Weiss Dam and Lake are very unique to the power system of Alabama Power for one simple reason; the spillway gates are about four miles from powerhouse.
Because of this, the water is diverted through a one-mile man-made canal, to the forebay of the powerhouse.
When the power plant is generating, the water is then passed through the man-made tailrace channel back to the original riverbed.
The tailrace, containing tail water, is a channel that carries water away from a hydroelectric plant or water wheel.
It is carried away because the water in this channel has already been used to rotate the turbine blades or the water wheel itself.
Weiss Dam drains a watershed area that is located on about 5,300 square miles, and draws water from Northeast Alabama and Northwest Georgia.
It is located near Leesburg in Cherokee County, where the dam was built in July of 1958.
It was built as part of an Alabama Power Company construction program, that would alter the Coosa River in the late 1950’s and the 1960’s.
The Weiss Dam began to generate water on June 5th, 1961, and has continued everyday day since then.
It was named after Fernard C. Weiss, who was a former chief engineer of Alabama Power.
It is a gravity concrete and earth-fill dam, and it is 392 feet in length, and 126 feet in height.
It also includes earth dikes that total over 30,400 feet in length, and because of this, it is a very powerful dam.
It had three generators that have a rating of 29,250 kilowatts each, which provides a total generating capacity of 87,750 kilowatts.
This dam ranks ninth among the 14 hydroelectric generating plants for Alabama Power.
The Weiss Lake, created by the dam, covers over 30,200 acres, and crosses the state of Alabama border into northern Georgia.
This beautiful lake is 52 miles in length and has over a whopping 445 miles of shoreline.
This length of shoreline makes it second to Lake Martin, also part of Alabama Powers system.
Most of Weiss Lake is in Cherokee County, which borders with Etowah County, north of Gadsden, which is located in Alabama Powers Eastern Division.
However, the shoreline is not all that is big about Weiss Dam and Lake, it is also the water level.
The summer pool level of the lake is over 560 feet above sea level, placing it second highest among the reservoirs of Alabama Power.
This is second only to Lake Harris, which is over 790 feet above sea level.
The lake levels of these Dams and Lakes owned by Alabama Power, is regulated by guidelines set by the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.
There are two types of lakes that are formed by Alabama Power Dams, and they include “run of river” and storage.
The major difference between these two types is how the water levels change.
Weiss Lake is a storage lake and because of this, is has seasonally water levels that vary.
The power production that is available for use is enhanced, if the Weiss Dam is maintained at the highest possible level during Alabama’s very hot summer months.
Once this period is over, the lake water levels are lowered.
This is done to provide for room for the rainy season, and also to prevent flooding from hitting the areas around the dam and lake.
If everything is normal during the winter and spring months, the lake is refilled with the rains.
The history of the Weiss Dam and Lake can be traced back all the way to the early 1890’s.
A gentleman named Captain Will Patrick Lay helped to organize the Coosa-Alabama River Improvement Association.
The purpose of this Association was simple; to convince the Federal Government to open the Coosa River to navigation from Mobile to Gadsden Alabama.
In the year 1906 Mr. Lay incorporated the Alabama Power Company, mainly to harness the Coosa’s water power.
6 years later, in 1912, he sold Alabama Power, and his plan was to set on it for several years, until the demand for electricity took off.
It did, right after the economic boom after World War II, and soon after his dream was realized.
In the early 1950’s, Alabama Power finally convinced the U.S. Congress to remove the federal restrictions on the construction of Dams along the Upper Coosa River.
The initial cost of the Weiss Dam and the Lake that it formed was 30 million dollars, and the groundbreaking ceremony for its opening was April 26,1958.
The ceremony was attended by a crowd of over 10,000 people, the Governor, as well as numerous State, Local, and Federal officials,
The lake it created, Weiss Lake, is considered to be by most experts, the “Crappie Capital of the World”, and it has become a major destination for fishermen.
However, there are numerous others species of fish located there as well, and include largemouth bass, spotted bass, as well as white and strip bass.
There is also bluegill, long ear sunfish, as well as numerous types of catfish.
It is considered to be part of the famous Alabama Scenic River Trail, and is one of the best of the Alabama Backroads trips for you and your family.
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