Old Hydro Electric Dam

water leaving the spill waysA couple weekends ago a few friends and I set out to find Liberia’s old hydro electric dam. Back before the war the majority of Liberia’s power came from a dam on the St. Paul River. This provided Monrovia, and surrounding areas, with constant, stable, and relatively cheap power. I’ve even heard that Liberia sold power to neighboring countries, but I haven’t confirmed this. I don’t even know who I’d talk to, to confirm this.

We set out from downtown Monrovia towards Bushrod Island. We weren’t exactly sure how to get there. We crossed over the St. Paul River and turned down the first road. After going for a little while we stopped and asked for directions, and were told we were on the wrong road. We double backed and then continued west on the Bomi Highway to the next major intersection where there’s a yellow church. We turned right (north) here and continued on. We were told to go to Arthington. Unfortunately, the auto tracking feature of my GPS was turned off on this trip, so I don’t have a track to share. But it was pretty easy to find we pretty much kept going straight. Every few miles we’d stop and ask if we were on the right track.

church on the way to the hydro damchurch on the way to the hydro dam (3)Once we got to Arthington (N06.50402, W010.67418) we found two old churches that were really pretty. We hopped out and took some pictures. We even found a plaque dedicating the remodeling of one of the churches, commissioned by Mr. Charles Taylor. Both churches were obviously super nice back in their day, so it was cool to see a reminder of how nice Liberia once was. Even with out their roofs, the churches were still being used by the faithful.

church on the way to the hydro dam - Renovated by TaylorWe also ran into some other expats who were mountain biking on the roads. It made me wish I had my mountain bike here. While we weren’t on paved roads the roads were pretty good and we never needed 4×4. The roads did seem to be pretty good for some casual mountain biking.
water leaving the spill waycob webs on the equipment that controls the gatesThe mountain bikers confirmed that we were on the right road to the dam and so we pressed on. As I remember we took a right in Arthington, and then kept going straight. To get to the dam we had to cut across a football field at one point. After another 15 minutes we made it to the dam (N06.51046, W10.65098).  Again, it was another run down monument to what Liberia once was. All the dynos, transformers, and other electrical equipment had been looted, but the spill ways and the dam itself were all still intact. About half of the spill ways were closed and half open, making some rapids in an otherwise calm St. Paul River. We saw a fishrman with a net standing in a pocket of still water between an open and closed spill way.  He climbed down there from the dam. I don’t think it was an OSHA approved work environment.

There were a few Liberians on the dam and we talked to them for a minute. They told that there is a road from Caldwell to the dam, but a bridge had gone out and that it was no longer passable.

church on the way to the hydro dam (4)Both the dam and the churches were really cool to see and made for a great day trip. A strong recommendation for a “touristy, get out of Monrovia” activity.

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0 Responses to Old Hydro Electric Dam

  1. Rusty says:

    Did you guys go to the building that housed the turbines too? It’s a bit of a hike from the dam. We actually got there through Todee/Bensonville so we started at the earth dam & hydro plant and hiked over to the dam that is still functioning (sort of). http://www.lairdblog.com/2010/04/mount-coffee.html