Grand Lake

Dr. Bruce Howell

The seventy-fifth anniversary of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees is observed in 2015 thanks to a fourteen-year-old year old boy who had a vision of a dam while hauling lumber from Kansas to Spavinaw hills in Oklahoma. Henry Holderman pursued his dream for thirty-four years and it became a reality in 1940.

Construction began in 1938 on the Pensacola Dam as a Works Progress Administration project (also known as the WPA). The project’s chief engineer was W. R. Holway, who was also responsible for Tulsa’s Spavinaw water project. The architect of record for the Art Deco design of the dam and powerhouse was Tulsan John Duncan Forsyth.

The dam was completed in March 1940, creating the lake behind it. Between 1941 and 1946, the U.S. government took control of Pensacola Dam to divert power to the war effort. Control was returned to the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA) by Congress and President Truman amid a local celebration in August 1946.

Pensacola Dam is claimed to be the longest multiple arch dam in the world, supporting a walkway and narrow two lane highway. Henry Holderman died in 1951 but lived to see his dream become the Pensacola Dam and Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees.

Interview with Dr. Bruce Howell

Program Credits:
Dr. Bruce Howell— Interviewee
John Erling — Interviewer
Mel Myers — Announcer

Honest Media
Mel Myers — Audio Editor

Müllerhaus Legacy Website Team
Douglas Miller — Art Director
Mark DeMoss — Webmaster
Laura Hyde — Upload Coordinator

Date Created: December 2, 2014

Date Published: July 31, 2015

Notes: Recorded by John Erling in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Digital Audio Sound Recording, Non-Music.

Tags: President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), Pensacola Dam, Wesley Disney, President Calvin Coolidge, Cherokees, Osage, Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA), Works Progress Administration (WPA), Governor Leon “Red” Phillips, Henry Holderman, W.R. Holway, John Duncan Forsyth