Ex­elon Gen­er­a­tion hosts Conowingo Dam tours

Doc­u­men­tary sparks new in­ter­est in dam

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - IS­SUE By BRI­ANNA SHEA

bshea@ce­cil­whig.com

— A re­cent doc­u­men­tary has led to a surge of in­ter­est in the Conowingo Dam with more than 1,000 peo­ple turn­ing out to Ex­elon Gen­er­a­tion’s an­nual tours of the fa­cil­ity this week­end.

The hy­dro­elec­tric fa­cil­ity, which car­ries U.S. Route 1 over the Susque­hanna River

CONOWINGO

be­tween Conowingo and Dar­ling­ton, as well as its cat­walk, a pop­u­lar fish­ing spot, have been closed to the pub­lic since the 9/11 ter­ror­ist at­tacks. But three years ago, Ex­elon be­gan host­ing free open house tours, which in­clude a roughly hour-long tour of the in­ner work­ings of the 90-year-old power plant.

This year’s turnout was higher than the 700 peo­ple who at­tended the event in 2015 and 2014 and the 900 peo­ple who at­tended in 2013, the first year of the tours, said Deena O’Brien, re­gional com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager for Ex­elon Gen­er­a­tion.

The in­crease in vis­i­tors this year is in part at­trib­uted to “Conowingo Dam: Power On the Susque­hanna,” a Mary­land Pub­lic Tele­vi­sion movie about the dam’s his­tory, O’Brien said, with many peo­ple in­quir­ing about the tour af­ter the doc­u­men­tary aired in April.

Per­ryville res­i­dent Louise Zadorozny and her son Jim, from Athens, Ga., both en­joyed the tour.

“This is my sec­ond tour here and you al­ways learn some­thing new,” Louise said.

Louise said her first tour was about three years ago and she was im­pressed both times. It was much qui­eter this time around though, she said, be­cause there were not as many gates open as the first time she came to visit.

“I think it’s ex­cel­lent,” Jim said of his first tour. “Very in­for­ma­tive and from some­thing that I’ve driven over a cou­ple of times, it’s in­ter­est­ing to see how the dam and struc­ture work.”

Ch­e­sa­peake City res­i­dent Mark Lobach and his wife came to the open house to see the in­side of the dam. Lobach said the first time he came for the open house was in the 1950s when he was in fifth grade. He said he only re­mem­bers all of the wa­ter dur­ing his first tour.

Lobach most en­joyed see­ing the equip­ment and gen­er­a­tors in the Tur­bine Hall and also liked learn­ing about the dam’s wet fish lift, where the fish are scooped up and put on the other side of the dam to travel to their spawn­ing ar­eas.

“I didn’t know they did that,” he said.

Peo­ple also trav­eled from out of state to ex­pe­ri­ence the dam’s open house.

Kathy Du­mas, her brother Steven Sny­der and their mother Chris­tine Sny­der trav­eled from Lan­caster, Pa. to see the in­ner work­ings of the dam.

“We like na­ture and his­tory, so it was a chance to see a side of it (the dam), you don’t nor­mally get to see,” Du­mas said.

She said she fo­cused most on the ar­chi­tec­ture of the build­ing.

“It’s kind of in­ter­est­ing to see the way it is, the way it’s still pre­served,” Du­mas said. “It’s like tak­ing a step into the past. It’s a part of the past that it still vi­tal for our fu­ture.”

Steven Snyer said he and his fam­ily would go to the dam as chil­dren and walk along the fish­ing pier but it was nice to see the in­side of the build­ing. He said he en­joyed see­ing the ma­chin­ery in the build­ing, while Chris­tine Snyer said she en­joyed see­ing the wet fish lift and learn­ing that the fish are scooped up and brought to the other side.

As long as there is a de­mand to see the in­side of the plant, open houses will con­tinue to oc­cur ev­ery year, O’Brien said..

“We have ev­ery in­tent of keep­ing the open house open as long as there is de­mand for it,” she said. “Our in­tent is to keep it as long as the de­mand is there.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY BRI­ANNA SHEA

A tour group is led through the Conowingo Dam’s Tur­bine Hall, which houses sev­eral gen­er­a­tors.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY BRI­ANNA SHEA

Per­ryville res­i­dent Louise Zadorozny and her son, Jim, who is vis­it­ing from Athens, Ga., en­joy the Conowingo Dam tour.

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