Spring RunOff

The CopperRange.org Discussion Board: Save the Redridge Dam: Spring RunOff
By CindyM ( on Friday, April 12, 2002 - 3:53 pm:

Anyone who wants to see the dams really roaring with water should go now! We took alot of pictures this morning. The noise was deafening! The wood dam is holding, even with water just pouring all over it. The water is half way up the holes in the steel dam and battering the concrete pilings..... it shouldnt be there, they werent designed for that! I will try to get a picture up.

The DEQ will be visiting the site May 1 in conjunction with the grant proposal we submitted. CindyM

By David Freeze ( on Friday, April 19, 2002 - 12:16 am:

As someone who enjoys the Copper Country and all its unique structures, it is important to make every attempt to save the Redridge Dam. It would be a great loss to the area to have this happen.

If the dam is repaired could some provision made to construct some pipe or spillway to direct the water through the openings in the steel dam to protect the concrete pilings. Also can the valves that controlled the flow to the stamp mills be opened completley or removed if feasible? Is there any way that the concrete base of the steel dam on the up stream side could be protected by some type of steel plate or other material to prevent it from further erosion?

I imagine that it would be impossible to restore the steel dam to its original state with the higher reservior level as it was when in use.
Dave Freeze

By CindyM ( on Saturday, April 20, 2002 - 12:05 pm:

Hi Dave, Thanks for your comments. Our current concern has to be the wooden crib dam since it is the one holding the impoundment. The agencies involved have blinders on as far as the steel dam is concerned because it isnt functional. All the valves are frozen in whatever position they are currently in due to rust. 3 of the 4 discharge valves in the base are open and water no longer reaches the pipes that went to the mill- they are higher up the face. It doesnt look too hard to construct a protective spillway to protect the foundation.... but then again, I didnt think it looked too hard to fix the wooden dam either...!

Visited again last night with my younger boys and was again inspired by what an awesome place it is and why we have to keep up the effort. Many people feel as you do, and we will do all we can to keep it the great place it is! A huge eagle flew over us as we were leaving, another reminder! CindyM

By Marc S ( on Saturday, April 20, 2002 - 2:08 pm:

Hi Cindy,
What's the latest on your efforts? I'm once again back at sea and missing the Copper Country terribly. Are you still going to try to post a picture of the Spring runoff? I would love to see it!
btw, still trying to write an article for Keweenaw Now!, but work is running 14-15 hrs/day and I just haven't had more than a few minutes here and there to write. Sorry!!!

By CindyM ( on Tuesday, April 23, 2002 - 9:00 am:

Hi Marc! It would be awful to be away from the CC at this time of year- my favorite and over all too fast!

We are working on finances for the project and have made some really good connections- most are optimistic we will find the funding we need. It is gratifying to hear back from most new connections that everyone they talk to has already heard about the project!

The pictures are a little bright- it was an uncommonly sunny day- video is what we need- no way a still picture can convey the awesome power and noise of all that moving water!! I will get some up for you.... Cindy

By CindyM ( on Tuesday, April 23, 2002 - 10:57 am:

Some picture links to see the Redridge Dams at flood stage- the first 3 are the steel dam, 2 of the underside and one of the upstream face; last one is the wooden dam with only 2 top timbers showing (at low water we can see about 8-9 timbers)-hope these work. Cindy


By marc ( on Wednesday, April 24, 2002 - 1:26 pm:

Thanks so much for posting the pics. I am so homesick I could cry!!
It has actually been several years since I've seen the water level there so high. I hope the dam is fairing well as the spring runoff subsides.

By Bob Goniea ( on Wednesday, May 15, 2002 - 11:41 am:

Last weekend my wife and I ventured up to the Keeweenaw. Partly to take my wife away from the rigors of work, and partly to document the Redridge dams some more. I've got quite a few good ones and a few that could have been better. (I experimented with b&w film for one roll, I've got a lot to learn with it I guess:) ) I dont know when I'll get them online, I've been pretty busy lately. But I'm just glad I've got them. I hadn't seen the dams in over 2 years and was amazed at the degradation that had occured to the timber dam. Good luck in your efforts Cindy!

By Paul Meier ( on Saturday, May 18, 2002 - 8:12 pm:

I was up and saw the Redridge dams on the 6th. It was quite a tour walking under all the steel at the base of the steel dam. There is some unfortunate but repairable damage to the concrete under the holes cut into the steel dam. Copper Range may have signed its death warrant by cutting the holes - or at least created a problem for us now. When was the decision made to abandon the wiers and overflow channel to the Northwest of the dam? Seems like that would have limited any topping over to extremely rare circumstances.

There was alot of water coming over and through the wood dam that day. The wood dam at Eagle River is also showing signs of going. I'm afraid age is catching up with some of the landmarks.

Keep fighting the good fight Cindy.

By CindyM ( on Sunday, May 19, 2002 - 12:23 pm:

Hi Bob and Paul, Glad to see you here! From what I have read, the overflow spillway for the steel dam was destroyed during the great flood of 1941 when waters crested the steel dam and beaver dams upstream broke loose to add to the torrent. All the debris smashed the spillway and then blocked the road culverts, almost washing out the road. In 1947 or so the discharge pipes were all opened up as far they could manage- that is when the wooden dam re-emerged. In the spring of 1976 the steel dam flooded again to within 3 feet of the top and washed out culverts all over. They considered dismantling the steel dam but decided instead to cut those holes to prevent water from ever backing up that high again, that was done in 1979. The new road was built in 1982 I think, taking out the curve that lead it closer to the steel dam. When that road was put in, the overflow channel, or what was left of it, was backfilled even more.

The engineers who came to see the dams this spring were intrigued with the site and will present us with some interesting options Im sure. They examined and commented on the concrete foundations under the steel dam and will be considering solutions for the whole site. It will be interesting to see what they think can be done and what our choices will be. Due to the funding timetables, we wont hear options till October at the earliest.

Im glad I am not the only one to feel a sense of urgency, we need to keep working on this! We are in the process of setting up a donations account to try to help the project. I will announce details here when that is set up and probably on PastyCam, in the Gazette, in the MTU Alumni newsletter and the Copper Range Historical newsletter. Suggestions for other appropriate publicity would be appreciated! Cindy

By David Freeze ( on Sunday, May 19, 2002 - 11:00 pm:

Has any thought of setting up a web camera in the area of the dam? This would help show what we might loose if nothing is done.

Keep up the good work.

By Caitlin ( on Thursday, May 23, 2002 - 4:57 pm:

Only 64 days till I'm in the U.P., Redridge to be exact! I'm eager to see the dam(s) and see what's going on! I'd hate to see them gone.

Keep it up Cindy!

By Charlie Hopper ( on Saturday, May 25, 2002 - 5:57 am:

Here is one of the pictures from Bob Goniea's trip (see his note above). We featured a couple of his other shots this week on the Pasty Cam


By John Richardson ( on Monday, March 03, 2003 - 7:04 pm:

Amazing site! Great discussions! Great job of detailing the history of Redridge dam! Back in the early '80s, I spent a couple of summers in Houghton and bought a bike to tour the area on weekends. I still remember blindly following unknown roads and finding the Redridge dam. I snapped some pictures with my $10 Kodak instamatic (with luck, I can still find them) and ate lunch on the dam on a warm breezy summer day. I never new the history of the dam or the area until now...thanks! Good luck with the restoration efforts...I am genuinely humbled by your enthusiasm!

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