For Raccoon Mountain volunteer, it’s back to the future
Cecil Thomas knew then that he was part of something unique, working on TVA’s Raccoon Mountain task force in the early 1960s. To the layman, the mountaintop-reservoir concept seemed almost inconceivable — a man-made lake that would drain to generate power and then be refilled by pumps during low-usage hours at night. But to Thomas, the beauty was in its engineering brilliance.
Now retired for 20 years, Thomas still stays close to Raccoon Mountain. He is among about 65 TVA retirees who volunteer at the Raccoon Mountain Visitors Center.
Raccoon Mountain: facts & Figures
• Construction at Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Plant began in 1970 and was completed in 1978.
• The reservoir constructed at the top of the mountain has 528 acres of water surface.
• The dam at Raccoon Mountain’s upper reservoir is 230 feet high and 8,500 feet long. It’s the largest rockfill dam ever built by TVA.
• Once the upper reservoir is full, the pumped-storage plant can provide 22 hours of continuous power generation.
• The generating capacity of Raccoon Mountain is about 1,600 megawatts of electricity.
Staffed by BVI Inc., the visitors center is open year-round, every day except major holidays, and hosts about 30,000 people every year, from all walks of life, including many international visitors.
What stirs such curiosity? “It’s the man-made lake on top of a mountain and the scenic view of the Tennessee River and surrounding valley,” says Thomas.
The retiree volunteers are dedicated, says BVI coordinator Judy Allen. “They know the facts about Raccoon Mountain and TVA. They also direct visitors to the interactive displays to learn about the ‘mountaintop marvel’ and how it works.”
With his engineering background, Thomas usually leads technical tours for customers, elected officials and other dignitaries.
What keeps Thomas excited about Raccoon Mountain? “Well, I’ve been doing this for about 15 years,” he says. “But I am still impressed by what Raccoon Mountain does for TVA’s power system.” n