With it’s beautiful scenery and it’s public boat launch, it is no surprise that The Ninety Nine Island Hydro Station at 1502 99 Island Rd. is such a popular recreational spot for the residents of Blacksburg, SC. What is a bit of a surprise, however is the fact that the Ninety-Nine Island Dam has been in operation for over 100 years and is on the US National Registry of Historic Places. It won it’s inclusion on the registry in 2001, under the operation of The Duke Power Company.
The property on which the station sits was purchased in 1906 by The Southern Power Company, which would eventually become one of the parent companies of Duke Power. Southern Power acquired the land from the Thomson family of York County, SC. The family had operated a large plantation on The Broad River for generations. Ninety-Nine Island Hydro Station had called this plantation the “Beauty Spot”, and the land purchased from them by Southern Power was only a small part of the old plantation grounds.
Building began in the Spring of 1907 under the direction of the resident engineer, Mr. A.L. Cornell. Stone was quarried from the south bank of Kings Creek nearby, for use in the building of the facilities. By the time they were well underway they had nearly 325 people at work on the structure, a resident physician named Dr. W.A. Broomfield, and a three-story hotel to hold them all.
Sadly, The Southern Power Company experienced some setbacks and had to postpone their work on Ninety-Nine Island. They had another large dam on the Catawba River that required their focus and damages to repair from some seasonal flooding. By 1908, their difficulties had passed and the workers returned under the direction of a new resident engineer named Mr. J.G. Scott and a contractor named Mr. B.H. Hardaway. Their work was finally completed in 1910, and The Ninety-Nine Island Hydro Station began producing electricity.
Since those days, the dam has been updated and repaired a number of times to keep it working safely and efficiently. It received an electrical upgrade in 1989 and more recently, in 2017 it received brand new vintage replica windows from Quaker Windows and Doors. These very specific upgrades allow the hydro station to maintain it’s authentic historical designation while also continuing to produce electricity well into the future.
Directly below the Ninety-Nine Island Dam is a small riverfront park that is open to the public. It offers shade, scenery, parking, and a launch for small boats. It is a lovely place for a picnic, or to launch off from to begin an explorative journey down Broad River. The incline in the paved entry road might also serve as a great tool for cyclists and joggers to add some difficulty into their exercise routines. If you haven’t been there already, I recommend that you visit.
Ninety-Nine Island Hydro Station, 1502 99 Island Road, Blacksburg, SC 29702
Crawford, Kim. “Historic Plant Gets New Windows To The World” Duke Power. Sept. 25, 2017. Duke Power Company. Sept. 15, 2018[www.illumination.duke- energy.com]
Huff, Jennifer. “Hydro Hall of Fame: Celebrating 100 Years at Ninety-Nine Islands”. Hydro Review. July 01, 2010. Pennwell Corporation. Tulsa, OK. Sept. 15, 2018 [www.hydroworld.com]
“Letter from Union County: Effects of the Warm Weather-The Beauty Spot Plantation-Sugar Cane-Hogs and Dogs” The Yorkville Enquirer Wednesday April 6, 1892, pg 3. [www.newspapers.com]
“Local Affairs” The Yorkville Enquirer Friday, July 12, 1907, pg 2. [www.newspapers.com]
“Over At Ninety Nine” The Yorkville Enquirer Friday, Dec. 18, 1908, pg 1 . [www.newspapers.com]