New Updates

The Discussion Board: Save the Redridge Dam: New Updates
By Cindy M ( on Saturday, February 23, 2002 - 10:56 am:

The past several weeks have brought some new contacts into the project and further refined our plans. We have managed to spread word of this project and it has sparked alot of interest! Thanks to all you talkers out there for helping!

Contact with the Houghton Keweenaw Conservation District has been quite helpful! We are looking into funding sources and Rep. Rich Browns office has contacted me through them. Everyone agrees this is an interesting and worthwhile project.

We have been contacted by a professional engineer from downstate with some ties to the area and experiance with dams, he has provided interesting insight and ideas and may even pay us a visit!

The search for info on the 1953 repairs has sort of stalled- we found collateral evidence that proves something was done but havent been able to find details. We will continue that search with the formidable help of Mr. Nordberg at the Tech Archives.

An energetic contact from the SHPO caused me to receive a phone call from Washington D.C., something that doesnt happen everyday at my house! A representative of the Historic American Engineering Record called about the project. He was surprised to hear me tell him that we have the largest steel dam in the world here in Redridge and was intrigued by our story. He will try to get a photographer up here this summer to document the site in photos for the record.

Bill Yrjana, a local resident and member of the Torch Lake Public Action Committee, has contacted the EPA to determine the extent of the sites involvement with the Torch Lake Area of Concern Superfund project. The PAC believes the Salmon Trout watershed and the dam site are part of the project and there is concern about the possibility of contaminated sediments being released if the dam is breached. We await response from the EPA on this and do not have confirmation. The stampsands on the shoreline are a part of the TLAOC and are slated to be remediated in coming years under phase III of that process.

All of these contacts and interest are keeping me busy and quite hopeful that our project will take off! Cindy

By Paul Meier ( on Saturday, February 23, 2002 - 2:39 pm:

The Redridge dams are up stream, literaly, in the copper milling process. There should be no unnatual copper bearing sediments in the containment. The exception would be if some poor rock was used in the construction. The mill tailings were carried into Superior not into the containment.
Torch Lake is the exception in the Copper Country. The mills operating along its shores eventually used flotation and ammonia leaching processes, since Torch Lake is reatively small, the chemicals probably concentrated.
We must remember, with the exception of White Pine, native copper was mined here. Poor rock and stampsand differ very little from the country rock the Keweenaw is made from. Plants, animals, and humans have lived long and prospered in close contact with poor rock and stampsand for the past 150 years. There are those among us who immediately conclude that if it was mined it must be an abomination to the environment.

By Cindy M ( on Saturday, February 23, 2002 - 5:50 pm:

Paul, I agree with most of what you say. The local lore does have stories of a bunch of cars sunk out there though and the railroad beds within the watershed may contribute some contamination. For our purposes, it may be just another point on our side to convince some to leave the impoundment in place, with any suspected contamination already remediated and contained. and thats good. Cindy

By Marc ( on Sunday, February 24, 2002 - 1:35 am:

Good point, Cindy. If anyone is concerned about contamination, that's a good argument for leaving the impoundment and restoring the dam behind steel sheeting driven in on the upstream side.

I was also thinking if the sheeting idea is used, any poor rock or piping used in previous restorations would have to be mapped out pretty accurately.

One more week and I get to come home and actually look at the dam, again!!

By Cindy M ( on Thursday, March 07, 2002 - 9:13 am:

March 7 update: Last night the Stanton Township Board approved a grant application to the DEQ's Coastal Management Program for preliminary engineering studies to begin Oct 1 on the wooden dam. We should hear from DEQ in July sometime if we are approved for funding and can begin to look at design options. Now we need to focus on combining lots of other funding and donations to fund the final designing and construction. The PE I mentioned has been most helpful in sending funding ideas our way and the HK Conservation District has continued to contribute good contacts and ideas. We will present to their Board on March 13.

The EPA responded that the site is a part of the AOC but does not qualify for Superfund funding. They are in a hurry to get the Torch Lake project de-listed, it will be the first Superfund to be de-listed and adding more to it isnt in their interest at this time anyway, so that looks to be a dead end. Other conservation groups may be interested in funding contamination studies, but I doubt we will pursue that aspect as merely the possibility of contamination is enough to push most over to our side of keeping the impoundment in place; unless it is required to qualify for some funds, then we could look at it again. We will focus on the actual construction as much as possible, and try to avoid a bunch of bureaucratic "studies" which could delay the whole process. The EPA has other funding available that we can pursue.
Send any funding ideas you may have my way and I will keep looking into them! Cindy

By Matt in Lower, MI ( on Thursday, March 28, 2002 - 4:12 pm:

Just kind of FYI -
I think it would be great if HABS/HAER can get up this summer to do better documentation on the dams. They have been out there at one point in the past. The collected information is out on the Library of Congress' website.


If that doesn't work, goto and scroll down to the MICHIGAN--Houghton County--BEACON HILL link.

By Cindy M ( on Saturday, March 30, 2002 - 12:06 am:

Matt, This is great info! Thank you! I will pass it on to my contact at HAER who is trying to get a photographer up here this summer. I wonder why they call it Beacon Hill? Going west, Redridge is first, then Edgemere, then Beacon Hill, then Freda. The dams are definately in Redridge! Granted none of them are very big now! Cindy

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