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Mourning Drowned Rivers

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The opening sequence of Deliverance shows the construction of the dam that forms Lake Jocassee. The book and movie took their inspiration from the destruction of South Eastern rivers.

The dam inundated parts of the Keowee River, Toxaway River, Whitewater River, Thompson River, and Horse Pasture River. The remaining upper valleys are possibly the most rugged and beautiful in the East.

The Keowee river continued south, but is now completely inundated by Lake Keowee. Judging from the topographical maps it must have been a beautiful open boat run.

I heard a first-hand account of running the lower Toxaway River Gorge before the dam was constructed. The gorge was beautiful, but the raft was destroyed and they had to hike out.

Whippoorwill Farewell, by Debbie Fletcher, recounts the Jocassee Valley, mostly the Whitewater River area. It's interesting for its pictures of the lower Whitewater River, including tubing and polling some kind of long rectangular river craft.

Does anyone have any recommendations for reading about drowned rivers?
 
Does anyone have any recommendations for reading about drowned rivers?
Although your post describes river runs lost to dams, if you want to read about the drowning of one of the largest rivers in North America, I suggest "Voyage Of A Summer Sun: Canoeing The Columbia River" by Robin Cody and "A River Lost: The Life And Death Of The Columbia River" by Blaine Hardin. Dams for hydro power and flood control have benefited society in many ways but the environmental and cultural losses are perhaps regrettable when viewed in the long run.
 
The most beautiful place I've ever been (other than the now hordes of people choking it) is Yosemite Valley in California, through which flows the Merced River. I've been there in every season and have stayed in tent cabins and lodges.

A once equally beautiful neighboring valley, through which the Tuolomne River flows, is the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Here is what it looked like in 1917 before it was dammed in 1923 to provide a water source for San Francisco:

Hetch Hetchy Before Dam.jpg

This dam project of such a beautiful natural resource was and still is highly controversial. John Muir was quoted as saying: “Dam Hetch Hetchy? As well dam for water tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.”

Here is a San Francisco Chronicle article that discusses the damming history of Hetch Hetchy along with several old photographs of the project:

 
And then there's Lake Powell and the Colorado River.......
The book “Cadillac Desert” by Marc Reisner is a fascinating history of dam building, and river destruction by the Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. I think it was controversial when published in1987, as it disclosed the massive government corruption and bogus feasibility studies to justify ongoing dam building. THe accounts of the “Lake” Powell travesty and the Teton Dam collapse are really interesting, as is the sordid history of water and Los Angeles.
 
Although I do not have any dammed river reading to suggest, your post brought back a childhood memory.

When Lake Jocassee was being formed, a boyfriend of my aunt took her, her two daughters and me on a hike to down to the valley of the Horsepasture River. The valley bottom and sides to the hills had been logged and bulldozed up to a line that was probably the "full pond" level. Looking up at the cleared hill sides of red dirt and the barren bottomland with a river cutting a gouge in the valley floor was a sight that would stay with me for the rest of my life. To my mind it was a bleak landscape of a barren alien world.

It was around this time that I wondered on a question that I could only define later in life: At what cost is progress worth?
 
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William Nealy's Whitewater Home Companion, Southern Rivers volume 1, has maps of the lower Haw River prior to Jordan Lake filling. There are comments about the lake and how Nealy regarded it. Of course he wasn't impressed.

However, Jordan Lake has done a lot to prevent flooding downstream. It has become a critical water source for the Raleigh-Durham metropolitan area. It seems like an effective use of the resource.

But hydropower is pretty weak, and Jocassee is tiny compared to Hartwell and Keowee downstream. It is basically used to store off peak energy from Ocoee nuclear station. Considering how popular Great Smoky Mountain National Park, relegating the gorges to use as a water tower and game land does not seem like an effective use of the resource, or any definition of progress.
 
The valley bottom and sides to the hills had been logged and bulldozed up to a line that was probably the "full pond" level.
Unsure of any reading related to it but I've always found it cool that, when building Raystown lake (Huntindon, PA), the trees, building, etc were only cleared if they would be within 20 feet of the surface. Anything deeper was left as it was and, to this day, you can clearly see the trees, buildings and the original dam on sonar.
 
Unsure of any reading related to it but I've always found it cool that, when building Raystown lake (Huntindon, PA), the trees, building, etc were only cleared if they would be within 20 feet of the surface. Anything deeper was left as it was and, to this day, you can clearly see the trees, buildings and the original dam on sonar.
My aunt and uncle's farm is at to bottom of Raystown Lake
 
In Desert Solitaire, Ed Abbey writes about a float down the Colorado River shortly before they started building the Glen Canyon Dam. Abbey is a powerful and lyrical writer and his story will leave you grieving and perhaps weeping for all that we've lost.
 
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The most beautiful place I've ever been (other than the now hordes of people choking it) is Yosemite Valley in California, through which flows the Merced River. I've been there in every season and have stayed in tent cabins and lodges.

A once equally beautiful neighboring valley, through which the Tuolomne River flows, is the Hetch Hetchy Valley. Here is what it looked like in 1917 before it was dammed in 1923 to provide a water source for San Francisco:

View attachment 137737

This dam project of such a beautiful natural resource was and still is highly controversial. John Muir was quoted as saying: “Dam Hetch Hetchy? As well dam for water tanks the people’s cathedrals and churches, for no holier temple has ever been consecrated by the heart of man.”

Here is a San Francisco Chronicle article that discusses the damming history of Hetch Hetchy along with several old photographs of the project:

I hiked a loop around the reservoir back in the early 1990s. It was magnificent. I can only imagine the grandure that existed before the dam.
 
The Columbia River, WA/OR border
The Colorado River in Glen Canyon, AZ
The Tuolumne River at Hetch Hetchy, CA

These are the three greatest tragedies from the dam building era. I worked on a lot of hydrology projects all over the West for 30 years. In the 1970s whe I visited the US Army Corps of Engineers or the US Bureau of Reclamation offices there were large groups of engineers and plans for future dam building. The environmental groups were small with a few individuals. Now times have changed. Most of the engineers are gone except for maintenance of exisiting facilities. The environmental employees fill up the buidlings.

Recent dam removals have been successful. The Elwha River in Washington above Port Angeles is a great success story. The salmon fishery recovered quickly. More dams are coming out all the time, three on the upper Klamath River CA/OR. As the technology improves, larger and larger dams will start coming out. I believe Glen Canyon Dam in AZ is the biggest dam building blunder in history. I have done a week long trip on the lake. Sure it is fine for recreation, but the lake is a giant evaporation pond. Little of it is ever used for irrigation. Flood control is not important. Some day it will come out, but it will cost a lot of serious money.
 
Recent dam removals have been successful.
And hopefully the removals will become more common across the country.

One ambitious project I've always thought could be an amazing experiment is to turn Crab Creek into a bypass spawning reach to get salmon above Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River. Extremely challenging proposal and the irrigation districts don't want endangered anadromous fish out in the basin making life difficult for them.
 
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Hi tketcham,
The ESA is a bunch of strong regulations. The dams on the Columbia R and the lower Snake R have seriously impacted protected anadromous fish species. Fish ladders have largely been a failure around large dams. There is mounting pressure to take the US Govt to court regarding the above mentioned dams. Environmental lawyers are likely to win. The cost of removing large dams is going to be enormous. It will probablly happen eventually. I recommend reading "Damnation" by Dr Daniel Beard, former Director of the US Bureau of Reclamation.
 
Sounds like the book could be a good read but when I used Google to search for the title and author nothing comes back that matches. There's a book entitled "Dam Nation" by Steven Grace. And a documentary by Patagonia, which has been recommended by several canoeing acquaintances.
 
There is a film by the same name by Beard. Maybe it has been renamed released under the name of Patagonia.
 
Now the Klamath River in CA with its headwaters in OR is in the news. Four dams are coming out. It is the second largest river in the State of California. It is a major salmon and steelhead fishery. We ran it last June during high water and it was very challenging. Keep an eye out for more updates on the Klamath. The local Yurok Tribe is involved with the plans for the future fishery. More to follow.
 
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many hydro electric dams here in Michigan don't make as much money as they cost to maintain anymore. There are ongoing talks with DNR, energy companies, environmental groups and property owners of what to do with the dams along the Au Sable as well as several other well-know rivers. Major issues include damage all the sediment backed up in front of the dams would cause if it entered the systems, the cost of tearing the dams out... Some groups want to keep the backwaters/floodings also since there are some very large impoundments that are now popular multi-use lakes with lots of "lakefront" property owners. A difficult situation that won't be solved for many years I am thinking.
 
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