Bluestone Dam, located at Hinton, is one of the major flood control dams in West Virginia. It has the largest drainage area and flood storage capacity of any dam in the state. It is built across New River, one mile above its junction with the Greenbrier River and two miles below the confluence of New River and Bluestone River. Prior to the construction of the Bluestone Dam, flooding was a major problem on this great river system.
Bluestone Dam was authorized in 1935 by an executive order issued by President Franklin Roosevelt. Construction on the project began in 1942, but work was suspended in 1943 because of World War II. Work resumed in January 1946, and the dam was completed for operational purposes in January 1949, and totally completed in 1952. The approximate cost was $30 million.
With a drainage area of 4,565 square miles Bluestone Dam controls 44 percent of the river flow through the populous Kanawha Valley, which is downstream. It is a concrete gravity dam 165 feet high and 2,048 feet long, administered by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Normal release of water from the Bluestone Lake is accomplished through 16 sluices in the base of the dam. The 790-foot spillway has 21 flood gates. There are also six sluiceways for hydroelectric power that have not been used in the early decades of the dam’s history. The maximum discharge capacity is 430,000 square feet per second.
The dam contains 942,000 cubic yards of concrete and 7,800 tons of steel. Its lake has a summertime surface of 2,040 acres and is very popular with boaters, skiers, and fishermen. Bluestone State Park, located on the Bluestone River about three miles above the dam, provides lodging, camping, a restaurant, and recreational facilities.
The Bluestone Dam celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1999, when the Army Corps of Engineers estimated that the dam had prevented more than $1.6 billion in flood damages. Bluestone ended its first half-century with important improvements under way. The lake became a major supplier of public water in 1997, serving Hinton and Princeton and a large area between and around those two communities. Reinforcements were added to the dam under the federal Dam Safety Assurance program, with the work continuing through the early years of the 21st century. Simultaneously, work began to add hydroelectric capacity to the dam, in a partnership between Hinton and other communities and private industry.
This Article was written by Michael M. Meador
Last Revised on January 04, 2011
Casto, James E. Bluestone Dam Celebrates 50 Years. Wonderful West Virginia, (1999).
"Bluestone Lake," Pamphlet. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 1999.
Cite This Article
Meador, Michael M. "Bluestone Dam and Lake." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 04 January 2011. Web. 30 September 2016.