Monday, April 30, 2012

Work Starts On Rez - 1960

A bit of history to start the week.

The following transcript is from an article that appeared in The Brandon News on Thursday, February 11, 1960. 

Image copies of the article are available here:
The map below appeared with the article and provided directions to a "Reservoir Open House" that occurred a week earlier. 

Click for high resolution photo
Actual Construction Begun On 
Pearl River Reservoir Dam And 
Spillway After Ceremony Held
February 11, 1960- The Brandon News

Formalities are over and actual construction is underway on the gigantic $25,000,000 Pearl River Reservoir which is to border Rankin, Scott, Leake and Madison counties and will additionally benefit Hinds county and the City of Jackson.

Gov. Ross R. Barnett was speaker at the ground-breaking ceremony held Wednesday afternoon of last week at what is to eventually become the east end of the earthen dam that is to form the reservoir. He paid tribute to the many who had conceived the project  and pushed it along the way toward reality, including former Governors J. P. Coleman and Hugh White by name. He lauded the project as a tourist attraction and expressed the belief that, through such similar foresightedness, Mississippi's tourist industry could be increased in a few year from its present $300,000,000 level to three billion dollars.

H. V. Watkins, attorney for the Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, served as master of ceremonies on the platform atop a huge truck "float" used for hauling in heavy machinery. One of the preliminary talks was made by W. P. Bridges, Sr., chairman of the board of directors of the water supply district, who praised the efforts of those who had been associated with him in the project. Mr. Bridges declared the day to be the "second happiest" day he expected in his life . . .to be exceeded only by the day that the project is opened to the public.

Spur Track

The ceremony was held in a "Y" of what is to be spur track off the G. M. & O railroad. The roadbed is built and crossties were laid so that extra-heavy equipment and materials of the Harbert Construction Co. can be brought to the site by rail. Huge earth-moving machines were lined up, ready to begin their task of moving the millions of yards of dirt. From the railroad tracks, 50 yards west, a mile and a half to the Pearl River itself, men and machines went on with their work of clearing and grubbing in preparation for the dirt-moving. Smoke from the burning of trees and stumps in the area kept the crowd of about 200 from being able to see the river itself. 

Below is a picture of the "Y" track location mentioned in the article.  The railroad is visible as a line running left to right across the middle of the photo.   Three trees near the center of the photo are within the "Y".  The photo is looking westward toward Ridgeland.  The dam had been cleared up to the Pearl River.

The original railroad ran near the old Rapids parking lot - it was later relocated east near the intersection of Spillway Road and Old Fannin Road.  Some long-time residents may remember the railroad crossing near the location of the new BankPlus.   

click for high resolution photo

The Rez News
Barnett Reservoir

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