March 19th, 2009 12:09 AM by Jason Compton
The lake is named after William Murray, the engineer who, with his partner T.C. Williams,
conceived and persevered until 'the world's largest earthen dam' at that time was finished.
Their vision of harnessing hydro-olectric power here and at the Santee Cooper project
brought abundant electricity to the middle part of South Carolina. Work on the dam across
the Saluda River was started on September 21, 1927 and was finished on June 30, 1930.
The river begins near the North Carolina border. As it runs to the sea, it fills Greenville
Water Reservoir, Greenwood Lake, and then Lake Murray. Past the dam, the Saluda joins the
Congaree and Wateree rivers to flow to the Atlantic Ocean. The dam itself was built over
200 feet tall. It runs a distance of a mile and a half across. The ground level of the
dam is over a quarter of a mile thick. The lake that it forms is forty one miles long and,
in places, over fourteen miles wide. State Highway 6 runs along the top of the dam, giving
a panoramic view of the water on one side and the layout of the SCE&G Power Plant below.
Today it is a vast area of water after a new survey covering 78+ square miles, 600+ miles
of shore line and approximately 50,000 acres of land. In 2004, a new project was started
to build a completely new backup dam behind the old one, that could prevent a catastrophe
in case of earth quakes. This new dam was completed in 2005. Work is progress is to make
both dams a roadway for Route 6, with the old dam one way to the south, and the new dam
one way to the north. To make the building of the lake possible more than 1000 tracts of land
were acquired and 5,000 people's homes were relocated. In its conception, it gave jobs
and cheap electricity to the people of the Midlands of South Carolina, and in it's
enduring, gives everyone a lasting beauty and enjoyment which is currently called the
Jewel of South Carolina.