Q: My retired neighbor has lived all his life in Roanoke and is full of interesting facts. Last fall he told me that part of Carvins Cove was dug out by German prisoners of war. He’s not a tall-tale teller, but that was a new one to me! I enjoy the Cove regularly and I’ve never heard anything about this. Can you uncover any details?
John Wiercioch, Roanoke
A: Thanks for asking, John. The social studies teacher in me loves questions like this. The short answer to your question is yes, there were German prisoners of war who were conscripted to work on Carvins Cove during World War II.
Sarah Baumgardner is the environmental communications coordinator for the Western Virginia Water Authority and confirmed this right away, and sent along several documents and photos.
By the time the prisoners arrived in 1944, the reservoir had been a work in progress for decades. W.W. Boxley Construction Co. completed the 80-foot-high dam in 1928, but a combination of a valleywide drought and the Great Depression put the brakes on the project, and people continued to live in the to-be-submerged community known as the Happy Valley behind the dam for years.
You can learn more about POWs in Salem by reading this story by Roanoke Times reporter Duncan Adams athttp://bit.ly/16W6inG
(all photos credit Sarah Baumgardner, Western Virginia Water Authority