Field Notes: a Northwest nature blog

One of the reasons many of us live in the Pacific Northwest is the natural wonders that amaze us all. On this blog Seattle Times writers and photographers will share their explorations of the natural world from snowcaps to whitecaps. Write us at with your own sightings, questions and wonders to share.

December 26, 2011 at 10:00 AM

The Elwha River transformed already

Posted by Lynda V. Mapes

Have you looked at the web cams on the Elwha River lately? Have a look at this: the Elwha River, without the powerhouse, surge tank or transmission lines. The remake of the landscape is already incredible, just a few months in to dam removal:

natural elwha.jpg

The landscape of the Elwha is dramatically different already, with the powerhouse out of the picture. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

As of mid-December, the transmission lines were gone, and now the powerhouse, a signature monument to the river's use for hydropower for nearly 100 years, is history, too. The surge tank is toppled, and has been hauled away in hunks. Much of of the material will be re-used or recycled, according to the park service.

The big progress continued on land during the fish window that shut Nov. 1, with work in the river ruled out by the fish migration underway in the lower river. With the salmon runs over for the year, biologists say, demolition on the dams was set to get underway again today.

For more updates, check out the National Park Service's restoration blog.

And have a look at the web cams.

To appreciate just how dramatic the change is that already been accomplished at Elwha Dam, here's a reminder of what the dam looked like just six months ago:

Elwha dam photo.JPG

Elwha Dam on June 1, the day the hydroelectric generators where shut off for good. Now the entire powerhouse, surge tank, and all of the transmission lines are gone, too. Steve Ringman, photo.

Dam good thing it's gone, they didn't even build it right in the first place. Too bad it'll be well after I'm dead to go...  Posted on December 27, 2011 at 11:58 AM by My World. Jump to comment
Nothing like an Elwha dam removal story to bring out the uneducated, knee-jerk contrarians.  Posted on December 27, 2011 at 10:49 AM by TheDudeWhoAbides. Jump to comment
Whinny and stripends?? Whatever..!  Posted on December 27, 2011 at 2:45 AM by Stompster. Jump to comment

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