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Power for Progress: Recognizing their labor

Power for Progress: Recognizing their labor

Their labor lives on
In November 1938, this group of construction workers spent the day drilling rock in the area that would later become the Pensacola Dam switchyard. Today, over 85 years later, their efforts remain an important part of GRDA’s success story. And as Labor Day 2023 approaches, GRDA recognizes all those who have played a role in building and maintaining the organization over the years.

Power for Progress…

A weekly column from the Grand River Dam Authority

Recognizing their labor …


By late summer of 1940 – around Labor Day – the major work on the Grand River Dam Authority’s Pensacola Dam was complete and Grand Lake was a reality. The dream of a hydroelectric facility across the Grand River Valley – first envisioned by Henry C. Holderman and then pursued by many others – had come true.

One of those present to see that dream go from blueprint to reality was Mrs. Francis Hope (Kerr) Holway. She was the wife of William Rea (W.R.) Holway, the longtime consulting engineer for the Grand River Dam Authority. Holway, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), was also the lead engineer on the construction of Pensacola Dam.

When that massive construction project – which provided jobs for thousands of Oklahomans during the Great Depression – was completed, Mrs. Holway put pen to paper to celebrate the monumental achievement. In honor of Labor Day 2023 and the men and women who helped build and maintain the dream as part of Team GRDA ever since, we thought we would share that poem once again. You can also see it for yourself on a plaque, located on the west end of Pensacola Dam.


This Is Man’s Deed


Glorious and eternal

These towers and walls


Dreams of young men

Magnificent in hope

The long and crowded hours

When patient skill

Daring to create

Formed and shaped the plan

And labors heavy round

Brave constancy of toil

Making the vision real

The plan complete


Your friends at GRDA wish you a happy, safe Labor Day weekend.


GRDA is Oklahoma’s largest public power electric utility; fully funded by revenues from electric and water sales instead of taxes. Each day, GRDA strives to be an “Oklahoma agency of excellence” by focusing on the 5 E’s: electricity, economic development, environmental stewardship, employees, and efficiency. 


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