June 12, 2008

Can’t get my arms around it

Filed under: Historic District, Markers, & Flags — lessie @ 2:56 pm

I am not bending or lying down. This “wheel” is tremendous. (And from a photography point of view, trying to capture it has caused me to consider scale for the first time. The way I take the picture can make the turbine appear larger or smaller — distorting or representing more correctly the scale. UGH — the challenge of a good shot! 🙂 )

“What IS that?” My first thought driving down McDuffie and discovering this newish public space. The mammoth “wheel” is a generator built in 1911 which operated at the Portman Shoals Power Plant. The plant closed in 1960, as the area prepared for the flooding waters of man-made Hartwell Lake. Anderson saved the generator from the power plant and housed it in the Coleman Recreation Center, until the Rec was rebuilt recently. Currently the generator is displayed in a park on the corner of McDuffie and Whitner Streets.

Barron Cooley, a long-time Anderson native, shares a cool story about this turbine:

I have always had a curiosity about what lies under Lake Hartwell, and had looked at this generator, years ago when it was in a back room at the old Anderson Recreation Center. There were five of these generators in the power house of the old Portman Dam, now under water. My dad told me stories of fishing behind the dam as a kid. …Bob Hill of Hill Electric in Anderson…saw me taking photos [of the generator in this park] and came in to show me the most amazing scrapbook that HIS FATHER had kept when he worked in the old powerhouse, monitoring the generators. This very generator. Mr Hill had quite a history book, probably the most comprehensive history of the Portman Dam and powerhouse anywhere. Even though he was late for a meeting, he took about thirty minutes to show and tell his father’s book. Talk about being in the right place at the right time! I just love Anderson history.


I admit I do too.  More pictures are here.



  1. Great shot!

    I hope someone in Anderson County is taking notice of how well you’re documenting things. Seems to me there should be a local paper aching for your perspective.

    Comment by Bruce — June 12, 2008 @ 7:37 pm

  2. […] Portman Marina in foreground, looking north up the Seneca river. The old Portman dam (remember the generator downtown?) was between the two bridges on the Seneca River. The first bridge is highway 24 and the second, […]

    Pingback by Monday Night Flight « ANDERSON DAILY PHOTO — July 31, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

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