On July 19th and 20th access across Sutton Dam to the Jerimiah Carpenter hiking trail was closed while staff conducted the annual maintenance bulkhead exercise. This important exercise enables staff the opportunity to maintain a state of readiness and to test the various pieces of equipment and steps required to complete the process. After placing the bulkhead over the upstream entrance of the water intake, crews can then enter the tunnels that carry water thru the dam and make inspections to equipment that is normally inaccessible due to water flowing thru the dam. The bulkhead weighs 32,000 lbs. and is set into place with a crane designed specifically for operating on the narrow bridge that spans the spillway of the dam.
The Sutton Dam is a concrete-gravity structure 210 feet high, 1,178 feet long, and 195 feet wide at the base. It controls a 537 square mile drainage area, including the upper Elk River, and the Holly River. Sutton Dam was built primarily for flood control on the Elk, Kanawha, and Ohio Rivers. Construction of the dam was completed in 1961 at a cost of $35 million. Flood damages have been reduced by more than $375 million due to flood control efforts performed by the Sutton Dam. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operates and maintains the dam and project recreation facilities.
The facility resumed normal operations on July 21.