The Grand River Dam Authority’s current project to upgrade public access areas at the W.R. Holway Reservoir represents a good opportunity to revisit the history, purpose and popularity of this special body of water.

Located in the hills southeast of Salina, the reservoir is attached to GRDA’s Salina Pumped Storage Project (SPSP) and was created in 1968 when that facility -- and a 200-foot earth and rock dam across Chimney Rock Hollow -- was completed.

It is named for the longtime GRDA Consulting Engineer W.R. Holway who was instrumental in the construction of the SPSP, as well as Robert S. Kerr Dam and Pensacola Dam. Holway Reservoir is also referred to as “Chimney Rock Lake” or “Pumpback Lake” by many who frequent its waters.

Using hydroelectric pump-turbines in the SPSP powerhouse, GRDA can fill the reservoir with water from the Saline Creek arm of Lake Hudson.

In times when the water is needed for generation, it is released from the reservoir and flows back downhill, through the pumps, now serving as generators. Essentially, Holway’s waters serve as a battery for GRDA electric generation.

Opened to the public and always a favorite of anglers, Holway is a favorite destination year-round. Although GRDA rules prohibit the use of internal combustion engines and swimming, visitors can be found using canoes, paddles and electric trolling motors to navigate the deep, quiet and clear waters.

However, as is the case with all its hydroelectric facilities, GRDA reminds visitors to Holway Reservoir to be aware of the signs, buoys, sirens, fencing and flashing lights in the area, which are all intended to notify visitors when generators are operating or water is rising swiftly.

Expected to be completed later this year, the new public access upgrades at the reservoir will include a new concrete parking lot, covered pavilion, picnic tables and boat ramp improvements.

These amenities will not only enhance access to the reservoir but also represent GRDA’s continued mission to be a good steward of the natural resources under its control.

If you are looking to spend some quiet time on some scenic Oklahoma waters, consider a visit to GRDA’s W.R. Holway Reservoir.

Headquartered in Vinita, Grand River Dam Authority is Oklahoma’s state-owned electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. GRDA’s power touches 75 of 77 counties in the state. GRDA also manages 70,000 surface acres of lakes in the state, including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir. For more information, persons interested may visit www.grda.com, or http://bit.ly/grda-grandlake.