A Look Back: Building Lake Anna

In this A Look Back, we found some great pictures of Lake Anna during its construction. Lake Anna as you see it now looked much different 50 years ago. The spot of land that we now call Lake Anna used to be rich farmland in a very rural part of Virginia. It was not until 1968 when Virginia Electric and Power Company (which is now Dominion) purchased over 18,000 acres of land. These 18,000 acres of land would soon become what we see today, Lake Anna.

Virginia Electric and Power Company bought the land with the purpose of building a reservoir to provide clean, fresh water to cool the North Anna Nuclear Generating Station power plant which was to soon be built. In order to do so, Virginia Electric and Power Company had to create the North Anna Dam which dammed up the North Anna and Pamunkey Rivers and in turn created Lake Anna.

Lake Anna is unique in that is has two divided sides, the warm side and the cold side. The warm side (also known as the Private Side) is the part of the lake that is primarily used to cool the nuclear reactors. The reason why it has the nickname of the warm side is because generally the temperatures are on average ten degrees warmer than the cold side. The cold side, or most commonly known as the public side, is cooler, but also the bigger of the two. It has amenities that the warm/private side does not such as marinas, boat launches, restaurants and gas stations on the water.

When construction began, Virginia Electric and Power Company had to clear all of the land and start the building of the North Anna Dam and also the dykes which separate the two sides of the lake as well as the channels which connect the different parts of the warm side. Picture two (2) on the right is of Dyke III, the only spot on the lake where the cold side and warm side connect. There are three dykes and Dyke III is the closest to the North Anna Dam.

Picture number four (4) shows the construction of the channels that interconnect the different sections of the warm side. Because of the topographical nature of the land, channels had to be created to connect the different sections of the warm side.

Pictures one (1), three (3) and five (5) are aerial views of the lake as it was being filled up. It was estimated to take up to three years for Lake Anna to completely fill up. The crews had finished clearing the land which was to be under water when filled up in 1972 and the lake started to fill up with water. With a little help from Hurricane Agnes the lake was filled up in only 18 months, half the time it was expected to.

A special thanks to JC Bane of Mill Run who was kind enough to grant us access to these wonderful photographs.