Back in the summer of 2006, when Katie and I had first started dating, we used to head out on adventures of the local area. One that stood out was a drive out to Freda down the covered road. I had been out to Breakers several times before on late night bonfires and never knew there was anything else out that way. With Katie at the wheel we explored the old mill remains at Freda, the metal dam at Redridge, and the early fall colors on the covered road. Now, in 2008, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that there was another dam at Redridge, one worth checking out on our waterfall adventures, to pull us back to the area.
The two of us headed out to Redridge with Logan and Chongo, a large mutt we were dog-sitting. We took Canal Road out to Liminga, one of the more direct routes to Freda. There is a sandy spot just past the dam where you can park, look at a plaque commemorating the steel dam, and walk down to the river to check it out. A dirt road leads from this spot through the woods to the reservoir behind the dam. We took this road and parked in the woods within sight of the water.
It was no small feat to get our excited little puppy and the giant Chongo leashed and separated. We walked down to the retaining lake, a deep blue stretch of water with sandy shores. The odd thing about the lake is that it has been recently lowered - probably somewhere around a dozen feet within the last few years - leaving behind grassy sand and dead stumps on the shoreline. Chongo and Logan took one look at the sandy beach on this hot summer day and dashed forward, almost pulling us in behind them, splashing and chomping at the cool water.
The wooden dam held back this lake, with the steel one a dozen yards downstream doing little besides diverting the water into culverts. I later learned that this wooden dam was the original one built for some nearby mining activity. When they needed more power they added to the top of this dam, increasing the size of the reservoir and the power generated. Afterwards, when they needed even more, the steel one was built downstream and the modified wooden dam was flooded.
Many years later they decided to release the waters for the town's safety. They kept the steel dam intact but slowly drained the lake. When the waters dropped the wooden dam remained behind, still able to hold back some of the lake after being submerged for decades. They decided to remove the top addition for safety, dropping the lake down to the original level. Now over 100 years old, the oldest dam on Salmon Trout River remains standing today.
I headed down to the wooden dam alone leaving with Katie in charge of our wet and wild dogs. Water spills over and through the timber cribs to create a man-made waterfall, a scenic sight with a muddy flat downstream to provide a good photo vantage. While the drop is artificial it was still pretty cool, the moss and some growth sprouting up on the dam as nature overtakes the wooden structure.
Back up on the bank I took one of the dogs to help out Katie and we turned downriver to the steel dam. There was no way through the dam so we had to climb up the earthen slope to get over to the far side. An old railroad track travels right on top of the steel dam, rotting ties and spindly metal supports making a treacherous crossing (and a great Facebook profile picture opportunity). The small fence blocking off the track is old and poorly maintained and I was tempted to head out, but with two dogs and an anxious girlfriend I decided to keep my feet on solid ground today. We headed down to the outside of the dam, which was laced with elaborate supports. It was fun to climb around in the cement-and-steel dam, even if a much more intriguing option hung high above me.
Eventually we had did have to leave. The dogs were not yet dry so we laid out some towels in the back and banished them into the rear of the vehicle. On the drive back we did take the (greened up) covered road and enjoyed the scenery. Even if Redridge Dam was an artificial waterfall it was still a great stop on a sunny summer afternoon.