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puzzlr
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PostSun Aug 03, 2014 1:43 pm 
I've tried searching and asking around to find out the answer to this question. Why do some wilderness lakes have small dams built at the outlet? The two I'm thinking of are

Snow Lake
Snow Lake

My guess here is that at one time the USFS wanted a bridge that stock could cross. A point against that theory is the positioning of the dam right next to steep walls of the ravine. The old CCT went down the Rock Creek trail which separates before this point, however.

Snoqualmie Lake
Snoqualmie Lake
Snoqualmie Lake
Snoqualmie Lake

My guess here is that this was somehow related to plans to build a highway through here. By raising the level of the lake it would provide more water for more of the season. It was a lot of work to put in the cribbing and rocks, and there's clearly logs and debris that show it used to stretch all the way across the outlet. As far as I know, there was never a trail on the other side of the outlet here. As late as 1946 there was a FS cabin near the outlet, in case there are any ideas related to that.

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Conrad
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PostSun Aug 03, 2014 2:13 pm 
From 100 Hikes in Washington's Alpine Lakes (1993), re the Snow Lake leading to the Enchantments:

Quote:
like a bathtub, water is drained through a hole in the bottom of the upper lake (which thus has a fluctuating shoreline) and is used to guarantee a pure intake for the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery

[Edit] Oh wait, it looks like you're talking about the Snow Lake near Snoqualmie Pass.

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puzzlr
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PostSun Aug 03, 2014 5:23 pm 
Yes, the Snoqualmie Snow Lake. But thanks for the info on the other Snow Lake. I didn't know that's why there's a dam there either until you posted, but it's exactly the kind of reason I'm looking for.

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contour5
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PostSun Aug 03, 2014 6:03 pm 
I don't have the answer exactly, but I remember seeing tiny ruined dams on alpine lakes above Owens Valley in the Sierra. They were built to trap water for agriculture and mining, long before the current water schemes were devised.

I'd imagine it's the same scenario locally. There's an old dam at the outlet of Square Lake if I remember correctly. Somebody (maybe BPJ)  posted a photo of it...

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BirdDog
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PostSun Aug 03, 2014 7:44 pm 
I don't for sure about Snow Lake; but loggers way back when would build log/earthern damns. They would log the slopes and slide the logs downhill into the creek/river. Then they would bust the damn and wash the logs downstream. Also miner built dams for water storage used for sluicing. You can often see the remnants of miles of old iron pipe running out of lakes. Kind of answers the question as to why we have environmental regs now.

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dave allyn
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PostSun Aug 03, 2014 7:51 pm 
I believe the snow lakes dam (enchantments) was built well before the fish hatchery, and is used for irrigation. Obviously it was built before it was "wilderness". If i remember correctly that and six other lakes are dammed by the irrigation district, including Colchuck,Eightmile, and Klonaqua.

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polarbear
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PostSun Aug 03, 2014 9:02 pm 
I will have to inspect the Snow Lake outlet more closely the next time I am there. uhh.gif

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HitTheTrail
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PostMon Aug 04, 2014 4:29 am 
This is the tunnel above Nada Lake in the Enchantments that was built up under Snow Lake to let water out from the bottom of the lake. The upper one goes to the gate valve control room and the lower held the gate valve and 30" sleeve valve.

Snow_Lake_Outlet_Valve
Snow_Lake_Outlet_Valve

As I understand it the project was for the fish hatchery and built as part of the Grand Coulee Dam effort to compensate for loss of fish runs. Grand Coulee was built without a fish ladder of any kind and stopped all salmon getting up the Columbia River into Canada. No wonder they have always been mad at us.

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Schroder
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PostMon Aug 04, 2014 10:36 am 
According to the Spokane Daily Chronicle on March 21 1939, the Nada bore was built for the fish hatchery. Here's an older thread on this also.

There were several dams contemplated on Foss Lakes and Lake Dorothy also to generate power for the electric cars that pushed the Great Northern trains through the Stevens Pass tunnel.  The dam was built in Tumwater Canyon instead.

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Ringangleclaw
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PostMon Aug 04, 2014 1:32 pm 
Lake Isabel has a small wooden dam at its outfall

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HitTheTrail
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PostMon Aug 04, 2014 8:08 pm 
dave allyn wrote:
If i remember correctly that and six other lakes are dammed by the irrigation district, including Colchuck,Eightmile, and Klonaqua.

Dave,
I think you are 100% correct that the lake dams were for irrigation. The dam on Snow was probably for irrigation also, just not the borehole under the lake. Our hiking buddy Steve is not only a history buff but also grew up in Leavenworth getting stories first hand from old-timers that had actually worked on that project. He told me that when they set the final charge to blow a hole in the bottom of Snow Lake everyone waited in anticipation but nothing happened. The poor powder monkey had to crawl back into the bore hole knowing there was a live charge in there and set things right. When it did blow they said you could hear the scream of compressed air coming out of the valve all the way down in Leavenworth.

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Kim Brown
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PostMon Aug 04, 2014 8:17 pm 
HitTheTrail wrote:
He told me that when they set the final charge to blow a hole in the bottom of Snow Lake everyone waited in anticipation but nothing happened. The poor powder monkey had to crawl back into the bore hole knowing there was a live charge in there and set things right.

I met the man who went into the hole when it didn't blow. I've mentioned it several times on this site over the years.  He was with his family, camped at the 13 Mile Trail near Republic several years ago. Of course he is elderly now, but he told that story and said he still shudders every time he thinks about being in that bore hole with the charge ready to blow.

Here's the TR, and here's the quote from it:
Quark wrote:
Now for my favorite part of any trip to eastern Washington:  the locals.  A holiday family reunion was being had at the trailhead, and when Frank, Zoe and I returned to his rig from our night out, three older male reunion refugees strolled up to us like curious cows.  They had been camping with their families for 2 full days and were ready for sumpin’ different to do.  That’s where we came in handy.  Because of their leisurely stride and their slow, easy speech, Frank and I pretty much figured we were in for the long haul.  So we gladly put the tailgate down, took a long draw off the soda bottles we had stashed in an ice chest, leaned back on the rig, and settled in.  Sure enough, we chatted with these wonderful men and their elderly pop for more than an hour.  The father had helped to build Grand Coulee and Rocky Reach Dams, and had also been on the blasting crew for the tunnel underneath Snow Lakes (Enchantments).  His sons were clearly proud of their dad, as evidenced by their encouraging remarks to his stories.  A wonderful time was had by all.

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NacMacFeegle
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 7:12 pm 
There are a lot of alpine lakes with small dams in Idaho, most were built for irrigation, and all have resulted in reservoirs that really aren't worth visiting. One particular lake comes to mind: Twin lake (two lakes once separated by a narrow peninsula) is set in a deep granite-cliffed bowl in central Idaho, the setting is spectacular, but the dam turned the shoreline into mud, and the forest service routinely clears the trees from the area around the dam, resulting in a permanent clear cut. To top it all it is often used as a watering hole for cattle, and thus the already muddy shore is often a veritable morass of stinking goo. There isn't even any good fishing since they planted non-native tiger muskie to kill the non-native brook trout (and every other living thing within the lake).

Apologizes for the rant- I have a great dislike for all dams, but those installed on alpine lakes are particularly disgusting to me!  mad.gif

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jinx'sboy
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PostTue Aug 19, 2014 7:30 pm 
It may not be evident, now, but many years ago I was at Big Hidden Lk In the Pasayten.  There is/was a dam there.

I heard at one time that is was irrigators downstream, either in BC, or in WA where the Pasayten enters the Similkameen and flows back into the US who impounded the water.

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PostWed Sep 24, 2014 10:23 pm 
A few years ago a friend and I were staying at the lower of the two Klonoqua lakes. While there, I stood dumbfounded as a helicopter landed next to the concrete dam, a helicopter in a Wilderness area! My friend talked to the pilot, who said he was there to open/close the valve to the dam, something he did once or twice a year. He said it was for the irrigation district in Leavenworth. The dam was unlike other alpine lake dams I have come across. The one at Square Lake (I was there a couple years ago and it's still standing) is fairly rustic, but the Klonoqua one has real cement and a large metal plate-valve with a large metal wheel to activate the valve. Like others have said, the dam/irrigation existed before the area was designated as Wilderness.

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