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Construction Work of Lipno Dam

The area of the Upper Vltava river used to be a lake in the Tertiary. The disintegrated natural dam between the Devil´s Wall and Mount Luč had been broken by the flush, and river-beds were made. There are many records about floods in the period from the 17th to the 19th century in chronicles which belonged to villages spread between the location of Frymburk and Vyšší Brod. The most destructive floods might have been in 1740 and 1890. The first step how to use water power was timber floating. Another way how to use the Upper Vltava river were mills and hammer-mills. There were about 23 of them on the way between Frymburk and Vyšší Brod. The history of Lipno dam dates back to the year 1890 (after the great floods). In 1892 Eng. Daniel published a brochure, in which he suggests building smaller dams on the Upper Vltava river and its tributaries in order to avoid floods. Jan Jirsík, a structural councillor, and the House of the Bohemia Kingdom had dealt with the idea concerning the work of construction, and in 1899 they suggested building several dams. The project had been negotiated, but farmers refused to sell their lands.

The idea to build the dam or dams which would hold spring melting water from the Bohemian Forest reawaken again after the great floods in 1920. In 1930 Office Provincial Engineers designed the dam construction work on Lipno reservoir in their projects. They did not succeed in buying out the flooded area again. The project regarding the dam with hydroelectric turbine on Lipno reservoir was developed after the Second World War: after the Germans had been transported and the paper mill of Loučovice nationalised. Construction work of the dam and subterranean power station started in 1950. Bubla, a foreman, and his five miners moved into the inn owned by Anna Houfková. Their dynamite charges blasted off granite boulders and pulled out blocks of wood with tangle of roots. Nowadays it seems impossible that students "members of the Socialist Youth Movement" had fixed a flag of the Socialist Youth Movement on the rock and sung the anthem of the Socialist Youth Movement before they started their every day work. They used pickaxes, shovels and wooden wheelbarrows to remove the rock near Frymburk in order to build the road leading from Lipno to Frymburk in the future.

Josef Zenáhlík´s treasonous group is closely connected with the work of construction. MUDr. Josef Zenáhlík was sentenced to a four-year prison by the Regional Court House of České Budějovice in April 1954. Eng. Antonín Behemský was sentenced to a two-year prison due to the state secret jeopardy. In 1953 successive cofferdams were sunk into the dam bottom under the personal supervision of Alois Voráček, 65, a cofferdammer. At the same time packing screen shafts were hollowed out and the block of gravitation was built up. During one year 130 cubic metres of boulders, earth and granite were broken. To break a tunnel always means a festive event to navviers. During the night (from 10 to 11 January 1956) navviers broke the last meter of the out-flowing tunnel. After the work had been done, they shook their hands and drank a toast (a bottle of rum). It lasted three and half years to break, dig and blast the tunnel. Each navvy had saved his percentage of his wages for three and half years. When the work had been over, they drank up their common savings.

Approximately 550 hectares had to be cut down and deforested in the particular flooded zone. The area was as large as 550 main squares of České Budějovice. In 1956 about 25,000 cubic metres of wood were mined from moor-lands. In October 1956 Prague Energovod started to mount one hundred-volt electricity distribution in the underground. In the middle of January 1957 they started to break rock in the subterranean power station and mount the turbine generator at the compensator of Vyšší Brod. Concrete work had been six months delayed from the very beginning. People were worried the dam would not hold spring melting in 1958. In the end of September 1957 work on the cross tunnel was completed eight months earlier than it had been originally planned. On 26 June 1958 the last block of the dam was spread with concrete up to the road level. Altogether 70,000 cubic metres of concrete, 600 tonnes of steel and 300 tonnes of machine apparatus were placed there. At last on 1 September 1958 the construction site of the first turbine was passed over to Elektrostroj Brno. At first four parts of a steel spiral were let down with a lift in the cross tunnel into the underground. Then each part was dropped onto the turbine bottom through the generator opening. In the second half of September all four parts of the steel spiral were welded into a thirty-tonne whole.

On Monday 15 June 1959 at 5.55 p.m. the first cubic metres started up the turbine blades. The rotor (350 tonnes) started to operate. The fitters had not slept for several days. After a while the trail run had been stopped, and they went to sleep. When they had had a good long sleep, they went to the pub. Then some medals and diplomas were given out. First megawatts of power were passed into the mains electricity supply. It lasted sixty seconds, just one minute, and the generator started to pass the full output into the mains electricity supply. The second turbine started to operate just before Christmas 1959. In the newspaper there was written : "Both Francis´s turbines at the power of 120 kW on Lipno dam operate with no troubles and supply our power industry."

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Further information:
History of the Vyšší Brod Region
Vltava River
History of Rafting in the Český Krumlov Region
Lipno Dam
History of the hydro plant Lipno
Lipno nad Vltavou