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Safe Harbor Dam and Lake Clarke from diagram of Lower Susquehanna River (U. S. Geological Survey publication)

The naming of Lake Clarke at Long Level

Twelve-mile long Lake Clarke at Long Level was formed in 1931 by the Susquehanna River backing up behind the 75-foot high Safe Harbor Dam.

Aerial view looking northwest, past Safe Harbor Dam in the foreground, with Lake Clarke formed upriver on the Susquehanna (Pinterest photo)

Several times the question has been raised concerning the naming of Lake Clarke; most recently following my presentation at Shank’s Mare, at Long Level, this past Friday. This time, a search for the answer was successful. The Ancestry.com portal into Newspapers.com proved a successful combination to discover the man behind the Lake Clarke naming, but first some background history.

The planning to construct the Safe Harbor Dam started in 1929, with groundbreaking on April 1, 1930. The dam stretches 4,869-feet across the Susquehanna River near the village of Safe Harbor in Lancaster County. Building the dam and hydroelectric facility provided jobs for 4,000 workers during the early years of the Great Depression.

Safe Harbor Dam Near Completion photos in The Philadelphia Inquirer of August 9, 1931.

These photos in The Philadelphia Inquirer of August 9, 1931, show the Safe Harbor Dam nearing completion 16-months after work began. Lake Clarke started to fill during September of 1931 when the dam gates were initially closed. Hydroelectric power generation commenced in December of 1931. A present aerial view of the Safe Harbor Hydroelectric Station at the Lancaster County end of the dam is shown in the following photo.

Aerial View of the Safe Harbor Hydroelectric Station at the Lancaster County end of the Safe Harbor Dam (Pinterest photo)

Safe Harbor is the last of the four hydroelectric dams on the lower Susquehanna River. York Haven Dam was completed in 1904. Holtwood Dam was completed in 1910 and was originally known as McCalls Ferry Dam; before being renamed for Holt and Wood, the major investors in the project. Conowingo Dam was completed in 1928.

All these hydroelectric facilities have been upgraded over the years. Today, York Haven has a capacity to generate 19 megawatts. Holtwood can generate 230 megawatts. Conowingo can generate 548 megawatts. And, Safe Harbor can generate 423 megawatts. These four lower Susquehanna River hydroelectric facilities combine to generate 1,220 megawatts.

As a comparison, the Hoover Dam hydroelectric facility can generate 2,080 megawatts. Or, closer to home, the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, in southern York County, can generate 2,770 megawatts.


Lake Clarke is named for Charles Edwin Fletcher Clarke
, or as he used throughout his business career; Charles E. F. Clarke.

Quoting from the Lancaster New Era, issue of August 26, 1933, upon the death of Mr. Clarke: “Charles E. F. Clarke, president of the Pennsylvania Water and Power Company and of the Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation, died yesterday at his home at Rye, New York, after an illness of many months. Mr. Clarke headed the Pennsylvania Water and Power Company since 1914 and was president of the Safe Harbor firm since its incorporation in January 1930. Lake Clarke, formed by the damming of the Susquehanna by the Safe Harbor dam, was named for him.”

Lake Clarke impounds 41,000,000,000 gallons of water and has a surface covering ten square miles. The following diagram of Safe Harbor Dam and Lake Clarke is from a U. S. Geological Survey publication.

Safe Harbor Dam and Lake Clarke from diagram of Lower Susquehanna River (U. S. Geological Survey publication)

In addition to serving as President of the Pennsylvania Water and Power Company and of the Safe Harbor Water Power Corporation, Mr. Clarke was Chairman of the Board of the Eastern Rolling Mill Company and the Baltimore Tube Company. Charles also served as Vice-President of the Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore; which helped finance the construction of Safe Harbor Dam and Hydroelectric Station.

The following photo of Charles E. F. Clarke [1863-1933] comes from his 1920 U. S. Passport, via Ancestry.com.

Photo of Charles E. F. Clarke [1863-1933] (From his 1920 U. S. Passport, via Ancestry.com)

Charles Edwin Fletcher Clarke was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on October 13, 1863; the son of Charles and Elizabeth Fletcher Clarke. Charles attended Phillips Andover Academy, class of 1882. He died August 25, 1933; at 69 years old. The following photo shows Charles gravestone in West Parish Garden Cemetery, in Andover, Massachusetts.

Gravestone of Charles E. F. Clarke [1863-1933] in West Parish Garden Cemetery, Andover, Massachusetts (from Find A Grave)

Click on this LINK for a yorkblog.com Full View of the photos and illustrations in this post.

Tickets are still available for an upcoming presentation:

Appell Performing Arts Center’s Capitol Theatre, in York, on Tuesday December 10, 2019, 7:00 PM, will be the site of York Daily Record’s 5th annual history night, York History Storytellers; featuring presentations about “Pivotal Moments in York County History.” I’ll be one of the participants that evening; with my topic The York Plan. The fee goes to cost of renting the Capitol Theatre. Reservations can be made at this LINK.

Links to related posts include:

First Working Canal in Pennsylvania was in York Haven
Was the Town of Pleasant Garden planned with a River Bridge in 1793?

Reading the Headlines: A Quick Index to All YorksPast Posts