By Susan Hollingsworth

Deconstruction at Condit Dam seems to be happening at an incredibly rapid pace, especially considering how long it took to reach this point in the decommission process. The deep and nearly inaccessible canyon surrounding the dam makes viewing this process impossible. However, local filmmaker and photographer Andy Maser and Watershed Coordinator for Hood River Watershed Group Steve Stampfli, are keeping the public on the edge of their seats with plenty of juicy photos, videos, and reports of all the Condit Dam deconstruction progress.

A downstream view of the Condit Dam construction site, Photo courtesy of Timelapse Blog

For instance, did you know…

  • Over 900 men from the Boston, Massachusettes Stone and Webster Construction worked for over 11 months to build Condit Dam and the powerhouse.
  • As of Saturday, September 17th 2011 (39 days before draining of Northwestern Lake) construction crews’ tunnel is already 40 feet deep into the dam.
  • A tunnel was also used during the dam’s construction on the western wall to divert the river’s flow away from the work zone.
  • Northwest Electric Company thought the dam would be built in the Narrows (below current dam site) or The Jaws (confluence of Buck Creek and White Salmon River, upstream of current dam site).

This information and plenty more can be found on Andy and Steve’s fantastic blog: White Salmon Restored: A Timelapse Project.

You’ll find regular updates of the progress going on at the dam site, along with photos taken from Andy’s cameras stationed in two locations along the river. Check out views of the scaffolding and tunnels, as well as the cable high above the river used to lower in heavy equipment. Seeing the progress as it unfolds makes the entire event that much more spectacular.

Condit Dam’s history, from initial scouting for a dam site to the completion of the dam, can be found in Steve’s regular blog posts. Historical photos show early methods of dam construction, such as the steam-powered wench used for tunneling, as well as the river canyon before the reservoir buried it with 125 feet of water.

Imagining a river flowing through the steep basalt canyon causes a rush of excitement to course through my whitewater soul.

Andy’s most recent video, Buildup to the Blast, puts together 10 images taken throughout each day during the past 67 days.

Condit Dam Update 1: Buildup to the Blast from Andy Maser on Vimeo.

Check back into the blog for the next month for the most up-to-date accounts and photos of deconstruction.

Susan Hollingsworth, writer and instructor, hopes the removal of Condit Dam will be talked about for generations.