After almost two years of being closed to accommodate an electrical cable upgrade project, TVA’s Raccoon Mountain Visitor Center reopens to the public with new exhibits on Saturday. The visitor center is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily this summer, and is ADA accessible.
“We are excited to see the visitor center reopen,” says Ken Cornett, senior manager at TVA’s Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Facility. “I think the public will be eager to see the new displays and stand out on the observation deck and see the great view of the river gorge.”
TVA closed the Raccoon Mountain Visitor Center about two years ago to install new electrical cables down the 38-floor elevator shaft that would connect the electrical generators inside the mountain to the power grid.
"Folks may not realize that the visitor center is a working part of the facility, but it is,” says Mr. Cornett. “We ran several thousand feet of new electrical cable through the center and down the elevator shaft to the generators 1,500 feet below.”
Mr. Cornett explains that the new cables are safer and lighter than the ones they replace because the cables are air cooled versus oil cooled. “Safety is essential to TVA, and these new cables increase the safety and reliability of this facility,” says Mr. Cornett. That’s critical, as Raccoon Mountain is key to helping TVA supply reliable and affordable power to homes and businesses throughout the Valley, said officials.
Over the years, tens of thousands have visited the center, and now they again have access to displays explaining Raccoon Mountain, TVA’s history and its activities today. Two new displays include updated photos and videos that describe TVA and its operations.
“We are very proud of the visitor center,” says Tony Giggy, BVI project manager for visitor centers. BVI is TVA’s retiree organization dedicated to educating the public about TVA. “The majority of our volunteers are TVA retirees and they will be able to share firsthand knowledge of TVA and its operations.”
Mr. Giggy notes that, “One of the key features of the center is the large map of the TVA River System that allows visitors to track how water flows through the Tennessee Valley.”
While the Raccoon Mountain Visitor Center is a learning opportunity, access to the equipment inside the mountain is not available for safety and security reasons. However, visitors can take virtual video tours of Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Facility, as well as more traditional hydroelectric generation facilities, via a monitor inside the visitor center.
About the Raccoon Mountain Pumped-Storage Facility
Visitor Center Hours—Daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET from April through October; 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. November through March. Closed for major holidays and during adverse weather events.
Facility Construction—Began in 1970 and completed in 1978
Reservoir—Holds 107+ billion gallon and takes 28 hours to fill up
Dam—8,500-foot-long; largest rock-fill dam ever built by TVA
Intake tower—230 ft. high; 80 ft. taller than the Statue of Liberty
Electrical Generation—1,600 MW or enough to power 935,000 homes
Recreation Trails—30 miles of biking and hiking trails