3 3/4 Miles South of Seneca, SC

Fitzgerald Shoals, Coneross Creek

Construction: 1912

First Operation: Around 1912

Ceased Operation: 1980s

Modernized: 1991

Seneca Light & Power Company: 1912-

In 1912, the Seneca Light & Power Company assessed the construction of a dam at Fitzgerald Shoals 4 miles South of Seneca on Coneross Creek.  The new hydroelectric plant would drive the Seneca Cotton Mills and replace the outdated electric light plant that the town had outgrown. The hydroelectric plant was completed in 1912 with a transmission line leading to the Seneca Cotton Mills. At the Seneca Cotton Mills, a steam boiler would act as an auxiliary, previously operated as general power in the mill. Coneross was held by the Seneca Light & Power Company until handed to future textile mill companies, both operating the mill and its power plant. This lasted until the 1980s when the textile industry moved overseas. Seneca's once grand mill became a storage facility and still is today. In the early 1990s, ENEL America sought to modernize the hydroelectric operation recently ceased by the textile company. In 1991, the group demolished the original brick powerhouse and transformer house at Coneross due to the deteriorated conditions. A steel-framed sheet metal building was constructed on the foundations for the new powerhouse, the transformer house foundation became a new station to sell the electricity to Duke Energy, the penstock was rebuilt to its present state, and the head gates were modernized at the dam. Coneross still produces electricity, weather the generators are original or not is currently unknown.


The original powerhouse was constructed in 1912 by the Seneca Light & Power Company. The foundation was set with cement, two arches toward the tailrace show that the building was most likely similar to Holiday Shoals powerhouse. The structure was of handmade brick and windows were similar to those seen at Berry Shoals powerhouse, a light arch topped them. Two sets of horizontal turbines and generators of unknown voltage were installed and operated by 1912. Power was transmitted a short distance uphill to the transformer house where it was stepped-up and transmitted to Seneca.

Industries & Towns Provided with Electricity (1912)

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

Transmission Lines, Poles & Insulators

The transmission line exited the transformer house on the hill from Northwest side and spanned over the Coneross Creek valley in a nearly direct route to the Seneca Cotton Mills. No evidence of heavy pole line construction or tower construction was shown on either side of the creek on the hill sides just after leaving the transformer house. It is assumed that heavy construction was used on both sides of the valley to support the crossing, which was the only major obstacle along the route. There are no significant remains of the transmission line in modern day and it is likely when the textile company moved out of the mill in the 1980s, dismantled and shutdown the small hydroelectric project and transmission lines. Historic USGS aerial imagery identified that is was a single pole line of three-phase construction in a relatively straight course to the destination. Broken insulators found at the current day site of the transformer house are M-3060 or similar M-3065 manufactured by Victor in a red/brown glaze. Large wood pins were used instead of the common Lee pin assembly. At the Seneca Cotton Mill, the line entered into a transformer house near the boiler house behind the mill. The current was stepped down for incandescent lighting and electric motors inside of the mill as well as street lights and electric service in the mill village of Utica and the town of Seneca.