Penn State Road Rules: 'Electric Mountain' visit a powerful experience

June 20, 2003

Editor's note: Here is an excerpt from the second in a series of dispatches by Dana Bauer about Penn Staters who traveled through Iceland and the United Kingdom studying the role of energy resources in economic history.

Llanberis, Wales, UK -- Three quarters of a mile inside "Electric Mountain" in Snowdon National Park, out of the rain but still damp, we watch six massive black turbines -- each the combined weight of the seven largest dinosaurs ever found -- rotate a dizzying 500 times a minute. Their vibration rumbles deep in my chest and throat, and as I step on the metal platform around one of the turbines, a slightly painful buzz travels from my toes to my stomach. Nearby, bright yellow valves the size of Volkswagen Beetles control the flow of water from a glacial lake 600 meters above. In the 1970s, the British government transformed this mountain from slate quarry to hydroelectric powerhouse, commissioning the largest civil engineering project the country had ever seen: the construction of the Dinowig Power Plant.
Read the full dispatch from Research/Penn State at

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Last Updated March 19, 2009