Redridge Dam

Steel dam construction was flirted with only temporarily at the turn of the century, a time which the Redridge Dam owes for its existence. By 1900 the wood crib dam that had been built on the Salmon Trout River to supply water to the nearby Atlantic Mill had proved inadequate in performing the same function to both it and the new Baltic Mill. A new larger dam was needed – and fast. This time constraint together with a lack of conventional materials nearby, the decision was made to try a different approach. The Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company would build a new steel dam at Redridge – under the direction of engineer J.F. Jackson.

Its been said before that the Redridge Dam is one of a kind, and it truly is. First, the Redridge dam joins only the Ash Fork (Arizona) and Hauser Lake (Montana) as the only three steel dams ever built on the continent. Second, since the Hauser Lake’s failure and subsequent destruction in 1908, the Redridge is now only one of 2 still standing. And third, unlike its sisters, Redridge was not a structural dam. Both of her sisters relied on the truss work to transfer the load of the impounded water directly to bedrock, and it was the bedrock itself that supported the dam and the water. Due to the lack of any solid rock at Redridge (the rock here is brittle sandstone), a large concrete foundation had to be built to play the role of the bedrock. It is this foundation that sets Redridge apart from all others.

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From the Road

The Keweenaw was a land tamed by steam. The rise of steam power in the nation corresponded with the rise…
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The Trestle

The side road that we had turned onto turned into a parking area for a historical marker that we found…
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Steel Dams

Steel dams were an experiment in dam construction that had a very short life in the United States. Steel dams…
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Into the Superstructure

looking down the concrete foundation under the dam As we quickly dropped down into the river gorge the roar of…
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The Second Dam

There are actually two dams built on the Salmon Trout River. When there was but one stamp mill on the…
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Behind the Dam

There are in actuality two dams on the Salmon Trout River. The first and older dam was built before the…
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Supply Lines

As we continue our fresh look at CCE’s earliest posts we stumble across our first exploration of one of the…
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A New Danger

The dangers that a spring thaw once meant for the Redridge dam included the possibility of a dangerous over-topping. The…
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The Spillway

Flood waters pose a serious threat to most dams steel or otherwise. Dams are built with a specific load limit…
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Anatomy of a Steel Dam (p1)

Steel dam construction was flirted with only temporarily at the turn of the century, a time which the Redridge Dam…
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Anatomy of a Steel Dam (p2)

In its simplest form, the Redridge dam is a steel wall built across a ravine – 464 feet wide and…
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Anatomy of a Steel Dam (p3)

As you progress along the foundation of the Redridge Dam, you drop level after level via a series of concrete…
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Postscript

The steel dam at Redridge was completed in November of 1901, and became only the second steel dam in the…
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Redridge Dam Ruins

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Redridge Ruins Map

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In the Shadow of Greatness

The lands south of the Portage were nothing but empty wilderness when the Atlantic Mine first appeared on the scene…
Atlantic and Lake Superior RR

Hidden in Plain Site

There was a time when the Copper Country was criss crossed with railways, transportation corridors that moved freight, people, and…
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A Few More Items of Interest

Before moving on from our exploration of the old Redridge dams, I’ve decided to take a final look at a…
Guest Post

A Fall Walk in the Clouds

That time of year… all the colors… This is one of those things I’ve missed living out west for too…
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A Monument of Iron and Concrete

As the new century dawned the great Copper Empire had taken dominion of the rugged peninsula at its feet, transforming…
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Supply Lines

As we continue our fresh look at CCE’s earliest posts we stumble across our first exploration of one of the…