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Livin' la Vida Lacy - Evening hike with history
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“Three generations, a grandmother, granddaughter and great-granddaughter entered the woods one sunny evening. Darkness fell and they were never seen again. One bloodline instantly lost forever.” 

I bet I uttered a lengthy variation of this 10 times while hiking with Zo and Grandma. Zoe loves a good ghost story and began to add her own spin to the tale, but I noticed she walked closer to me as the sun began to set. 

Our trip to Twin Falls in Rock Island was spontaneous on Saturday. We didn’t head that direction until 4:30 p.m. but it was a perfect day for hiking – sunny and cool. We did the downstream trail for the sake of time, which is almost two miles roundtrip. The terrain is dirt, overgrown roots, rocky steps and creeks featuring waterfalls, beautiful views of the river and high cliffs.

The trail head is just down a couple of flight of stairs. Before starting our hike, I captured a Boomerang of Zoe jumping in front of the falls. It took us about an hour to complete the hike and we took our time. Going around the loop was a little confusing, but we found two buckeye nuts, which is considered a good luck charm.

Once we got home, Uncle Marc shared the history of Twin Falls with us. Twin Falls is not a natural waterfall; it is a byproduct of the damming of the Caney Fork River and the powerhouse. Apparently, Great Falls began operations in January of 1917 as a premier project of the Tennessee Electric Power Company. It was purchased 22 years later by TVA.

According to TVA’s website, here’s how the Great Falls works. Though the dam and its powerhouse are built on the Caney Fork, the water that drives the turbines is drawn from the Collins River, which travels by means of dual 650-foot long steel penstocks drilled though the mountain between the two bodies of water. So strong is the pull when the generators are running that the water on the Collins can temporarily flow backwards. The dam itself is merely for flood control, and spills a lot of water during rain events.

Uncle Marc explained that Great Falls was an engineering marvel when it was built. Another thing that makes the facility unique is the turbines at Great Falls are air-cooled. Most other dams are cooled by mechanical means.

Here are a few other interesting facts about Great Falls Dam:

• The dam is located on the Caney Fork at river mile 91.1, immediately downstream from mouth of Collins River in Warren and White counties.

• The dam is 92 feet high and stretches 800 feet across the Caney Fork River, a tributary to the Cumberland River.

• The reservoir is 22 miles long and has 120 miles of winding shoreline and about 1,830 acres of water surface.

• Great Falls Dam is a hydroelectric facility. It has two generating units with a net dependable capacity of 36 megawatts. 

So, if you’ve never been, go for a relaxing hike and enjoy the falls along with a piece of dam history.

Standard reporter Lacy Garrison can be reached at 473-2191.