Power for Progress… This Is Man’s Deed

A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

Mrs. Francis Hope (Kerr) Holway was the wife of William Rea (W.R.) Holway, longtime consulting engineer for the Grand River Dam Authority. Mr. Holway, a 1916 graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was the lead engineer on the construction of GRDA’s Pensacola Dam, 1938 – 1940.

When that massive construction project — which provided jobs for thousands of Oklahomans during the Great Depression – was completed, Mrs. Holway, who had been a school teacher, put pen to paper to celebrate the monumental achievement.

And truly it was monumental. After all, Pensacola Dam stretches out for a mile across the Grand River Valley and is defined by its multiple arches which helped land the impressive structure on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003. But all that concrete, all that iron, all that blood, sweat and tears did not just happen. It took the effort of thousands of men and women, working long hours in the sun and heat, rain and wind, dust and smoke, to complete the dam that has benefited so many others throughout the years.

Mrs. Holway forever immortalized those efforts in her poem:

This Is Man’s Deed
Glorious and eternal
These towers and walls
Dreams of young men
Magnificent in hope
The long and crowded hours
When patient skill
Daring to create
Formed and shaped the plan
And labors heavy round
Brave constancy of toil
Making the vision real
The plan complete

This poem is inscribed on a plaque, located on the west end of Pensacola Dam.

Headquartered in Vinita, GRDA is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Directly or indirectly, GRDA’s low-cost, reliable; electricity serves nearly 500,000 homes in Oklahoma and stretches into 75 of 77 counties in the state. At no cost to Oklahoma taxpayers, GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. Today, GRDA’s 500 employees continue to produce the same “power for progress” that has benefited the state for 75 years.

— Justin Alberty
    GRDA Corporate Communications Director

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