Rogue River (Oregon) | dams
The William L. Jess Dam, a huge flood-control and hydroelectric structure, blocks the Rogue River 157 miles (253 km) from its mouth. Built by the USACE between 1972 and 1976, it impounds
Other dams have impeded fish passage at one time or another between the William L. Jess Dam and Grants Pass. After decades of controversy about water rights, costs, migratory fish, and environmental impacts, removal or modification of remaining middle-reach dams as well as a partly finished dam on Elk Creek, a major tributary of the Rogue, began in 2008. The de-construction projects were all meant to improve salmon runs by allowing more fish to reach suitable spawning grounds.
In 1904, brothers C.R. and Frank Ray built the Gold Ray Dam, a log structure, to generate electricity near Gold Hill. They installed a
In 2008, the city of Gold Hill removed the last of the Gold Hill Dam, a
In 2008, USACE removed part of the Elk Creek Dam and restored Elk Creek to its original channel. Construction on the dam had been halted by a court injunction in the 1980s after about 80 feet (24 m) of the proposed height of 240 feet (73 m) was reached. Further controversy delayed the notching for two decades. Elk Creek enters the Rogue River 5 miles (8.0 km) downstream from Lost Creek Lake.
Historically, other dams along the river's middle reaches were removed or destroyed during the first half of the 20th century. The Ament Dam, built in 1902 by the Golden Drift Mining Company to provide water for mining equipment, was slightly upriver of Grants Pass. After the company failed to keep promises to provide irrigation and electric power to the vicinity and because the dam was a "massive fish killer",
In 1890, the Grants Pass Power Supply Company had built a log dam 12 feet (3.7 m) high, across the river near the city. Salmon could pass the dam during high water, but most were blocked: "For half a mile below the dam, the river was crowded with fish throughout the summer." After a flood destroyed this dam in 1905, it was replaced by a 6-foot (1.8 m) dam that, like its predecessor, lacked a fish ladder. By 1940, the dam had deteriorated to the point that it no longer blocked migratory fish.
In addition to the dams on the Rogue main stem, at one time or another "several hundred dams were built on tributaries within the range of salmon migration", most of which supplied water for mining or irrigation. Before 1920, many of these dams made no provision for fish passage; public pressure as well as efforts by turn-of-the-century cannery owner R.D. Hume led to the installation of fish ladders on the most destructive dams. As of 2005, there were about 80 non-hydroelectric dams, mostly small irrigation structures, in the Rogue basin. In addition to Lost Creek Lake on the main stem, large reservoirs in the basin include Applegate Lake,
The only artificial barrier on the main stem of the Rogue upstream of Lost Creek Lake is a diversion dam at Prospect at RM 172 (RK 277). The concrete dam, 50 feet (15 m) high and 384 feet (117 m) wide, impounds water from the Rogue and nearby streams and diverts it to power plants, which return the water to the river further downstream.