Monday, January 9, 2012

William S. Murray - Namesake for Lake Murray

William S. Murray, a New York engineer that had the final conception plan for Lake Murray and did much of the engineering of the hyrdo project, died on this day 70 years ago in New York City.

CLICK HERE to read the entire obituary in PDF format
(I secured this on a special request to The New York Times - image may not be reproduced)

Mr. Murray was very involved in the early electrification of the United States.  He supervised the first high-tension electrification of a steam railroad; conceived and supervised an early Super-power Plan (mapped the power resources of the entire country); did engineering work on many other early electric generation projects; owned his own engineering firm and served on many important boards.

Portion of William S. Murray Obituary
from The New York Times - January 10, 1942
Several times in the 1800s, there were ideas or proposals to dam the Saluda River in the vicinity of the current Dreher Shoals Dam.  Again, in the early 1900s, several sites were considered for a dam, including a Bear Creek site and also at the Dreher Shoals area.  Finally, around 1925, Mr. Murray's firm, Murray and Flood, was retained to serve as supervisory engineer for the creation of a dam in central South Carolina.  They initially examined an area on the Santee River but found that unworkable.  Their studies found that a massive earthern dam on the Dreher Shoals site (about mid-way between Irmo and Lexington) would create a massive reservoir about 41 miles long and 14 miles wide at its widest point.    The plan was approved on July 8, 1927 by the U.S. Army Chief of Engineers.   Although there were many engineers involved in the massive project, William S. Murray was the most influential.  The South Carolina General Assembly named the new lake, Lake Murray, in Murray's honor.  The project was effectively completed on December 1, 1930 with the first delivery of hydro-electric power to Duke Power Company.


And, a newspaper report from August 4, 1930 stated that "Lake Murray, as that tremendous storage reservoir is know, was named by an act of the general assembly of the state of South Carolina, in honor of that distinguished engineer, William S. Murray, whose foresight, vision and tireless energy were responsible for the launching of the project."

Note the error in The New York Times obituary of January 10, 1942:
"... and in 1927-30 they engineered hyrdoelectric development of the Saluda River in North Carolina.  This project included the erection of a huge dam, which formed a lake at one point 14 miles wide which the state of North Carolina named Lake Murray in honor of the engineer."   Of course, Lake Murray is in central South Carolina.

Mel Coker on Lake Murray
Mr. Murray's work in the 1920s and early 1930s related to this new hydro-electric power reservoir is greatly  appreciated today.   Last year, Lake Murray was named one of the Top Ten Lakes in the United States for Boating and Living.

Mel Coker
Lake Murray Resident and Realtor
Lake Murray Real Estate
Mel's Lake Murray Website

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