WALB Home Base: Lake Blackshear - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

WALB Home Base: Lake Blackshear

October 19, 2006

Lake Blackshear -- We're here on the banks of beautiful Lake Blackshear-- a lake that wouldn't exist without the Crisp County Power Commission Dam.  When the Flint River was dammed, it created this 8,700 acre lake.

The dam began generating power for Crisp County in 1930. Back then, most rural areas didn't have electricity. The Power Commission came up with a good marketing plan to sell people on the idea of electricity.

They "gave" folks in rural areas what were basically security lights, called 'free lights.'     "They would run power into those areas and people would get a free light and then if they wanted to they could buy other appliances to use the energy," said Dam Production Manager Gene Ford.     

There are four power-generating units at the dam. One of the 18,000 pound turbines was taken out of one of them this week for maintenance. The spillway is about 32 feet deep and 450 feet long. Two earthen portions of the dam on either side run for a total of 3,700 feet.

A big chunk of the earthen dam washed away during the flood of 1994. You can see where it was replaced with a sturdier material.  

Just a stone's throw from the dam is the town that's probably most associated with Lake Blackshear-- Warwick.   It's located near the southern edge of the lake, just south of Smoak Bridge and the popular boat ramp there. The population is a little more than 400, and all of them live within an easy walk of downtown, which includes a park and walking track popular with the locals.

Even though the town is small, it has a long history that dates back to the early 1800s when there was a trading post and ferry crossing over the Flint River near the current city limits.   "The old maps, you don't see Albany you don't see Sylvester you don't see Cordele. I don't even think you see Americus. But on that trail map you do see Warwick," says Warwick Mayor Alan Peacock.  

Andrew Jackson camped near Warwick in 1818 on his way down to fight the Seminole Indians. The village began to grow in 1825 when a stagecoach road was put in around what is now Highway 300.

In recent years, Warwick was officially recognized by the state as the Grits Capital of Georgia. Of course Warwick is known for hosting the National Grits Festival every April.

But that's not the only well-known festival in towns near Lake Blackshear.

  • The Pecan Festival comes up in Americus in two weeks.
  • Cordele has its Watermelon Festival every summer.
  • Sylvester hosts the Peanut Festival every harvest time. Most of the activities are this weekend. Friday night, there will be a gospel sing at Worth County High School at seven o'clock. Things kick of Saturday in downtown Sylvester at 9AM, with the parade at 10:00. You've got arts and crafts, food, and live entertainment all day. There's also a peanut and peanut butter cook off. The Peter Pan Peanut Butter raffle at five o'clock. The Peanut Dance at the VFW on Highway 82 wraps up the fun Saturday at 8:00.

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