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GRDA Ecosystems & Education Center

The GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center (Kyle Williams Boating Safety Classes)

GRDA Eco Center
420 HWY 28
Langley, OK 74350
918.782.4726
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About the Ecosystems & Education Center

On the scenic shores of Grand Lake — just an angler’s cast from the historic Pensacola Dam — a new building, devoted to greater ecosystems management and education in the lake region, is now open for business.

For GRDA, the new Ecosystems & Education Center is the latest tool in six years’ worth of efforts to bring a greater focus to lake management issues.

With nearly 70,000 surface acres of water under its control along the Grand River (including Grand Lake, Lake Hudson and the W.R. Holway Reservoir), GRDA has a responsibility to be a good steward of natural resources.

The building includes a state-of-the-art water quality laboratory, which will be the foundation for GRDA’s stewardship efforts, as well as its new “face” on the lake. Beyond the lab, there is much more to the facility that will be beneficial to the lake area residents and visitors. For those preparing to build a dock, anglers hoping to schedule a tournament, or others seeking lake-related permits for Grand or Hudson lakes, the new building will also offer “one stop permit shopping.”

As the new next door neighbor to historic Pensacola Dam, the building is the starting point for the popular free tours of the dam, offered during the summer months. Each year thousands of visitors get an up-close and personal look at Oklahoma’s first hydroelectric facility and member of the National Register of Historic Places.

Another aspect of the building that cannot be overlooked is the large auditorium/community meeting space. While future public meetings can still be taken on the road the new auditorium provides more of a permanent home for the larger gatherings, as well as space for other presentations, events, etc. In conjunction with the building’s exhibit space, and the next-door tours of historic Pensacola Dam, the auditorium will likely serve as one large classroom for presentations on ecosystems management, hydroelectric power, water and/or electric safety, and the history of the Grand River region.

Ultimately, there are many goals for the new GRDA Ecosystems & Education Center, but they all come together under one primary goal: To provide the GRDA lakes region with a new resource to manage natural resources.

Come See Historic Pensacola Dam

GRDA offers free tours of historic Pensacola Dam seven days a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so this summer would be a great time to visit us! If you are looking for a fun, free and educational activity, here’s what you can expect …

First of all, during an opening video presentation in the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center (where free Pensacola dam tours originate) expect to learn more about the men and women who first envisioned and later constructed the dam. Depression-era labor built Pensacola at a time when electricity was still considered a luxury for many Oklahomans and the video contains much information about those construction days, as well as black and white photos showing the men and women who donated blood, sweat and tears to turn the idea into a reality.

As you head towards the powerhouse you can also expect to look out across from the top of the mile-long dam as it stretches from Langley to Disney, across the Grand River Valley. This is the southern end of Grand Lake O’ the Cherokees, a 46,500 surface-acre lake that attracts thousands and thousands of visitors every year.

Once inside the powerhouse, you sort of step back in time. The art deco design is evident on the generator floor where Oklahoma’s oldest hydroelectric units (upgraded in the late 1990s) still play a vital role in power production for GRDA customers. Believe it or not, when the dam was being built, many critics felt it would produce more power than GRDA could ever market. Today, the low-cost, reliable electricity produced by Pensacola amounts to a small portion of GRDA’s overall production.

Walk outside the powerhouse and you have a good view of the dam’s impressive and colossal arches. There are 51 of them, stretching the length of river valley, holding back the waters that create Grand Lake and giving Pensacola Dam its unique look. That “look” along with the important role the dam has played in Oklahoma’s development since 1940, are key reasons Pensacola is listed on the National Register for Historic Places.

Come see for yourself.

For more tour information, stop by the GRDA Ecosystems and Education Center in Langley. If you plan to take the tour, bring a form of ID (18 and over) and wear comfortable shoes for walking. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the building will be open 9AM to 4PM. You can also visit online at grda.com or email tours@grda.com.

Dam Tours

GRDA is proud offer FREE TOURS of our historic Pensacola Dam.
GRDA is proud to offer FREE TOURS of our historic Pensacola Dam.
During the summer (between Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays), tours are given seven days a week including holidays, from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Tours originate from the GRDA Lake Patrol office, located above the powerhouse on the west end of the dam in Langley, OK.

Contact the GRDA Tour Office at
(918) 782 4726 or tours@grda.
 
Tours do require a lot of walking, several flights of stairs, and last about one hour.
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