A Lighthouse in the Mountains
Honestly, it all started over a joke. Back in 2009, an interesting fellow from Ontario, Canada by the name of Rick Butler had spent the summer as one of our guests here at the Summersville Lake Retreat while working as part of the crew erecting wind towers at Beech Ridge, a wind farm project in neighboring Greenbrier County, West Virginia. As luck would have it, we were located near the transportation route that the tower components traveled to reach their destination. On more than one occasion, we had marveled at their size as they passed by, just one blade stretched over half the length of a football field! Because of our unique location above the cliffs overlooking Summersville Lake, one evening we offhandedly ribbed Rick that if he would be kind enough to divert one of the tower sections in our direction, that we would keep it and disguise it as a Lighthouse, to which he replied with a classic deadpan expression on his face, “Funny that you say that Mate, we just lost one over the hill.” As it turned out, torrential rains had recently undermined the crib blocks supporting one of the newly delivered tower sections, and it had indeed rolled 75’ down an adjacent hillside, (leveling several medium sized trees in the process), deeming it unsuitable for wind production.
Rick put us onto Geoff Kerr, the Construction Manager at the Beech Ridge project who was instrumental in facilitating our eventual purchase of it from their parent company, Invenergy LLC. Even though we still had to overcome some major obstacles in transporting it back to our location . . . we were ecstatic! We now owned it; now we just had to get it home! By this time, having gotten our first close up “walk through” of our actual tower component, we were taken aback at the sheer size of it. It covered a length of 100’ and weighed almost 72,000 pounds. We had begun to wonder just what we had gotten ourselves into, considering the fact that it took not just one, but two 50 ton crane units simply to unload it off of the truck. But again, Geoff stepped up and introduced us to Art Naatz, Construction Superintendent for White Construction, main contractor at Beech Ridge. He, along with Doug Stoehr, Shawn Woods and the rest of the crew had already assembled over 100 of these units on site and assured us that they were up to the task of transporting it to us.