2 1/2 Miles South of Startex, SC (Tucapau, SC)

Berry Shoals, South Tyger River

Constructed 1900-1903, First Operation around 1900

Tucapau Mills

In 1895 the newly organized the Tucapau Mills (Tucapau means "Indian Weaver"), with Dr. Charles E. Fleming elected president, constructed a cotton mill, dam and mill village on the banks of the Middle Tyger River. The first source of power driving the mill was from damming the river and diverting the water current to drive two water wheels. Around 1900, Tucapau Mills decided to expand their productivity by constructing another mill as an addition to the first. Instead of driving the second mill with hydraulics, it was decided to build a hydroelectric power plant thus powering both mills and the town of Tucapau. Engineer Stuart W. Cramer took charge of the project and the idea of hydroelectric power was most likely from examples at Columbia, SC (1893), Pelzer, SC (1895) and Portman Shoals (1897). Berry Shoals on the South Tyger River was chosen for the new dam, power plant and a 2 1/2 mile transmission line to Tucapau. Work on damming Berry Shoals, digging a flume and constructing the powerhouse began in 1900 with slow progress. The Startex Tucapau Historical Society states that the plants first operation was in 1900 providing electricity to the mill. On June 6th, 1903, a large flood caused by heavy rains flooded both the Middle and South Tyger River valleys. Flood waters ruined the first floor of the Tucapau Mill and Berry Shoals dam suffered minor damage. Shortly after the unfortunate event, repairs were done to both the mill and dam and operations continued. The design of the powerhouse was changed later providing additional room for more generating units.

Berry Shoals was in use until 1964 when the power plant became too outdated and the power made was no longer in demand as it had been for Tucapau. In the mid-1980s, the Bluestone Energy Design Inc. was interested in the Berry Shoals property to bring it back into operation (According to a 1994 FERC report). Several repairs and modifications were done to the plant, stripping the interior of the powerhouse and transformer house and repairing the canal gates. In the powerhouse, the generators were removed and stripped of copper wiring. In the transformer house, a corner of the building was smashed to quickly clear it of the outdated electrical apparatus. In the early to mid 1990s, Bluestone's project fell through and the property was once again abandoned. Today the Berry Shoals property is owned by the Startex-Jackson-Wellford-Duncan Water District (SJWD). The powerhouse has been partially refurbished with a new roof, lighting and electrical outlets. Today the powerhouse is in a forgotten state, half-way refurbished by the water district with unknown intention. Vandals haven't discovered the building, leaving it to tell its story to all visitors.


The first generating set included one 1,200 KW, 10,000 volt, three phase, 40 cycle, General Electric generator connected to two 27" McCormick turbines installed in 1900 (from The Startex Tucapau Historical Society). The original plans of Berry Shoals powerhouse shows the two set-ups of the McCormick turbine and generator configuration on either sides of the powerhouse, one set was to be a future installation. After the Tyger flooded in 1903, plans may have changed and the future installation was replaced with a different single, large turbine with generator creating additional room for another future set. This design created room for a maximum of three generators, only two were installed. A switchboard located in the center of the powerhouse displayed gauges, switches and other equipment for the generators and outbound electrical current. From the powerhouse, the electricity was transmitted uphill to a transformer house, then on a transmission line approximately 2 1/2 miles long to the Tucapau.

Industries & Towns Provided with Electricity (1903)

Tucapau, SC - Town of Tucapau and the Tucapau Mills (Cotton).

Transmission Lines, Poles & Insulators

(to be continued)

Photographic Tour and History of the Berry Shoals Power Plant





Downhill Penstock

Transformer House & Penstock

Penstock & Powerhouse