Clemson Intervenes

Tilman Flood.JPG

This 1956 political cartoon was published in The State to add humor to the ongoing debate between Clemson College and The Army Core of Engineers. 

Clemson College sat on the banks of the Seneca River when the Hartwell project began. Since the idea was conceived, administrators from the college realized that a dam in Hartwell meant that the Seneca was going to flood to form the reservoir. The first line of communication was opened on September 20, 1949 when H.E. Glenn, Vice Director of the Engineering Research Station of Clemson College, sent a letter to the United States Engineer’s Office in Savannah, Georgia requesting information on the project and its proposed damages to the college’s bottomlands. In light of the response from Charles F. Trainor from the Army Core of Engineer’s office, Mr. Glenn drafted a memorandum for Dr. Poole, Clemson’s President. The memo listed a wide variety of damages the college would suffer if the project moved forward. In response, Dr. Poole asked the Board of Trustees for permission and appointed two select commissions, the Sewage & Waterworks and Memorial Stadium Committee, to conduct internal research as to the effect on campus under the then-proposed project guidelines. By February of 1951, meetings were underway between the committees and Colonel Robert Erlenkotter, District Engineer for The Army Core of Engineers in Savannah, Georgia. A general understanding that with a revisor backing up to 660 ft., Clemson stood to lose their sewage discharge station, two of three water intake stations, multiple buildings across campus, recently renovated agricultural bottom lands, several bridges and roads, power lines, and Memorial Stadium.

Throughout the course of the next four years, administrators from Clemson were in close contact with the Army Core of Engineers to determine independent agencies that could conduct their own reports, how these investigative projects would be funded, what could be done to protect the irreplaceable parts of campus, and how Clemson would ultimately be compensated for its losses. On June 17, 1955, The Board of Trustees met in the Clemson House and passed a resolution downright opposing the project altogether. Then in October, the Board appointed a committee with the purposes of selecting an attorney and hiring an independent engineering firm. By 1956, Edgar Allen Brown, a South Carolina State Senator, stepped in to help negotiate the differences between the government and the college. [i] Senator Brown was a graduate of Clemson and had been elected as a Life Trustee in 1946. At the State House, the Hartwell sub-committee had been established with Senator Brown as the Chair. He successfully struck a deal with the Assistant Secretary of the Army, George H. Roderick, to have the Department of Agriculture conduct a thorough and comprehensive report of the damages to Clemson so that they could be adequately compensated for their damages. The report was published in June of 1957 and can be found at the Clemson University Library. Ultimately, it was decided that the Seneca River would be diverted, and two earth dikes would be erected to protect the most valuable parts of campus. The Clemson golf-course was also built as a way to sweeten the deal. To this day, the dikes stand as a lasting reminder of the fight Clemson put up to protect their campus.

[i] Unpublished Collection, 1949-1956 Chronology of Hartwell Dam Project: Prepared for the Board of Trustees of Clemson College, Found in the Clemson University Library, Undated, Call Number TK1425.S26.C48