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The dam at Roanoke Rapids


  • Commercial operations began in 1955.
  • The facility is located on Roanoke Rapids lake, which is created by the power station dam.
  • The lake is supplied by water from the Roanoke River that is regulated eight miles upstream by Dominion Energy's Gaston Hydro Power Station and Gaston Dam.
  • When water is allowed to pass from the lake through the powerhouse, the station's four generators can produce up to 95 megawatts.
  • The station can produce as much electric power in one hour as about 10 average homes use in one year.
  • It took 245,000 cubic yards of concrete to build the dam—the equivalent of a sidewalk six feet wide and 189 miles long.
  • The power house rests atop a rock foundation 70 feet above sea level and rises at its crest to an elevation of 142 feet above sea level.

Additional Facts & Specifications


  • Length: 3,050 feet
  • Maximum height: 72 feet
  • Crest gates
    • Type: Radial
    • Number: 24

Reservoir: (Characteristics at 132 feet elevation at dam)

  • Length of reservoir: 8 miles
  • Length of shoreline: 47 miles
  • Maximum width: 1.25 miles
  • Storage: 77,000 acre-feet
  • Reservoir surface: 4,600 acres

Elevations: (Feet above mean sea level)

  • Top of dam: 142
  • Base of dam: 70
  • Base of power house: 7
  • Bottom of tailrace: 15
  • Normal full power pool: 132

River flows at dam site:

  • Average annual flow: 8,000 cu. ft per sec.
  • Maximum flow of record (8/18/1940): 261,000 cu. ft. per sec.
  • Minimum flow of record (12/16/1955): 250 cu. ft. per sec.
  • Turbine discharge capacity: 20,000 cu. ft. per sec.

Power house generating units:

  • Four adjustable blade propeller-type turbines: 36,000 hp, 74.5-feet head, 128.6 rpm
  • Four generators @ 23,750 kw each
  • Total generating capacity: 95 megawatts
  • Turbine generator manufacturer: General Electric Co.
  • Engineering and construction: Stone & Webster/Chas. T. Main, Inc.

View Historic Documentation for Roanoke River & Gaston Dams, Canal & Locks.

Hydropower License

Eel Ladders

In the spring of 2010, Dominion Energy installed two eel ladders on its Roanoke Rapids Hydro station to allow American eels to continue their journey to their historic habitat in the Roanoke River basin. View this video for details.

Recreation Resources

A wide variety of recreational resources are available on or near Lake Gaston and Roanoke Rapids Lake.

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