Once there were nine mills humming on Muddy Creek
between Piercy's Mill (located near Asbury) to Alderson — now there
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
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