It is a great pleasure to join you for the dedication of this impressive structure. It is particularly satisfying to me, because I had some small part in the legislative action on the Raystown Dam during the years when I was minority leader in the House. There is nothing more satisfying than to see a project on which much legislative time and effort has been expended finally reach completion and begin to benefit people.
I know this sense of accomplishment is shared by the many who have invested so much time, effort and vision in the Raystown Dam Project.
I think we should also recognize the sacrifices made by hundreds of persons who gave up their cottages, homes and farms so that the project could become a reality. Monetary awards could never repay those who relinquished lands and homes of a lifetime. They gave much.
Although this project had been talked about and studied for half a century, I think it could be fairly said that it really started almost 15 years ago, when a bipartisan group of representatives and seniors, including Sen. Scott, met with the Army Engineers and Public Works Committee people in Washington. At that meeting, unity was achieved on the plan, which now becomes a reality.
In the years between, here in the 9th District of Pennsylvania, in Harrisburg and in Washington, many people have worked to make this day possible. It is this kind of bipartisan teamwork which has accomplished so very much in our country and can accomplish much more, given the vision, the dedication and the effort represented here.
This dam and lake are a tremendous asset not along to central Pennsylvania, but to the entire nation.
We have those in the country who cry, “Build no more dams.” There is no need, they say.
How wrong they are! The Raystown Dam is proof of the error in their thinking. It is a perfect example of what an investment of public funds can return in public benefits.
Even though the dam was only partially completed when Tropical Storm Agnes created havoc in Pennsylvania two years ago, it still prevented millions of dollars in flood damage downstream. Army engineers estimate the dam stored sufficient water so that flood levels were reduced by several feet, preventing damage totaling $60 million. In other words, the dam paid for nearly its entire cost even before it began to serve Pennsylvania. But important as flood control is — and certainly anyone who has seen the devastation of a flood knows how important that is — the Raystown Dam has equally great importance for the tremendous recreational benefits its lake will bring to the east.
As the largest lake within the borders of the state of Pennsylvania, Raystown Lake is a magnificent attraction for recreation.
I am already well equipped to use the lake. The executive director of Pennsylvania’s fish commission very thoughtfully sent me a complimentary fishing license. He said they aren’t often issued, so I am truly grateful — and even more so, after learning that alert and dedicated Pennsylvania agents arrested Ulysses S. Grant for fishing without a license when Grant was President of the United States. I’d hate to think what they’d do to a vice president who dared wet a line without proper licensing. So I am very thankful to the state fish commission for providing the necessary protection.
I’m really more of a swimmer than a fisherman, though. And when I look at this beautiful lake building behind the dam, I am looking more through the eyes of one who tries to swim every day. And I like what I see.
The fishing and swimming opportunities, plus the more than 100 miles of scenic shoreline ideal for boating, make it certain that Raystown Lake will be a magnet for millions of people from the nearby metropolitan areas. The lake comes into being at exactly the right time to meet critical needs.
Those who are concerned about the environment and conservation of our wildlife will find great satisfaction in the high quality of the water impounded in Raystown Lake. And they will applaud the thousands of acres being earmarked for wildlife and for the propagation of waterfowl and upland game. This is a precious gain here in the metropolitan east, where cities eat into our recreational reserves with an unslackened appetite.
Those concerned about the high prices of gasoline, and gasoline shortages, will welcome this new recreation area.
It is estimated that some 15 million persons in major eastern cities will be within economical driving distance of Raystown Lake.
It means a real bonus, therefore, in providing a wide variety of recreation at a low cost in terms of energy use.
And my good friend, Congressman Bud Shuster, has been extremely helpful in getting action started in still another beneficial area. As a member of the House Public Works Committee, Bud was able to get the committee to approve his bill for a study of feasibility of using the dam to generate hydro-electric power — which, if possible, would mean still another major benefit from this structure. We are working to get congressional approval for this important study, for by adding power generation the Raystown Dam would not only help ease the power shortage and would do it without added environmental problems.
What a list of impressive benefits! No one here can estimate how many millions of persons will be helped by those benefits in the years ahead.
No one here can estimate for how many years the Raystown Dam will continue to benefit those millions.
But as long as it stands, it will provide massive testimony to the tremendous human good that comes from the marshalling of human resources.
It shows what we can accomplish when we bring together vision, dedication and patient effort, engineering skills and carefully supervised public funding.
That combination has built this country to where it is today. That combination can continue to forge a bright future for our nation. That combination can bring us cleaner air and cleaner water. That combination can continue to build a better nation — if only we as a people put it to work.
One of the prophets of our ages — H.G. Wells — wrote, “The past is but the beginning, and all that is, and has been, is but the twilight of the dawn.” That I firmly believe. So may the Raystown Dam we dedicated here today challenge us to dedicate ourselves to building a better nation and a better world for us all.
The original documents are located in Box 134, folder “June 6, 1974 - Speech, Raystown Dam Dedication, Huntingdon, PA” of the Gerald R. Ford Vice Presidential Papers at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. Copyright Notice The copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Gerald Ford donated to the United States of America his copyrights in all of his unpublished writings in National Archives collections. Works prepared by U.S. Government employees as part of their official duties are in the public domain. The copyrights to materials written by other individuals or organizations are presumed to remain with them. If you think any of the information displayed in the PDF is subject to a valid copyright claim, please contact the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library.