As we're wrapping up the Branson Blast event, I'd like to share with you a really great tour that C and I went on. It was one of my favorite parts of our trip to Branson, and it's really unique. It's not just another show or fun park (although I do enjoy both of those :). We were able to take the Table Rock Dam and Powerhouse Tour, and it was very interesting!
We had reservations for a 10:00 tour one morning, so we showed up a half hour early as recommended. The tour departs from the Dewey Short Visitor Center.
After signing in, we were able to wander the visitor center, which has some very interesting displays of local wildlife, activities for adults and children, and information about the area. There is also a small gift shop so you can purchase souvenirs. About 20 minutes after arriving, our tour group headed out to the trolley, which takes you to the actual dam.
The ride out is only a few minutes, and gives you a chance to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Table Rock Lake. Once inside the gated area, Joshua, our tour guide, gathered everyone up and led us inside the lobby to get started. The first step was to get everyone organized. Joshua said that once we had stepped inside the gates, we would be recorded the entire time. We were also directed to stay in the same order on our tour, as the cameras would catch if someone stepped out of line. Before venturing into the actual powerhouse, we were able to look at one of the old turbines that had been replaced from the generators.
From there we started into the actual powerhouse. No photography is allowed (obviously) but believe me when I say this is amazing! The sheer size of the generators is unbelievable! One of the wrenches used for working on the generators was hanging on the wall, and it was literally at least 3 feet long!
We were led downstairs to see the turbines that power the generators, as well as the penstocks that bring the water in. Again, the size of these were amazing. I believe Joshua said that the penstocks that bring water to the turbines are each 18 feet in diameter.
After seeing all there was to see in the powerhouse, we traipsed over to the actual dam. The temperature inside here was about 48 degrees, and stays between 46-50 degrees year-round.
One interesting thing we were shown in here was the piano wire that is strung tightly from the top of the dam all the way down, where it floats in oil. This can (and is on a semi-regular basis) checked within 1/1000th of an inch, and allows the stability of the dam to be checked. If the wire has shifted, that means the dam has shifted. Thankfully, we were told that it had not budged at all since the dam was built.
While inside the dam, probably the most notable attribute is again the size-although this time, it's the length that amazes you. When you're standing inside and either direction you look all you see is a cement-walled "tunnel", you get an appreciation for how big the dam actually is! And in case you're wondering, the Table Rock Dam is 6,423 feet long, stands 252 feet above the stream bed. It utilizes 4 generators, each of which generates 50,000 kilowatts of power. And, the dam has 10 spill way gates that measure 45x37 feet each.
Once finished, we headed back out to the trolley for our ride to the visitor center. I don't know about the others that took the tour, but I for one was amazed and a little awed at what I had just seen!
On our way back to the hotel, we snapped a couple pictures of Table Rock Lake and the hatchery that sits right outside the dam.
If you're planning to visit Branson at all, whether vacation or just passing through, I would strongly recommend you make time for a tour of the Table Rock Dam and Powerhouse. It is something you will never forget! For more information, visit Table Rock Dam Tours.