Cool Facts

Dale Hollow Dam and Lake is known for:

  • Authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938
  • While Fishing Dale Hollow Lake on the Tennessee/Kentucky Line, July 8 1955 David Hayes, Litchfield, Ky., caught the biggest smallmouth bass of his life. He brought it to a nearby marina which weighed the catch at 11 pounds, 15 ounces. and measured it at 27 inches long with a 21.5 inch girth.

David Hayes of Litchfield, Ky., holds his record smallmouth bass caught July 8, 1955


  • Second largest wintering Eagle population in the state of Tennessee & Kentucky

Eagle on a tree limb


Construction Footage

Dam & Powerhouse Footage

Historical Industry Film


Dale Hollow Dam under constructionDale Hollow Dam and Lake was authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938 and the River and Harbor Act of 1946. The project was completed for flood control in 1943. Power generating units were added in 1948, 1949 and 1953. The project was designed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and built by private contractors under the supervision of the Corps. The dam, powerplant and reservoir are operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District.


Dale Hollow Dam is located approximately three miles east of Celina, Tennessee on the Obey River, 7.3 miles above its juncture with the Cumberland River at river mile 380.0. Dale Hollow Lake covers portions of Clay, Pickett, Overton and Fentress Counties in Tennessee and Clinton and Cumberland Counties in Kentucky. The project consists of 27,700 surface acres of water and 24,842 acres of surrounding land.

The dam provides hydropower and supports its other intended purposes such as flood risk reduction, water supply, environmental stewardship, and outdoor recreation. The Nashville District designed Dale Hollow Dam and Morrison-Knudsen, private contractors under the supervision of the Corps, built the dam.  The Corps awarded the contract Dec. 30, 1941 and mobilization, clearing and construction of roadways and support structures began immediately.  Construction of the dam began March 2, 1942.  With sister construction of civil works projects suspended due to war, Dale Hollow Dam was rushed to completion on Oct. 20, 1943, but discontinued construction of the powerhouse.  


The Corps fully impounded Dale Hollow Lake May 7, 1944.  Work on the power house resumed in July 1946.  Three Francis turbines were installed in December 1948, January 1949 and November 1953.  Each unit generates 18,000 kilowatts for a total of 54,000 kilowatts, enough power to electrify a community of 45,000 and provide support to the national grid. 

The dam impounds a length of 61 miles of the Obey River creating Dale Hollow Lake with 620 miles of shoreline, 27,700 acres of water, and 24,842 acres of land for recreational opportunities.

Dale Hollow Dam Construction Information

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Associated Work:  The work listed above is all that is covered by this report; however, as an integral part of the entire project, it was necessary that other work be done within the reservoir concurrently with construction of the dam.  The necessary lands were purchased, timber and improvement removed from the areas below the elevation of the top of the crest gates, bridges removed and, where needed, relocated, telephone and transmission lines removed or relocated, cemeteries removed, and other incidental work performed.

Dale Hollow Dam Access Road Jan. 29, 1942  Dale Hollow Dam Access Road Jan. 29, 1942 

Awarding of Contract: The contract for the construction of the dam and appurtenant structures was of the negotiated unit price type.  Four firms presented bids for the work in late December 1941.  The Morrison-Knudsen Company, offering the most reasonable unit prices and presenting evidence that it was able to meet the expedited construction program, was awarded the contract.  Owing to delays in final approval of the contract, however, the first day of contract time was set as March 2, 1942.

Dale Hollow Dam Contractor Camp March 17, 1942 
 Dale Hollow Dam site July 20, 1942

Cement:  All cement for this job was furnished by the Government and was shipped from the following locations under a prime contract with the Lehigh Cement Company:  Lehigh Portland Cement Company-Mitchell, Indiana; Alpha Portland Cement Company-LaSalle, Illinois; Alpha Portland Cement Company-Ironton, Ohio; and Pennsylvania-Dixie Cement Company-Richard City, Tennessee. 

The cement, some of which was in bags, but mostly in bulk, was shipped by rail to Algood, Tennessee.  Here the bulk cement was unloaded from the tank cars by special conveyors into two weather-proof silos, having a capacity of 300 barrels each.  From these silos, the cement was loaded by gravity into specially constructed, weather-proof tank trucks, each having a capacity for 50 barrels.  A fleet of 14 of these trucks was used to haul the cement.  The distance from the railhead prior to destruction of the construction bridge across the Obey River was 35 miles, but following the flood in December 1942 the distance was increased to about 43 miles.  At the dam site, the cement was dumped from the trucks into an enclosed unloading hopper, from which it was pumped into weather-proof silos located alongside the mixing plant.  Bag cement was hauled by truck to the dam site and stored in a weather-proof building having a capacity of about 4,000 bags.

Close-up of bridge downstream for left bank access road at Dale Hollow Dam April 7, 1942  Gravel hopper where material is brought from conveyor belt at Dale Hollow Dam may 12, 1942 
 Concrete mixing plant on the right bank at Dale Hollow Dam June 12, 1942  Buckets used for hauling and pouring concrete taken at Dale Hollow Dam June 26, 1942

Cemetery Relocation: The cemeteries removed were either directly affected by water or made inaccessible, such as, being entirely surrounded but not covered or covered on one or more sides and without logical approach from the main-land.

The policy of relocating the cemeteries in the pool area was to move individual cemeteries as a unit to a site previously selected by trustees or nearest of kin to those buried within cemeteries being considered. In reviewing this policy it was found that this would be a costly and lengthy process, inasmuch as suitable small locations could not be found on improved roads nearby disinterment cemeteries. In contemplating a new policy it was found that not more than eight reinterment cemetery sites were necessary for all removals in the area. These sites were on improved roads and in no case at an excessive distance from disinterment cemeteries. This new plan was presented to interested people and was immediately accepted when all the advantages of the new plan were explained.

The entire area is more or less rugged and inaccessible during rainy seasons because of the many unimproved roads. This necessitated the establishment of numerous small cemeteries which served one or more families depending upon the density of the population. The immediate above required exhaustive rechecking by the cemetery inspectors to make sure that no cemeteries would be missed. Inspectors were required to conduct investigations with owners or tenants of all tracts involved in the pool. This, or course, was necessary because of the many old and forgotten cemeteries. When a cemetery was located a photograph of the site was taken by the inspectors and by use of stakes, the known or questionable graves were numbered consecutively and the entire area plotted on cross-section paper.

The method of obtaining information which was touched upon in paragraph 1 (contacting next of kin) proved to be a satisfactory approach to the problem at hand. The peculiarities of the people includes the reluctance to divulge information to strangers and at no time is information offered without it being asked for. However, through insistent efforts on the part of the inspectors every cemetery in the locality was definitely located. It can be said, however, that aforementioned peculiarities caused the original estimate of number of graves to be approximately 10 percent greater than the actual number of graves found.

The number of graves estimated to be within the area was 2,500. There were an additional 217 unmarked graves found beyond those identified for a total number of graves found and relocated at 2,283.

The cemeteries were found to be in unkept condition and very disorganized, that is, the bodies were not placed in straight lines or kept in groups. This was caused by use of friends and neighbors to dig the graves, and, of course, not much thought was given to the location of the grave other than that the spot selected was likely to be easily excavated.

The first work done by the contractor was to dig the necessary graves in the reinternment cemeteries to take care of graves to be moved.

These shelters were removed from above the graves and placed aside to be transported to the reinternment site at a later date. In the process of removing these houses from the graves the extreme dilapidated condition caused them to fall apart, making it practically impossible to place them over the new graves. The Government furnished new materials and the contractor constructed new houses to be placed over the graves in the reinternment cemetery.

Cemetery information from NARRATIVE, Dale Hollow Dam and Reservoir Project, Obey River, Tennessee, War Department, Real Estate Branch, Columbus, Ohio

Young Cemetery Church of Christ Cemetery
McMillan Cemetery Chowning Cemetery
Harvey Cemetery Martin Cemetery
Arney Cemetery Willow Grove Cemetery
Goodpasture Cemetery Sidwell Cemetery
Webb Cemetery Webb Cemetery


Cofferdams and Closure:  Control of the Obey River for excavation and concrete operations was accomplished in two stages.  In the first stage operation, a timber crib made from 12” by 12” Douglas fir timber obtained from West Coast sources was constructed parallel to the course of the river at the Monolith 22-23 contraction joint.  The crib was filled with rock from the excavation and was sealed on the water face with two layers of shiplap with roofing paper between.  At each end, earth fills were built to tie into the south abutment.  The first stage cofferdam was so constructed that such portions as were required for second stage construction were sealed on both sides; thus, when the second stage dam was built no additional work was required on these sections.  The flow was carried within the normal channel during this stage.

The second stage cofferdam was also a combination earth fill and rock filled timber crib, and was extended far enough downstream to allow for construction of the powerhouse and retaining wall.  After closing eh second cofferdam, the stream was diverted through three monoliths left low for that purpose. Several high water periods were withstood by the second stage cofferdam although it was once overtopped in the last week of December 1942.  As this time the water rose nearly 10 feet above the top of the cofferdam and remained above the crest for more than a week.

The cofferdams were kept unwatered by a means of one 2,500 g.p.m. deep well pump with occasional additional pumping as required.

Final river closure was accomplished against an approximate 4,000 cubic feet per second flow, by driving an earth fill across the diversion channel above the dam and trestle.  Two attempts were required to effect this closure, which was finally made by dropping needle beams in front of the opening in the dam to check the flow of the water, which allowed the earth fill to be completed across the channel. 

The permanent closure structure consisted of a reinforced concrete bulkhead.  The bulkhead was supported on massive concrete abutments set on rock and projecting several feet into the closure monolith.
 Inside view of wall of timber crib cofferdam at Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River April 28, 1942 View looking northeast showing wooden crib earth filled cofferdam under construction at Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River March 17, 1942 

Bulldozer works on right bank access road Jan. 29, 1942 from Dale Hollow Dam toward highway to Celina, Tenn.Equipment:  Equipment composed of those items which have a definite salvage value.  The job admittedly had too much equipment for normal operations, but his was necessary in order to meet expedited schedules.  The contractor’s books showed that he had $1,132,780.07 in major equipment (defined as that costing over $1,500) and $158,797.36 in minor equipment, or a total of $1,291,577.43 in both.  In addition, he had several thousand dollars in small tools, which were of low cost or which probably would be entirely expended on the job.

A group of five fixed compressors to supply air for all purposes was installed, and in addition there were two portable units, the contractor also had the usual auxiliary construction equipment, such as service trucks, pick-ups, saws, welders, drills, jointers, presses, lathes, generators, pumps, hammers, motors, etc.  In addition to the equipment belonging directly to the contractor, the sub-contractors furnished all of their own equipment.

Work continues on access road toward Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River Jan. 29, 1942  Offices and garage at camp site of Morrison-Knudsen Company, the contractors for Dale Hollow Dam on Obey River Feb. 26, 1942 
 Caterpillar and patrol cutting slope of access road to Dale Hollow Dam Jan. 29, 1942  Crane moving heavy equipment for Dale Hollow Dam on Obey River April 28, 1942

Excavation:  Common excavation for the dam and tailrace presented no problems out of the ordinary, except that it was done at a time of year when the weather was decidedly unfavorable.  The excavation was carried out in the early stages by means of cats and scrapers and by dragline, the haul roads being too soft at that time for the use of trucks. For the most part material from the south abutment was pushed down hill by means of a bulldozer where it was picked up and loaded into either trucks or scrapers or both.  A large portion of the materials excavated during the early stages was placed in the earth fill cofferdams upstream and downstream from the excavated area.

Common excavation on the hillsides above the floor of the valley was very light, especially on the south side where on a large area there was only about a foot of cover over the rock and in some places the rock outcropped.  In such areas the excavation of common material was disregarded and the material was excavated with the rock.  On the north side of the river the thickness varied up to a maximum of about five feet.  Excavation in this area was subcontracted to the Oman Construction Company who did the work with scrapers.

Common excavation for the spillway and tailrace was done during the summer and fall of 1942 except in the area occupied by the second stage cofferdam.  Average depth of excavation in this area varied from twenty to thirty five feet with almost no boulders.  Excavation of this area outside the second stage cofferdam was by means of dragline while within the cofferdam and for removal of the cofferdam a shovel was used.

Rock excavation for the dam and powerhouse was, of course, carried on simultaneously with the common excavation.  The material excavated was for the most part a limestone, though a small amount of shale was encountered high on the right abutment.  The rock excavation proceeded in a normal manner in the main operation.

Blasting against the line drilled faces which were to form the final foundation was done with black powder to reduce cracking and shattering of the rock.  Electric blasting caps were used exclusively as detonators throughout the entire job.  Powder consumption averaged about nine-tenths pound per cubic yard which in view of the several thousand cubic yards of rock excavated by hand methods indicated consumption of about one pound per cubic yard for the portion of the rock excavation removed by drilling and blasting.

All the heavy excavation in both first and second stage cofferdams was handled by 2 ½ cubic yard shovels and 10 cubic yard Euclid trucks. 

Excavation for the powerhouse was carried on simultaneously with that for the dam and cofferdam No. 2.

Government Field Office and Organization:  A temporary field office was opened in the rear of the Maxey Hotel in Celina, Tennessee on Jan. 12, 1942.  Since office equipment could not be secured immediately, some crude benches and tables were constructed as a temporary expedient.  A few weeks later additional space was secured in another building that had been used by the Geology Section on preliminary investigations.

Col. Hubert Elder, resident engineer at the Dale Hollow Dam construction project on the Obey River June 26, 1942The construction office at the dam site was established March 13, 1942, in a building erected under the contract agreement.  A telephone through the Celina exchange provided questionable communication until three through trunk lines to its Cookeville Exchange were constructed some four weeks later by the Southern Continental Telephone Company.  Although this latter connection was a decided improvement over its predecessor, at no time during the job was it entirely satisfactory, or dependable. 

Work on Dale Hollow Project was initiated and organized by Mr. C. H. Wagner, an engineer experienced in dam construction, who was obtained by transfer from the Pittsburgh Engineer District.  Work had been started on Center Hill Dam, also under the direction of Mr. Wagner, but on April 6, 1942, Mr. H.B. Elder was transferred from the Office, Chief of Engineers as Resident Engineer at Dale Hollow Project.  All of Mr. Wagner’s time was required at Center Hill.

The Dale Hollow Project was no different from other construction jobs that were started during the first few months after Pearl Harbor as far as the problem of obtaining trained and competent personnel was concerned. Although it was impossible to obtain an experienced organization, one was made up by hiring local residents with no experience and a few individuals from nearby communities with highway survey experience, supplemented by a few trained supervisors loaned from the Wolf Creek Project.  In that manner the layout of the dam was started.

General construction and concrete inspectors were equally hard to locate.  A fair picture of the difficulties encountered and the close supervision required is evidenced by the fact that an approximate 100% turnover was effected during the course of construction.  Peek employment by the Government of approximately 80 men was reached during September 1942 and remained fairly constant for several months thereafter.  A total of 145 different men was employed from the beginning of construction. Before the general reduction in force towards completion of the project, 10 men had been discharged unconditionally, 25 resigned, 15 were transferred, and 19 were either inducted into or volunteered for military service.

A civilian guard organization was established as a protective measure.  Small guard houses were built at each of the three access road entrances to the project with guards on duty 24 hours daily.  All automobiles were stopped as they entered the limits of the project proper in order that the guard on duty might visually inspect the occupants’ identification.  All Government employees were furnished regular Department identification badges, while the contractor’s men had badges with numbers inscribed as a means of identification.  Accredited visitors such as salesmen, vendors, etc., were furnished printed passes and persons desiring access on infrequent cases, such as visitors to the camp hospital, were allowed entrance after being given a mimeographed pass slip which had to be returned, signed by an authorized contractor or Government representative, to the guard on duty upon the bearer’s exit.  In addition guards were stationed during the night shifts at the diesel generating plants as a protection against fires as well as sabotage.  (Organization chart on page 6 of document shows personnel required at the project dated June 1, 1943 and the associated costs)

 Electrical warehouse and electric machine shop at Dale Hollow Dam Feb. 26, 1942  Close-up view of man welding high pressure air lines at Dale Hollow Dam April 7, 1942

Government Furnished Power Plant:  Owing to the inability of the Tennessee Valley Authority to furnish the power needed for construction, it was necessary for the Department to arrange for its own system.  IN order to start the work without delay, three Rural Electrification Authority mobile generating units, with a combined capacity of 390 K.W., were obtained in March 1942.  These three units, Nos. 6, 9, and 17 were in operation continually until Aug. 13, 1942, when unit no. 17 was disconnected and removed from the premises.  On Sept. 1, 1942, No. 6 and 9 were discontinued and removed from the premises.  In all, these three units produced 583,510 K.W.H. of electrical energy. 

View of mobile power generating units and transformer control station at Dale Hollow Dam site March 17, 1942Through the medium on Change Order No.1, the contractor agreed to install and operate for the Government a fixed diesel generating plant.  Accordingly, on April 18, 1942, excavation began for the erection of the first unit, a Buckeye obtained from L.B. Smith & Co., Camp Hill, PA.  Concrete was poured for the foundation on April 22, 1942 and erection was completed and it was placed in operation on April 30, 1942.  The building over the unit was begun April 24 and was completed May 3, 1942.

As work on the project progressed, the demand for power increased, and on May 12, 1942 excavation was begun for the erection of three Nordberg Diesel electric generating units which were purchased by the district from the Phelps-Dodge Corporation, Douglas, Arizona.  The pouring of concrete for the bases of these units began on May 23, 1942.  The first Nordberg arrived on May 31 and was assembled and placed in operation by July 11, 1942.  The second unit was placed in operation Aug. 9, 1942, and the third unit Sept. 2, 1942.  The building over the Nordberg units was begun on Oct. 16, 1942 and was completed in Dec. 5, 1942.

The four units (three Nordbergs and one Buckeye) still were not enough to supply the demand.  It was necessary, therefore, to transfer three Atlas units from Center Hill Dam which had had a similar Diesel installation, but by then had obtained TVA power.  The first of these units arrived at Dale Hollow Dam Oct. 16.  The foundation for this unit was started Oct. 29 and it was placed in operation Nov. 11, 1942.  The second Atlas unit arrived Nov. 16 and the third unit on Nov. 19.  Excavation for the base of the last two began on Nov. 20 and they were placed in operation Nov. 30 and Dec. 1, 1942, respectively.  Work on the building, which was joined to the Buckeye building on the north side, began Nov. 23 and was completed Dec. 5, 1942. 

The total cost of installing and operating the units for the entire job amounted to $439,182.62, of which $160,331.12 was for erection and $278,851.50 for operation.  These figures do not include any of the capital investment on the equipment.  The United States, in turn, charged back to the contractor $52,650.67 for the 9,464,983 kilowatt-hours of energy generated.  The difference in costs is large, but the expenditures were essential for the successful prosecution of the work. 
View of installation of transformers on right bank of Dale Hollow Dam site April 7, 1942   View of electric power equipment for Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River May 12, 1942
 Flood lights on top of left bank at Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River May 12, 1942. Lights used for night work on dam  Large diesel generator being installed July 7, 1942 to furnish electric power for machinery and lights at Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River
Layout:  Layout work began Jan. 13, 1942.  The axis was established from coordinates off Monument A on the right bank and Monument B on the left bank of the river.  The monuments had been previously set by the District Survey Section.  A like procedure was followed to establish precise control on the powerhouse as was used on the dam.

Timber on right bank near axis of Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River Dec. 21, 1941  Survey parties are seen on Dale Hollow Dam access road Jan. 29, 1942 
 View of left bank showing men at work excavating for foundation of Dale Hollow Dam April 7, 1942  View looking across axis of Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River May 12, 1942
 View from left bank showing base of Dale Hollow Dam in progress of construction Aug. 3, 1942  The completed Dale Hollow Dam and power plant in January 1949
General view of Dale Hollow Dam site from left abutment on Obey River July 20, 1941. Concrete spillway bucket section and foundation have been poured, trestle with hammerhead cranes appear near center view, and excavation for diversion channel of river is shown at right

Location of Project:  The Dale Hollow Dam was constructed across the Obey River 7.3 miles above its mouth in Clay County, Tennessee. 

Authority: The Dale Hollow Dam Reservoir was authorized by an Act of Congress and approved June 28, 1958, which is generally referred to as the Flood Control Act of 1938.
Dale Hollow Dam, Mile 7.3, Dec. 21, 1941
 Dale Hollow Dam site Jan. 14, 1942 Dale Hollow Dam site Jan. 14, 1942 
 Dale Hollow Dam site Jan. 14, 1942  Dale Hollow Dam site Jan. 14, 1942
 Dale Hollow Dam site Jan. 14, 1942  Dale Hollow Dam site Jan. 14, 1942. Looking east showing front of garage on James W. Terry property.
 Dale Hollow Dam site Jan. 14, 1942. Looking northwest showing south and east sides of privy on James W. Terry property  

Metal Work:  

Penstocks -The three large penstocks are for the main power units while a small penstock will be used for the station service unit.  Material for the three large units was furnished by Bethlehem Steel Company, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  This material was shipped to the site in semi-circular sections. Assembly was made in the field by Teleweld, Inc., using electric arc welding machines.  The sections were then placed in position by the hammerhead cranes and welded together. 

Intake Gates-Two Broome gates for the penstocks were manufactured for the Government by Philips and Davies, Inc., Kenton, Ohio and were installed by the contractor.   The gate frame sections were lowered to the intake elevation and assembled, care being exercised in their operation to see that all seals matched perfectly and were true to line and elevation.  No bulkheads were necessary upstream since the water in the reservoir was approximately twelve feet below the intake floor elevation.  After the gate, rollers, and guard plates were assembled on the inspection platform into one complete unit, it was lowered into position. 

The station service gate was also fabricated by Philips and Davies, and was placed in the same manner as the large gates; however lowering operation to the intake elevation were comparatively simple.

Crest Gates-Six tainter gates for the spillway crest were manufactured by Virginia Bridge Co., for the Government, and installed by the prime contractor.  The gates were radial in design and were twelve feet high and sixty feet long.  At the time of delivery of these gates all concreting operations were completed for the spillway bridge and it was necessary to set the gates from the bridge by swinging them over the side and under the bridge floor. 

Other Metal Work-All reinforcing steel for the dam and powerhouse substructure was placed in accordance with the contract plans.  The McCarthy-Jones and Woodard Company, Nashville, Tennessee, furnished the majority of the steel.  Towards the latter part of the job the Morrison-Knudsen Company bought the steel direct from Ceco, Birmingham, Alabama, and employed a reinforcing engineer to supervise the installation. 

Following cessation of construction on the Center Hill Dam in March 1943, considerable steel was available from the surplus stocks at that project.  In order to reduce this surplus, the Government furnished approximately 50,000 pounds of bars and deducted their cost under a supplemental agreement. 
 Construction Penstocks  Scroll Cage
 Workers raise the main bearing in hydropower unit one at Dale Hollow Dam Oct. 20, 1948  

Mobilization by Contractor:  Upon being given notice to proceed with construction of the dam, the Morrison-Knudsen Company established an office in Cookeville, Tennessee, where there was available space and adequate telephone and housing facilities.  He made a survey of the local housing situation near the dam and found that there were no adequate accommodations for the personnel required; hence, he was forced to construct a rather elaborate camp for the size of the job. 

Diesel powered shovel clears Dale Hollow Dam site access road on Winnie Johnson's propertyIn order to accommodate the heavy hauling, he reinforced all of the bridges between the railhead at Algood and the dam site and brought in materials and equipment and started building access roads.  Under the original agreement he was to have built a new bridge across the Obey near Celina to withstand heavier and wider loads than could have been carried by the existing bridge but this bridge was eliminated in favor of a 2 mile access road from the Livingston-Celina Highway and the construction of a low-level bridge across the Obey River at the dam site.  This reduced the haulage distance about 8 miles and saved many miles of travel before the bridge was destroyed by flood. 

The contractor moved on to the site Jan. 12, 1942 and started construction of his office, bunk house, mess hall and other buildings.  On Jan. 16, 1942 Oman Construction Company of Nashville moved in his equipment and started work on the north access road and on Jan. 17 the Morrison-Knudsen Company started pioneering the south access roadway with bull dozers and heavy shovels.  Work on the camp continued during this time in spite of heavy rain and mud.

The first shipment of trestle steel was received on 28 January 1942, while other heavy equipment and supplies continued to arrive steadily.  A quarry was opened on Feb. 6, 1942 at an old state highway site one mile south of Celina by Tobin Quarries for necessary rock for the access and camp roads.  The first contract work was started on 9 February 1942 with the clearing and stripping of the north abutment.  A week later excavation for the mixing plant was started.  By the middle of March 1942 a considerable portion of the heavy equipment was on the site and excavation for cofferdams and stream diversion and on the north and south abutments was well under way. 

On Feb. 26, 1942 construction was started by the Bardstown Transfer Company on the quarry access road and was completed about the middle of April 1942.  This road followed the approximate alignment of an existing county road, with the rights-of-way furnished by the Clay County Highway Commissioners.  The supplying of aggregates was sub-contracted to Lambert Brothers, Knoxville, Tennessee.  This company started construction on March 10, 1942, and the clearing of the main quarry site on March 18, 1942.

Concurrently with construction of the camp layout, work was started about March 1, 1942 on such construction facilities as the compressor plant, aggregate storage yard, conveyors, pumping plants, water tanks, trestle, concrete plant, derricks, etc.  This work continued and by June 2, 1942 the first bucket of concrete was placed in Monolith 2 using a Rex Dual Drum Paver and the Lima Dragline for the operation.  Placing continued by this method until July 11, 1945 when the large mixing plant was placed in regular operation.  By this time the camp and construction facilities were practically complete and further operation were devoted to the construction of the dam. 

At the start of construction, the Morrison-Knudsen Company entered into an agreement with the Nashville Building and Trade Council, and American Federation of Labor Affiliate, for the furnishing of all labor for the project.  The union wage rates were in conformity with the determination of the U.S. Department of Labor as incorporated in the specifications for the dam.  Although the supply of skilled labor at times was not entirely adequate, the union representatives apparently made every effort to fulfill their contract and no strikes or labor troubles of any kind were experienced on the job. The peak employment was reached in July 1942 when approximately 1,200 persons were at the project, 950 of whom were skilled or unskilled personnel furnished through the union and the reminder supervisory and Engineer Department employees.  This employment figure remained practically constant through December 1942, then gradually lessened throughout the remainder of the job.

 Temporary bridge across Obey River at Dale Hollow Dam site Feb. 26, 1942. Warehouse No. 2 used by Morrison-Knudsen Company contractors at Dale Hollow Dam on the Obey River Feb. 26, 1942 
 Paymaster's Office at camp site of Morrison-Knudsen Company, contractors for the Dale Hollow Dam project on Obey River Feb. 26, 1942  View of Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River April 7, 1942
 Right bank access road at axis of Dale Hollow Dam April 7, 1942  Trestle for placing concrete at Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River April 28, 1942
 General view of temporary buildings for contractors and workers building Dale Hollow Dam on the Obey River May 12, 1942  Cooks prepare and serve pudding at the contractor camp
Powerhouse:  Under the original construction plan, it was proposed to build the dam and powerhouse concurrently.  The work which was to have been done on the latter by the Morrison-Knudsen Company consisted of all foundation excavation and preparation, placement of the concrete for the substructure and superstructure, installation of draft tube gates and bulkheads, draft tube unwatering and station drainage systems, and installation of the systems for transformer fire protection, generator cooling water, treated water, raw water, sewage disposal, lubricating oil, transil oil, ventilating, air conditioning, compressed air, and carbon dioxide fire protection.  An elevator was to have been installed, the power and control cable tunnels constructed, switchyard structures placed, and driveways and drains constructed to connect with the existing dam system. 

“There was hope when war began anew in 1941 that the three multipurpose projects authorized in the Upper Cumberland Basin-Wolf Creek, Dale Hollow, and Center Hill-would be rushed to completion by 1944, because of the power they would produce, but when the full impact of the titanic military effort was felt by the Engineers in 1942 these hopes were frustrated.  The exigencies of global war made manpower, materials, and construction equipment critical to the defense effort, and the Engineers suspended construction on civil works as soon as it could be safety accomplished.  The Wolf Creek project, about three percent completed, and the Center Hill project, about eight percent completed, were suspended for the duration of the war.  Since the Dale Hollow Dam on the Obey River was about nineteen percent completed, the dam was rushed to completion, but construction of the power generating facilities was discontinued. “ 1

“Despite poor weather, a severe flood in late 1942 which damaged construction facilities, and a critical shortage of practically everything, Dale Hollow Dam was brought to essential completion.  It was thus ready for use when a destructive flood raged down the valley in the spring of 1945, and it was the first reservoir in District history to be credited with the reduction of flood damages.” 1

Work on the power house resumed in July 1946.  Three Francis turbines were installed in December 1948, January 1949 and November 1953.  Each unit generates 18,000 kilowatts for a total of 54,000 kilowatts, enough power to electrify a community of 45,000 and provide support to the national grid.
Dale Hollow Power Plant is under construction June 24, 1947   Installation of the shaft and runner in hydropower unit one is in progress Nov. 27, 1947
 View of Dale Hollow Dam Power House under construction May 3, 1946  The rotor is being lowered into its final position in hydropower unit one in the Dale Hollow Dam Power House May 3, 1046
 View of completed Dale Hollow Dam & Power House Dec. 31, 1948  Interior of completed Dale Hollow Dam Power House April 11, 1949

Principle Mixing PlantThe principle mixing plant was located about 125 feet upstream from the north end of the dam and at the north end of the construction trestle.  The top level of the plant contained seven bins, one of 750-barrel capacity for cement and five of 250-ton capacity each for sand and four sizes of coarse aggregate.  The seventh bin of 125-ton capacity was originally provided for any admixture that might be used, but since none was required, this bin served merely as a spare and was rarely used. 

On the next level below the bins the batchers were located.  These were C.S. Johnson automatic weigh batchers, electrically controlled from a central board.  There was a batcher for the sand, cement, water, and each of the four sizes of coarse aggregate.   Each batcher had five beans so that five different mixes could be set up and controlled by the operator at the control board.

On the same level with batchers was located the batch control room.  Here one operator handled all batching operations by manipulation of the electrical controls.  From his position at the board he had a view of all the batchers.  Colored lights on the control board indicated the progress of batching operations.  A speaking tube provided communication with the mixer operator and a telephone provided communication with the construction trestle and with the crews and inspectors in the forms where concrete placing was in progress. 

The mixers themselves were located on the next level below the batchers.  There were four tilting-type Koehring mixers, arranged radially so that when tilted they discharged into a single central cone.  This radial arrangement permitted charging of the mixers through a central “turn head” which could be revolved into position and “clamped” to whichever mixer it was desired to charge. 

Mixing time was 2 ½ minutes, and the mechanism was so interlocked that concrete could not be discharged until the expiration of this period. 

One mixer operator, stationed at a control board with a clear view of all mixers, controlled all mixer operations by manipulation of electrical controls on his board. 

Underneath the mixing plant, at trestle level, was a standard gage track on which the concrete trains pulled by dinkey engines operated.  When the dinkey operator had spotted the train so that a concrete bucket was directly beneath the discharge cone, a signal was given to the mixer operator and the concrete was discharged through the cone into the bucket and thence transported to the forms.
Concrete mixing plant and cement silos at Dale Hollow Dam on Obey River July 7, 1942  Night view of concrete mixing plant at Dale Hollow Dam on Obey River July 20, 1942 

Progress of Work:  The weather during the mobilization period was unusually severe and caused almost a month’s delay in the start of operations; the long haul from the railhead and this inability to secure proper deliveries of materials owing to war restriction hampered progress and the labor situation was never fully satisfactory.  Both skilled and unskilled labor were of rather inferior caliber as the more competent were being diverted to other vital areas.

Transportation presented a very real problem.  The workmen experienced considerable difficulty in obtaining adequate facilities to bring them to work and even the contractor at one time could not secure tires for his hauling equipment and was forced to call upon the Department for help. 

Probably the greatest delay to the work, however, was caused by the severe flood of Dec. 28, 1942 to Jan. 6, 1943 which destroyed part of the construction trestle and the access bridge below the dam, and caused an estimated direct damage of over $150,000.

In spite of all the delaying factors and the addition of work not included in original agreement and for which no additional contract time was allowed, the Morrison-Knudsen company was able to complete its contract and turn over an acceptable structure to the Government Oct. 20, 1943.

Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River March 17, 1942
 Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River Feb. 26, 1942  Dale Hollow Dam site Feb. 26, 1942
 Foot bridge at Dale Hollow Dam site on Obey River March 17, 1942  

Quarry Operations:  The geology section of the Nashville District Office conducted explorations at several different sites in the vicinity of the dam to locate a quarry from which suitable rock for concrete aggregates could be obtained.  A site was finally chosen by the contractor on Pea Ridge about seven and one half miles north of the dam site.  The stone was a fine to coarse grey crystalline limestone from the St. Louis and Warsaw formations.

 The quarry operations were subcontracted to Lambert Bros., Inc. of Knoxville, Tennessee, and preliminary work was started in March 1942. The blasted rock removed from the quarry was transported to the primary crushers by trucks.  Here it was broken down and was carried by belt conveyor to the rotary screens where it was separated into sizes.  As the aggregates were separated into the four sizes by the screening process, they fed by gravity to wooden bins located beneath the screens.  From these bins, the aggregates fed again by gravity into dump trucks, which hauled them either to stock piles at the quarry or to the stock piles at the dam site.  The average production from two crushing plants for a 20 hour day was 5,000 tons.

Morrison-Knudsen Company subcontracted the hauling of aggregates from the quarry to the dame site to Dodds Construction Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee.  A fleet averaging 40 trucks, each having an overload capacity of 6 tons, and hauling for two ten hour shifts per day were used in this operation.

Crushed limestone being dumped into bunker to be conveyed to aggregate pile   Crushed limestone being conveyed to aggregate stock pile
 View of aggregate supply quarry Aug. 3, 1942  Crusher located at Dale Hollow Dam at quarry used to supply aggregate for concrete taken Aug. 3, 1942

Safety:  A safety program was maintained throughout the construction period with a resident safety inspector in charge.  In addition to the government inspector, the Zurich General Accident and Liability Insurance Company, who operated the hospital and carried the job compensation insurance for the prime contractor, retained a full time safety engineer who was responsible to his company and the contractor in seeing that no unsafe practices were tolerated.

Drilling holes for dynamite on the axis of Dale Hollow Dam April 28, 1942A safety carpenter was employed by the contractor to see that ladders, walkways and scaffolds were in a safe condition throughout the job.  Particular attention was given to orderliness and cleanliness of passageways and working areas, and in keeping electrical apparatus in good order.

No accidents occurred from the use of explosives during the entire construction period.  Both the Lambert Bros. Inc., sub-contractor at the quarry, and the prime contractor in his foundation work maintained a safe working organization in the use of explosives.  Separate magazines which were bullet proof, fire resistant and adequately ventilated, were provided for storage of explosive and detonators.  All handling of explosives were supervised by persons of proven experience and ability in their use. 

Fire extinguishers were provided in all camp buildings and fire hydrants, connected to the raw water supply system, were situated at locations to provide fire protection to the entire camp area.  The job was continually posted with appropriate danger signs and directions on machinery and equipment, in walkways and on ladders where they were easily visible to the workman.  Appropriate equipment such as hard hat, goggles, safety belts, life lines, life jackets and respirators, the use of which was mandatory, were furnished and maintained in a serviceable condition by the contractor.

Reports were prepared covering each lost time accident and submitted to the District Office.  Every effort was made to determine the cause of these accidents and to eliminate their recurrence.  However, in spite of the care taken in trying to maintain safe working practices, six fatalities were charged against the project. A truck driver was killed when his lumber truck plunged off the road on a curve on the mountainous road between Livingston and the dam; an oiler had his head crushed between the tracks and the cab of a Northwest Shovel; a form stripper missed his footing at the end of a catwalk and fell on his head onto the concrete; an iron worker pulled out a form bolt he was using as a ladder near the top of the intake bulkhead recess and fell to the bottom of the shaft; and two painters were crushed when the intake gate gratings on which they were working collapsed and fell upon them.  In addition another truck driver as he was coming off shift was drowned when crossing the Obey River below the dam on an overloaded raft.  Compensation as paid by the insurance company for this death but the accident was not charged against the project. 

As a whole, however, and in spite of the hazardous type of work involved in high dam construction, the contactor’s accident record was considered to be relatively good.  Out of a total of 3,681,196 man-hours, there were 72 lost time accidents with a total of 37,593 days chargeable.  This gave a frequency rate of 19.56 and a severity rate of 10.21.  The goal on frequency for contractor on this type of work has been set at 25.00, so the rate of 19.56 is considered acceptable.

The government personnel worked 278,958 man-hours with 4 injuries amounting to 46 days of lost time.  This gave a frequency of 14.34 and a severity of 0.16.  Forty-three of the lost time hours were caused by the wreck on March 2, 1942 of a government station wagon which ran off the then unprotected bluff road midway between the dam and Celina, Tennessee.  The car was completely demolished and three of the seven men riding therein required hospitalization.
Blasting on axis of Dale Hollow Dam April 28, 1942  Hospital with operating room at Dale Hollow Dam May 12, 1942 
 Steel trestle used during construction of Dale Hollow Dam May 26, 1942  Steel worker is lifted by stiff-leg derrick at Dale Hollow Dam June 26, 1942
 Clean up takes place to prepare for concrete placement at Dale Hollow Dam July 7, 1942  
The Rest of the Story:  “Since Dale Hollow Dam had been completed for flood control purposes before the suspension of construction in 1943, it was first of the three multipurpose projects in the Upper Cumberland Basin to be completed.  Flatboats, coal boats, and log-rafts had once navigated Obey River and its tributaries East Fork, West Fork, and Wolf River, and small steamboats had actually navigated the river as far upstream as Eastport at the juncture of East and West Fork, but this traffic had ended by 1940 and Dale Hollow Dam and Lake put the river to different uses.  The generating units at Dale Hollow (three of 18,000 kw each) began delivering power to the Southeastern Power Administration in late 1948, producing 93 million kilowatt hours during the fiscal year-the first hydroelectric power generated at an Engineer project in the Cumberland Valley.”1

“The historic Flood Control Act of 1944 defined national policies for the development of recreational facilities at Engineer projects and authorized construction, maintenance, and operation of parks and recreational facilities in reservoir areas.  Because this act recognized the value of the recreational benefits to be derived from Engineer reservoir projects, both Dale Hollow and Center Hill were credited with benefits not included in the original calculation of project benefits, and a precedent-setting reservoir management program was instituted at the two projects.  The program involved shoreline sanitation, malaria control, conservation and land management, and the operation and maintenance of public use facilities.  As early as 1954, Dale Hollow Lake was voted the ‘best fresh-water fishing spot’ in America by Fisherman magazine.”1

Today Dale Hollow is a vacation destination for camping, house boating, watersports, picnicking, swimming, sightseeing and relaxation.   The lake covers portions of Clay, Pickett, Overton and Fentress Counties in Tennessee and Clinton and Cumberland Counties in Kentucky. The project consists of 27,700 surface acres of water and 24,842 acres of surrounding land that are available for recreational enjoyment and sustainable conservation.  

Rustic forested hillsides and crystal clear waters welcome any outdoor enthusiast desiring water sports or a scenic get-a-way.  Premium lake front camping that can accommodate RVs and tents is available at Dale Hollow Damsite, Lillydale, Obey River and Willow Grove Campgrounds.  For those wanting a more secluded boat-in camping experience, Dale Hollow Lake offers primitive camping opportunities, which is a great option to get back to nature.  

Dale Hollow also offers 15 full-service commercial marinas, various lake access points for boat launching, an 18-mile horse and hiking trail at Red Oak Ridge, and Accoridian Bluff hiking trail that is a 7.6 mile trail connecting two beautiful water front campgrounds.

Dale Hollow Lake continues to be known as a world class fishery holding the top three catches in small mouth bass.  Dale Hollow also proudly shares that it has the second largest wintering eagle population in the states of Tennessee and Kentucky.
 Swimmers at Dale Hollow Lake in September 1948 Dale Hollow Dam in January 1949 
 Boat in slip  Camping Scene
 D.L. Hayes with his record Smallmouth Bass  Houseboat

Transportation of Aggregates from Stock Piles to Mixing Plant:  Underneath the entire aggregate stock pile area, along the center line of the piles, a tunnel with its floor about 10.5 feet below the ground surface and having inside dimensions of 7 1/2 feet wide by 8 1/2 feet high and length of about 900 feet, was constructed.  The sides and roof were constructed of 3 inch by 8 inch oak timbers.  Located underneath each stock pile were three intake gates spaced about 25 feet apart, which discharged the aggregate by gravity through the roof onto a 36 inch conveyor belt in the tunnel.  Beyond the limits of the stock piles, the belt conveyor was above the ground and led to the storage bins on top of the main mixing plant.

This aggregate conveyor system was electrically operated, and semiautomatic.  One operator, stationed at the mixing plant bins, by means of push buttons on a switchboard, could operate the belt conveyor, and open or close any intake gate in the system. Men stationed along the belt conveyor system patrolled the tunnel to see that the gates opened and closed property, and also checked on the condition of the stock piles to determine which of the three intake gates under each pile should be operated at any time material was to be withdrawn from that pile.  A two-way speaker system along the conveyor provided ready and easy means of communication between these men and the belt operator at the mixing plant.
 View of Dale Hollow Dam site of graded stock piles and conveyors May 26, 1942  Conveyor trustle from rock pile to concrete mixing plant at Dale Hollow Dam May 26, 1942
 View of aggregate pit at Dale Hollow Dam June 12, 1942  Crushed limestone being conveyed to aggregate stock pile at Dale Hollow Dam July 7, 1942
 General view of Dale Hollow Dam site from right bank abutment June 12, 1942

Trestle railroad & Cranes:  The standard gage railroad tracks on the trestle extended north from the end of the trestle to and beyond the mixing plant.  Over these tracks the dinkey trains operated, hauling concrete from the mixing plant to the hammerhead cranes on the construction trestle.  Each concrete train was pulled by a dinkey engine and consisted of a specially built railroad car constructed to transport five 4 ½ cubic yard concrete buckets.  Five of these concrete cars were available with three 10-ton Diesel-electric and two 5-ton Diesel powered dinkey engines.

The concrete buckets used on the dinkey trains were Blaw-Knox bottom-dump buckets.  These buckets were not always satisfactory, since the discharge opening was small as compared to the diameter of the bucket, and at time, particularly when the buckets were held on the trains for a few minutes, the concrete tended to stick in this restricted opening and slowed up placing operations. At such times it was necessary to hammer the sides of the buckets in order to dump their contents.

The concrete buckets were delivered to the forms from the dinkey trains by means of two Colby hammerhead gantry cranes operating on a 38-foot gage track on the construction trestle.  These cranes had an on-end lifting capacity of 14 tons each, a lifting speed of 750 feet per minute, could travel along the 38-foot gage track at a speed of 125 feet per minute, and were electrically operated by direct current equipment. 

These hammerhead cranes proved to be very efficient in placing of the concrete.  When placing in large open forms, a maximum rate of about 125 cubic yards per hour per crane was obtained with an average rate of some pours of about 75 cubic yards per hour per crane.  The over-all average rate of placing in all types of forms was, of course, considerably less.

Inasmuch as the construction trestle was not as long as the dam, buckets were handled from dinkey trains at the north end of the trestle to the forms by means of a stiff-leg derrick.  The concrete for the powerhouse and retaining wall was mixed at the principal mixing plant and hauled by dump trucks to the forms.
 Steel trestle used to carry cement buckets at Dale Hollow Dam on Obey River July 12, 1942 Dinky car under loading chute of concrete mixing plant at Dale Hollow Dam June 12, 1942 
 Twin cranes are used in pouring concrete at Dale Hollow Dam on the Obey River June 26, 1942  Metal stretcher is used for first aid work at Dale Hollow Dam June 26, 1942
 Tracks are being laid on top of steel trestle for dinkeys to haul concrete at Dale Hollow Dam July 7, 1942  View from left bank showing concrete that has been placed in spillway sections of Dale Hollow Dam July 20, 1942
 Night view of concrete mixing plant at Dale Hollow Dam July 20, 1942  View of Dale Hollow Dam site from right bank showing tower bridge way crane and operation bridge used in conveying and handling concrete Aug. 3, 1942

Washing Plant:  During the coarse aggregate processing there was a considerable amount of dust produced which coated the aggregates.  The handling and rehandling in transporting the aggregates from the quarry to the stock piles further contributed to the formation of this dust coating.  Since the crushing plants were frequently operated during rainy, damp weather, the aggregates could not be properly screened to remove this dust.  Also, there was some clay in the aggregates causing a stickiness in the concrete and slowed up placing operations.

It was decided, therefore, to install a washing plant as a corrective measure.  The washing plant, which was especially designed for this job, was of Telsmith manufacture, with shaker type screen, and was electrically operated.  When the aggregates traveling along the conveyor belt reached the washing plant they were divided into two equal parts and each part was fed separately by means of gravity chute to a double deck screen.  Over each screen were located five rows of spray nozzles with deflectors to direct the water against the aggregates as they rolled over the screens.  A flume, located underneath, caught the waste material and water and conducted them to a spoil area.

On the whole, the washing plant functioned very efficiently, and after it was put into operation, a decided improvement was noticed in the workability of the concrete and it was possible to use a lower water-cement ratio which resulted in higher strengths.

Water:  The water used for mixing concrete and for curing was obtained from the Obey River which was found by test to contain no chemicals that would be detrimental to the concrete.  The water was pumped from the river into a settling reservoir constructed in a draw between the stock pile area and the mixing plant.  From this settling reservoir, the water was pumped to a 100,000 gallon tank located on top of the hill north of the end of the dam.  From this tank it fed by gravity to the mixing plant.

View of pump house on right bank of Obey River at Dale Hollow Dam April 7, 1942   Pump house on Obey River bank at Dale Hollow Dam July 7, 1942
 Reservoir furnishes water for concrete mixing plant at Dale Hollow Dam July 7, 1942  

Work Involved:  The work covered by the original contract involved construction of the dam and access roads, and all immediate appurtenant works.  Additional work might be added: powerhouse, switchyard, certain electrical equipment, and hauling and installing crest gates and penstock gates and their necessary operating machinery.

All of the contemplated work was actually added except for the electrical equipment.  The construction of the powerhouse and switchyard was commenced but the work was curtailed in January 1943 by a directive of the War Production Board.  Under this directive, the substance of the powerhouse was only brought to a stage which allowed for the removal of the cofferdams, while only common excavation was completed for the switchyard.

In addition to the above work, it was necessary, owing to the inability of the Tennessee Valley Authority to furnish a transmission line to the project, to install and operate a diesel electric generating plant for construction power.  Also, as a result of a serious flood in December 1942, it was necessary for the government to bear a portion of the cost of rebuilding a part of the construction trestle. 

Dale Hollow Dam Oct. 2, 1942   Dale Hollow Dam Access Road Jan. 29, 1942

Old Fall Foilage

Carelessness is Costly

Old Boating Footage

Recreation Footage

Outboard Motor Races

Erosion Control