Huntington County saw an influx of people this weekend as thousands gathered to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Raystown Dam’s dedication on June 6, 1974.
A weekend full of entertainment and recreation drew people from near and far, all anxious to partake in a series of special events which included Raystown Dam tours, Raystown history programs, a battle of the bands at Seven Points Amphitheatre, and Fireworks at the Beach sponsored by Seven Points Marina.
Raystown Lake is the largest lake located entirely within Pennsylvania, offering 8,300 surface miles of water surrounded by 21,000 acres of forested mountain slopes.
The multi-purpose lake was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1972; only a year after the original dam constructed in 1907 was destroyed.
A large attraction during the anniversary festivities were the guided tours of Raystown Dam, which were provided June 6 and 7 by Corps park rangers. The dam tours included access to the spillway and interior galleries, which have been closed to the public since before the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.
“In the community there is an intense curiosity to see the spillway structure. They want to see what operates the lake, the control room,” said Tara Whitsel, Raystown Lake park ranger. “It’s exciting to see their interest. It’s been overwhelming and it gives us the opportunity to share information on Raystown.”
The dam tours and anniversary festivities are only one part of Raystown Lake’s larger recreational mission. Raystown Lake’s Seven Points Recreational Area is home to the Raystown Lake Visitor’s Center, which provides area information, an interactive exhibition area, and the Raystown Reflections Gift Shoppe.
The Huntington Country Visitors Bureau operates the information desk within the Visitor’s Center. Together with the Corps, they welcome and service 1.6 million travelers per year.
The partnership between the two organizations has proven to be mutually beneficial.
“Raystown Lake is the largest tourist attraction in Huntingdon County, and we work closely with USACE staff to help them promote their ranger programs, water safety messages, and all of the public recreation opportunities that the lake has to offer,” said Matt Price, Executive Director of the Huntingdon County Visitors Bureau. “The construction of Raystown Lake literally changed the physical, economic, and social landscape of Huntingdon County 40 years ago, and we feel it is a story worth telling and celebrating, especially while some of the people involved are still with us to tell it first-hand.”
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has added additional Raystown Dam tour dates throughout the months of June and July, after tours scheduled during the 40th anniversary weekend were quickly booked to capacity. For more information or additional questions about Raystown Dam tours, contact The Corps of Engineers at (814)658-6809 or email email@example.com.