Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Olympic Peninsula :: Freeing the Elwha - August 12th

Olympic National Park comprises a rather large area of wilderness, much of which is inacessible to the average person. On the northeast side is the visitor center, the campground, and Hurricane Ridge. U.S. 101 passes through the northwest tip with several short roads going into the park, and then on the western side is the Hoh Rain Forest visitor center and campground. There are also long, narrow strips of the park along the Washington coast with portions accessible along U.S. 101.

One of the short roads off of U.S. 101 on the north side of the park, west of Port Angeles, winds its way along the Elwha River and up to the Glines Canyon Dam.

My first visit to Lake Mills and the Glines Dam on the Elwha River was on September 10, 2010. At that time the water was gradually being released  to lower the lake level in preparation for the removal of the dam. The Elwha Dam, further downstream, was also slated for removal. I was curious to see what the area looked like after the dam had been removed.

Lake Mills was created by Glines Dam in the early 1900s - photo taken September 10, 2010

The Elwha River now runs through the site of the former Lake Mills.

The Glines Dam and Lake Mills - photo taken September 10, 2010.

Actual removal of the dam began on September 15, 2011 with an excavator sitting on a barge in the lake. Explosives were used when the canyon became too narrow for the barge and the last 30 feet of the dam were removed by a blast on August 26, 2014. A large crane had been used throughout the process to transport the concrete debris, which was then hauled away. To save money, parts of the dam that did not block the river were left in place.

The Elwha River, now running free, looking downsteam from the site of the dam.

Published under a Creative Commons License.
Becky Wiseman, "The Olympic Peninsula :: Freeing the Elwha - August 12th," Kinexxions, posted September 30, 2015 ( : accessed [access date])

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