LAKE WALLENPAUPACK HISTORY Prior to 1926, only a stream flowed through the area that is now Lake Wallenpaupack. Leni - Lenape Indians named it "Wallenpaupack" which means "The Stream of Swift and Slow Water". The land at one time was owned by William Penn who deeded it to his son, and then to James Wilson, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Wilsonville; the site of PPL Companies Hydroelectric Dam, and at one time the county seat of Wayne County, was named for James Wilson.
The first step in the plan to construct a dam was purchasing land from about 100 owners. Land values at that time were about $20 an acre. Farms, barns, houses, sheds, and other buildings were either razed or moved. Trees were cut and 17 miles of road along with telephone and telegraph poles were re-routed beyond the 52 mile shoreline. A cemetery was also relocated. A dike was erected near Tafton to complete the Lake bed, and a stream was temporarily diverted while the dam was built. Construction started early in 1924 and 2,700 men worked nearly 2 years to complete the project. It included the dam, the power plant, and the giant wooden flow line to carry the water from the Lake to the plant location 3 1/2 miles away. The original wooden structure, one of the worlds largest pipelines at that time, was constructed from 5 million board feet of douglas fir and transported by ship from the state of Washington.
The Wallenpaupack 44,000 KW power plant was constructed simultaneously with the dam and put into service in 1926. The plant increased PPL''s system generating capacity approximately 25% in 1926. It's system-wide generating capacity, when the plant went on line, was only about 225,000 KW. Before 1925, the year round population of the lake area was about 500 people and changed little except for an occasional influx of fishermen in the spring and hunters in the fall. It's value, as an ideal recreation spot, has been evident from the time Lake Wallenpaupack was completed.
Information supplied from Hawley's Chamber of Commerce web site.
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Hamlin, PA 18427
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