Piney Dam under construction. Photo submitted by Betty Macdonald, niece of Paul Webb (who worked on the dam and may be the photographer of said photo).

Piney Dam

The last run of rafts down the Clarion River was Saturday and Sunday, May 22-23, 1915.  On May 23, 1924 Piney Dam's gates were closed and the Clarion River was no longer used to float lumber or any other products to Pittsburgh.  The river below the dam dropped sharply.  The new dam's power plant immediately began to generate and transmit electric power.  The Clarion River Power Company announced that the new dam at Piney would serve consumers in twelve counties and would stop the flow of 1.4 billion cubic feet of water weighing 44 million tons.

 

Piney Dam Reservoir, a deep, wide and six-mile long body of water, suitable for everything from fishing to water skiing.

Piney Dam in the 1950's

1922: Clarion - Clyde McLaughlin, 26, of Kane, a carpenter employed in the erection of houses for workmen who are to construct the dam along the Clarion river, near Piney, died Friday, and a coroner's jury recommended the arrest of Albert Thompson, also employed on the work. According to the authorities, McLaughlin was struck on the head with a hammer. Source: 10/19/1922

 

1923:  Construction Progressing — The Clarion Republican says that construction work at the Piney Dam is progressing very rapidly. There are now more than 800 men employed on the job. Cement is being pourd day and night and three steam shovels have begun excavating on the north bank of the river. Source: 8/2/1923 Indiana Weekly Messenger, Indiana, Pa.

 

1924: PINEY DAM IS COMPLETED -- Clarion, Pa., May 27 -- The Piney dam, first of the several to be built along the Clarion river the hydroelectric project to furnish power to all parts of northern Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York states, is completed and has been closed for the water to back up. The dam is located five miles below town, and the water now is rapidly backing up, so that in a day or so it will be at the new water line which is seventy-five feet above the old level of the stream. Hundreds of bass, pike, sunfish, and salmon were gathered easily as the waters stopped flowing through the temporary opening. Some Clarion residents got as many as sixty or seventy pounds a piece. Source: 5/27/1924 Indiana Evening Gazette, Indiana, Pa.

 

1924: Gather Fish by Hand in Clarion River Bed — Fish, literally thousands of them, big bass, good sized salmon and pike and suckers floundered about in the 25 mile stretch between the Piney Dam of the Clarion River and the Allegheny River Sunday and were picked up by eager spectators. One man went away with more than 60 pounds of tempting fish and others reported "hauls" of 40 to 50 pounds. It was a case of "come and get your own" - and they did. Ever since the water began filling in behind the new Piney Dam last Friday afternoon, the fresh water fish have been available to any who desired them. While the river bed is not thoroughly dry, due to other streams which empty into the Clarion River, the stretch below the Piney Dam is so shallow that the fish can be taken out easily. Most of the fish are those which have made their way up from the Allegheny River. Source: 6/5/1924 Indiana Weekly Messenger

 

1924: CLARION DAM OPENING AUG. 25 -- The opening of the big new Piney Hydro-Electric Plant, the first development of the Hydro-Electric project on the Clarion river, will be held at Clarion on Monday, August 25th, 1924. The Penn Public Service Company, one of the public utility concerns interested in the big project, are inviting a number of their friends and patrons from this section to attend this opening, which will be quite a feature and well worth attending. Source: 8/19/1924 Clearfield Progress, Clearfield, Pa.

 

1924: PINEY DAM PLANT ON CLARION RIVER IS FORMALLY OPENED -- Oil City, Pa., Aug. 25 -- First development of the hydro-electric project on the Clarion river-formal opening of the Piney dam plant six miles from Clarion- today attracted a throng of more than 1,000 persons, including officials of P.D. Walbridge and company, New York, under whose management it is operated, and officials of the Pennsylvania Public Service Commission. W.D.B. Atney State Public Commission chairman, made an address and luncheon was served to the invited guests. The present capacity of the plant is 24,000 horsepower with an ultimate capacity of 48,000 horsepower. Current will be furnished 12 counties of western Pennsylvania. Source: 8/26/1924 Republican Press, Salamanca, New York

 

1925: Contamination Killing Fish — Clarion, PA., Oct. 19 - An appeal to Governor Pinchot to aid in stopping the contamination that is killing thousands of fish in the Clarion River will be made by E.L. Ellis, District Fish Warden, who is investigating the pollution. Dead fish are strewn along the river banks from Piney Dam to points ten and twelve miles above. Warden Ellis left for Harrisburg after a severe rain storm had discouraged him in his investigations. Source: 10/19/1925 Clearfield Progress.

 

1926: The Unusual in Motor Accidents—Marion Center and State College Couples Had Terrible Experience on Piney Dam Road - Car over Three Times—NONE INJURED—  Usualness seems to be the order of the day and it was never more apparent than in the automobile accident in which Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Wetzel and their 5-month-old son Billy of Marion Center and Mrs. E.N. Montague of State College figured over in Clarion county, Sunday afternoon about 4 o'clock.  The accident occurred where the road is being constructed along the Clarion river near Piney dam. The car in which the two couples and the little lad were riding skidded and the bank gave away throwing the car over and down the mountain side. The car rolled over three times and was caught by a tree just six inches from the rear of the car, which was on its left side. The tree held the car in position to permit of the occupants to escape.   The accident came so suddenly that the four elder persons could not brace themselves, but as the car turned over the first time, Mrs. Wetzel quickly pushed her little baby through the half open front window and dropped him on some bushes on the up-hill side, just before the car whirled over again. The lad was unhurt and was laughing five minutes later.  The occupants, strange to say, received no serious injuries, just being bruised and shaken up. Mr. Wetzel's knee had a deep cut and a Clarion doctor fixed him up in a few minutes.  The all-steel body of the car withstood the shock and had only two windows, one door, and the visor broken. It took four men and a wrecking outfit four and a half hours to get the car back on the road. It was driven home the same night. Source: Wednesday, September 8, 1926 Indiana Evening Gazette

 

1928: Third Unit Installed — The third unit in the Piney dam power plant on the Clarion river has been installed, it has been learned in Warren. To supply the additional water needed, gates will be built to raise this water level of the impounded river three feet, the work will require several months. Source: 3/23/1928 Warren Morning Mirror, Warren, PA

 

1928: UNIT IN OPERATION — The third unit on the Piney Dam power plant on the Clarion river at Clarion was in operation Friday. It consists of a turbine and generator. To insure a sufficient supply of water, work is to be started on plans to raise the water level when necessary. Source: 3/24/1928 Warren Tribune, Warren, Pa.

 

1928: Piney Dam Water Level is Lowered — Clarion, Aug. 2 - The water level of Piney dam is 20 feet below normal and at the lowest stage since the dam was completed five years ago as the result of the operating of all three turbines at full capacity for the past two and one half days. This lowering of the water level was necessary in order that the *eat chambers at the bottom of the 14 floodgates, which have become rough and uneven in five years of use, might be smoothed off to insure a better fit and avoid leakage. This work is expected to be completed Monday when the dam will be refilled again.  Three feet of steel has been added to the top of each of the gates thereby raising the level of the dam three feet and giving a four per cent increase in the power of the plant, and a 50 per cent increase in the storage capacity of the impounded lake. Source: 8/3/1928 Derrick

 

1936: Tourists — The Misses Betty and Marjorie McAtee, Mary Kehoe, Grace McMullen, Mary Catherine Whitehill, Mary Jane Fink, Madeline Derminer, and Eva Jane Savel, members of the Girl Scout Troop No. 4, Mrs. Harvey Whitehill of the Troop Committee, and Miss Helen McClelland, captain of the troop, returned late Sunday after spending three days in Erie attending the first Girl Scout Retreat of the Erie Dioceses and visiting many places of interest, especially enjoying a drive around the Peninsula. En route to Erie the group stopped at Clarion and was taken through all parts of the power house and surroundings of Piney Dam. Source: 8/22/1936 Clearfield Progress, Clearfield, Pa.

 

1938: "July Rainfall in Venango Within Inch of Record Mark --  (excerpt) A 110,000-volt switch at the Piney Dam power station was reported as virtually destroyed by a flash which his the Sage Run line of the Clarion River Power Company. This section was treated to brilliant displays of lightning on several horizons, which brought back memories of artillery fire on the western front. Source: 8/2/1938 The Charleroi Mail, Charleroi, Pa.

 

1938: TRUCK PLUNGES INTO DAM -- A truck owned by C.W. Gustafson of Kane and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Tony Leone and Howard Ashbaugh of Kane plunged over a 28-foot bank into the Piney reservoir on the Clarion River last week. The truck rolled over four times and landed in several feet of water but the occupants escaped injuries. Source: 9/1/1938 McKean County Democrat

 

1940’s: TURBINE OPERATORS — PINEY STATION — William R. Tomlinson, hydro turbine operator for 22 years, employed at the Piney Generating Station, retired April 1. Bill began his employment with the Clarion River Power Company in 1924 while the station was still under construction. His plans for the future include a new home at Shippensville, where he hopes to continue his present hobby of woodworking.   Thomas E. Best took up his old job as turbine operator March 25, after serving 23 months in the Army. He relieved William Tomlinson... It is nice to have Fred J. Hays, operator, and Paul E. Crews, maintenance, with us again. Fred was ill for eight weeks; Paul, for two. Note: Photo of W.R. Tomlinson accompanied article.  Unknown date of publication, probably 1940’s.

 

1941: CONSTRUCT RAILROAD TO PINEY DAM -- A new standard guage railroad is under construction in Clarion County with more than a mile of right-of-way being cleared between Piney Dam, huge hydro-electric plant on the Clarion river, and a spur of the New York Central railway. The railroad will be used in the spring to bring in two transformers, each weighing 25 tons, and take out two smaller transformers that are now in use. Increased demand for electrical power from Piney Dam necessitates the installation of heavier equipment and construction of a railroad is the only way the huge equipment could be handled. Source: 12/25/1941 McKean County Democrat

 

1948: REJECTS APPLICATION - The Public Utility Commission, heading objections from the Fish Commission, has rejected an application for the operation of motor boats on the Clarion river, between Piney dam and the limit of Black water. The boat right was sought by Harold R. Bowser and Eugene R. Pierce, both of Knox, who wanted to carry passengers. The fish commission objected that there would be a hazard to the public "in operating motor boats at high speed." Source: 7/2/1948 Warren Times-Mirror.

 

1950: POWER FAILURE LAST NIGHT ORIGINATED AT PLANT NEAR CLARION -- Johnstown, Pa., Jan. 4 -- Half a dozen Western Pennsylvania communities were without electric power 24 minutes last night after an oil circuit breaker blew out near Clarion. The power failure stemmed from one of the three 100,000-watt transformers in the Piney plant of the Pennsylvania Electric Company. Penelec customers in Jefferson, Clearfield, Indiana, Crawford, Venango and Erie counties were blacked out. Company officials credited quick-thinking employes at Seward, Warren and Erie with preventing a service disruption for the firm's entire system serving 300,000 customers. Source: 1/4/1950 Clearfield Progress, Clearfield, Pa.

 

1950:  Storm Brings Power Failure -- Johnstown, Pa. -- A severe electrical storm caused a power failure which affected hundreds of thousands of residents in 11 western Pennsylvania counties Friday night. A bolt of lightning knocked out the heart of the Pennsylvania Electric company's main generating station at Seward, near Johnstown. Two other bolts struck transmission lines of the company at Piney dam near Clarion and near Franklin. A spokesman for the company said the bolt which hit the Seward station at 5:03 p.m. smashed an insulator on a 110,000 volt line. From then, until 9:30 when service was restored, intermittent failures were reported through the 11-county area from Erie, Pa., to Deep Creek Lake, Md. Source: 8/19/1950 Mansfield News Journal, Mansfield, Ohio.

 

1962: Drumm also announced that seven additional interconnections at somewhat lower voltage between Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland companies and West Penn Power with its affiliates in the Allegheny Power System began continuous operation this month. Three of these involving West Penn Power provide local ties in the Clarion, State College, and Latrobe areas that are an important supplement to the more dramatic aspects of the program announced today. In capsule form, these interconnections - completed earlier this year and placed in service November 1 - include: Clarion - construction of 4.25 miles of the 115,000-volt transmission line in the vicinity of Clarion, between West Penn's Burma sub-station and Pennsylvania Electric's Piney Station, with installation of major equipment at Burma, to provide an independent power source for firm back-up of power supplies to the Clarion-New Bethlehem area. Source: 11/19/1962 Daily Courier, Connellsville, Pa.

 

1969: PINEY ELECTRIC STATION SUPERINTENDENT NAMED — CLARION - Charles J. Ford of Johnstown RD 4 has been named superintendent for Pennsylvania Electric Company's Piney Hydroelectric Station near Clarion, succeeding Norman H.C. Davidson who has been assigned engineering responsibilities at Shawville Electric Generating Station at Clearfield.   Piney Station, located at the Clarion River Dam, has the capability of producing 26,000 kilowatts of energy and is operated by a staff of 16.  Ford, who has been serving since 1963 as Project Engineer at Seward Station, joined the Company in 1940 as a Cadet Engineer at Seward. In 1951, he transferred to Johnstown as an efficiency engineer and returned to Seward a year later as a production department engineer. He also served there and at Shawville Station as a results engineer before transferring to Front St. Station, Erie, in 1957 as a mechanical engineer. He returned to Seward in his latest position.  He has been active in Boy Scout activities in the Johnstown area and is a member of the Johnstown Coin Club. He is a member and former teacher of the Grove Avenue Methodist Church, Johnstown.  A native of Charleston, W. Va., he is married to the former Lois E. Gittlings of Johnstown. They have three children, Charles, 14, Richard, 12, and Lois, 10. The Fords are planning to relocate to the Clarion area. Source: 7/4/1969 Derrick

 

1972: ELECTROCUTION — Russell Virgil Stiers, 23, of Pittsburgh was electrocuted at the Piney Dam Power Station on October 21. He was working for a firm contracted to paint the towers at the dam. Source: 1/29/1972 Derrick

 

 

In the News

Photo from feature in the 8/27/1924 Clearfield Progress

Piney Twp Web Banner

Piney Creek Power Plant—Construction of the Piney Creek power plant began in 1990, with operations commencing on December 17, 1992. A circulating fluidized bed boiler, designed by Tampella Power, is used to produce steam that drives an Asea Brown Boveri 33 MW VAX dual turbine generator set. All power produced is sold and transmitted via the Penelec substation at Piney Creek Dam.

Read more on the Piney Creek Power Plant

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