulatory agencies. Virginia Electric and Power Company (VEPCO) owned and financed the project. Harza Engineering was the principal designer. Daniel International was the general contractor and construction manager. Gates and Fox had the subcontract for all the shafts and tunnels. Phillips and Jordan had the clearing contract. General information for the project is available at: and

While Linda and I got settled in to our home in Covington,VA it was like old home week. There were several people from the area of our home town in Lyon Mountain,NY on the project along with numerous others who were employed on projects in Massachusetts with us. Clifford Lafountain, Nick Walker, and Mike Rabideau from Standish,NY,, Ray and Timmy Atkinson from Riverview,NY,, Walt Dzeima from Reedsboro,VT., and Pat McCoy from Greenfield,MA were old friends we hadn’t seen in quite a while.  At work I was always walking into somebody I hadn’t seen for years.

At work my crews were installing forty and sixty foot rockbolts in the backslope of the powerhouse excavation, installing dewater systems for future powerhouse and dam excavations, supporting haul road construction activities, setting up field offices, supporting drill and blast rock excavations, and supporting initial quarry excavations. Myself and Walt Dzeima ordered supplies for core drilling and installation of geotechnical instruments.

I worked under Ron Maxwell and Jim Scott supporting the excavation and civil activities. Sometimes it required odd jobs like providing support and services to archeology students from James Madison University. They used an abandoned house for living quarters while digging on the project. We had to provide porta-johns, drinking water, garbage removal, and general support for them. The old three story house had undrinkable water, no furniture, a refrigerator, and a washing machine. It was like camping indoors with thirty people including some very young children. They did a good job on their dig sites and investigations, but they reminded me of a misplaced hippy commune more than educated young adult students. Most of them could care less if the sun shined. Others loved to complain about everything and anything. By the end of spring and summer breaks we were happy to see them go back to their classes.

Keeping sixty to one hundred laborers safe, busy, and productive is one thing………..playing nursemaid to a bunch of adult kids is another.