1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



One Man Dreams Of Power
At Muddy Creek Mill Site

Charles A. Goddard - Submitted by Ward Parker
June 16, 2016

Raymond Tuckwiller tests oxygen levels in Muddy Creek

Once there were nine mills humming on Muddy Creek between Piercy's Mill (located near Asbury) to Alderson — now there are none.

Rookstool Mill was one of those nine mills. It was built in' the 1800s and continued to operate until sometime in the 1920s. There was a grist mill, woolen factory, and an up-and-down saw mill there. All of these operations derived their power from a 152-square-mile drainage area flowing into Muddy Creek.

Raymond Tuckwiller, a Greenbrier County man who has circumnavigated the world four times, has dreams of once again making Muddy Creek a productive stream. He plans to build an electric generating plant at the old Rookstool Mill site, located just, a few miles north of Alderson on Route 12.

Mr. Tuckwiller' s dreams, fired by a strong pioneering work ethic, came closer to reality when he filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission September 5. His project plans have actually taken him several years to develop. Many late hours are spent by Mr. Tuckwiller and his wife Karen as they pore over volumes of Federal regulations and decipher pages of highly technical material. Their three young sons, William, Thomas and Nelson have long been in bed while the Tuckwiller consolidate their dreams of power — electric power that is.

Raymond Tuckwiller received a degree in business from Rutgers. He had been accepted at two prestigious engineering schools before finally deciding upon a career in business and choosing Rutgers. Later he attended Columbia University. He helped pay for his own education by raising sweet corn. Upon graduation, Mr. Tuckwiller felt he didn‘t want to settle down to a work-a-day job so he entered the U. S. Coast Guard. He is a certified Merchant Marine Seaman. It wasn't long before he found "himself in Chittagong, Bangladesh, on the Bay of Bengal in "south-east Asia. He worked there as a crane operator on an LST barge. Later he was to spend time in Vietnam and even later, he worked on oil rigs operating heavy equipment.

Coming back to the States, he worked on steam boats on the Ohio and Mississippi rivers as an assistant engineer. He took advantage of instruction offered by the manufacturers of large engines and equipment and immersed himself in their technology. So, when it comes time for Mr. Tuckwiller to install his turbines to power the “Kincaid Hydro Project" on Muddy Creek, he plans to build them himself. The project was named for Roy Kincaid ". . . a fine old man. He was up in his 90s when he died. He ‘remembered the old mill here and explained a lot of it to me. It was out of respect for that I named this the "Kincaid Hydro Project."

Most of the technology Mr. Tuckwiller employs comes from his own fertile creativity and native abilities. He is approaching this proposed power plant much like the original builders of mills in this area did in the early 19th Century — he knows how to achieve what is necessary.

Plans call for the reconstruction of the Rookstool Mill dam to its original configuration. Part of the dam has already been rebuilt and Mr. Tuckwiller spends three days a week at the dam taking readings on the stream required by the federal government.

“Assuming all goes well we'll  get our license in September 1991. We will be in production by September 1993.” Mr. Tuckwiller says. Once the license is granted, actual construction of the wicket gates and power house can begin. Plans call for the installation of three induction generators —a 15-kilowatt generator placed in the dam itself and 70-kilowatt and a 65-kilowatt generators in the power house. A 7,200-volt transmission line 1,055 feet long will also be installed.

What will Mr. Tuckwiller do with the approximately 853,200 kilowatt-hours per year he will  generate? It will be sold to the West Virginia Power Company and fed into their power grid—part of it might ultimately end up in your home. The commercial power company is required by federal law to purchase power generated by an installation such as the one Mr. Tuckwiller is proposing. That law dates back to 1976 when a plan was developed in Washington to make this nation “energy independent“ by i980. It was a time when oil prices were high and an emphasis was placed on ways to produce power cheaply and independently. When the oil prices came back down, interest in small generating plants waned.

Mr. Tuckwiller, however, kept up an active interest in non-polluting electrical power generation and he began making his plans then.

Raymond Tuckwiller perseveres. He continues the long and laborious application process in order to fulfill his dream of  power from Muddy Creek. Perhaps, in a few years, the power that lights our homes in this area will come from Raymond Tuckwiller's Kincaid Hydro Project. When it does happen. you can mark one up for West Virginia ingenuity.

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