Tuesday was the best Dam day an AWWA blogger could ask for! A little different than our previous journeys, this was a Dam tour and will include plenty of Dam pictures, a ton of Dam facts, and probably a Dam joke or two!


I spent a good part of Tuesday morning visiting 8 dams in the AWWA region.  We started up at Province Lake (which doesn’t technically have a dam, but has a very pretty outlet) and then toured south hitting the Woodman Dam (blown out), Pine River, Balch, Great East, Wilson, Lovell and Horn Pond dams.  Join me for a tour of our local dams and some interesting facts about each (if I can find them!). If you know more fun and/or interesting facts about the dams in the AWWA region please share them by clicking on the comment bubble at the top right of this post.

Province Lake “Dam”
I’m going to be right up front here: Province Lake doesn’t actually have a dam.  Kind of tough putting it in the lead off spot, but I am bringing you on my tour and this is where it started.
I was unable to find any historical information on whether or not a dam existed here at one point, but this is the location where water from Province Lake heads north through a large wetland and becomes the South River that flows north to the Ossipee River.  Due to having no dam, Province Lake is subject to seasonal precipitation and runoff to control its water levels.  The two large culverts that pass under Bailey Road (seen above) are slightly uphill from the edge of Province Lake and thus allow water levels to come up slightly in order flow out.





Left: looking north through the wetland and up the South River.  Right: looking out at Province Lake from the outlet.

Woodman Dam
I drove back down Rte 153 to the Woodman Dam next.  This WAS a concrete style dam that controlled the flow of water from Woodman Pond to Balch Lake or the Stump Pond section of Balch Lake.  I highlighted WAS because the only part of this dam that still exists is the concrete spillway and berm sitting 14 feet high.  The dam failed over a decade ago during a very large discharge event.  The dam was privately owned and never rebuilt, thus it is rare for much water to be found in Woodman Pond.
*Due to a logistical oversight, the Belleau dam was not visited, but exists upstream from Woodman Pond.

Left: the remainder of Woodman’s Dam.  The structure is still intact, but water is able to flow freely to Balch Lake (Stump Pond section).  Right: a view heading south down the outlet stream to Balch Lake/Stump Pond.

Pine River Pond Dam (Arthur H Fox Memorial Dam)
A quick drive up Ballard’s Ridge Road to Pine River Pond Road and I arrived at the Pine River Pond Dam.  This brought back some memories as I used to watch fireworks from here back when I worked at the old Pine River Steak House…oh sweet nostalgia.  Anyway, I digress.  The dam is about 150 feet wide, 14 feet high, and composed of both an earthen dam and a concrete spillway.

Now is a good time to mention that a lot of these dams were in place in the 1800’s as part of the large mill industry that existed in Wakefield.  The Pine River Pond dam was part of the Pine River Lumber Company which was running in the mid-1800s (Wakefield Heritage Commission, Victoria Bunker, INC.)

Left: Arthur H Fox Memorial Dam at Pine River Pond.  Right: the NH Department Of Environmental Services Dam Bureau maintains and operates 273 dams in NH.

Left: this is the sluice area where the boards that control water level are put in or removed.  The marker to the left shows depth from the top most board.  Right: a view from the dam of PRP.

After exiting through the dam, Pine River Pond water heads northwest as the Pine River.  The Pine River eventually enters Ossipee Lake from the south and is part of the Saco River watershed.

Balch Lake Dam
The next stop took us to the other side of these long and narrow lakes.  The Balch Lake dam is located right on Acton Ridge Road and actually provides the boundary between Newfield and Acton, Maine.  This dam looks great as the bridge work was just redone this past summer (2012).  Lots of BMPs went into place too; large riprap stone on the banks and erosion control mulch (below).

This dam has a much different appearance than our other dams.  It is still a concrete dam, but has a lot of steel framing to stabilize the channel.  It also has large wheels on top that help keep the boards in place when they are in.  As water leaves Balch Lake it starts the Little Ossipee River.  The Little Ossipee River flows east until flowing into Lake Arrowhead in Waterboro, Maine and eventually meeting up with the Saco River.

Left: large metal wheels that secure the water level boards in place.  Right: the stabilized outflow from Balch Lake.  Below: looking down the Little Ossipee River.

This concludes part one of the Best Dam Tour! The lakes and dams in part one are all part of the Saco River watershed.  Province Lake and Pine River Pond flow north to the Ossipee River and Ossipee Lake, respectively.  Belleau Lake flows into Balch Lake which flows out the Little Ossipee River to Lake Arrowhead and then to the Saco River.  Part two of the Best Dam Tour will be the headwater lakes of the Salmon Falls River.

Great East Lake Dam  and the Newichawannock Canal
The GEL dam is a pretty unique dam.  Great East Lake flows southeast into the dam through a dredged channel.  The dam is 68 feet long and 15 feet high.  The Newichawannock Canal which begins far into Great East Lake and empties into Horn Pond was originally built in the mid-1800’s by the Great Falls Manufacturing Company to control the water flow to their mills down the Salmon Falls River in Somesrworth, NH. Water that enters the dam drops about 20 feet into a 13 foot wide, 1,800 foot long channel that directs the flow into Horn Pond.  The channel is constructed of large boulders and is a structure to be viewed with great awe. The bridge that spans the canal, and thus the state line, is an engineering marvel. There is an ongoing effort to get the canal and bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Great East Lake Improvement Association has a bunch of dam facts on their website.

Left: the dam structure from the dredged channel. Right: a sidelong view of the dam.  Below: a view looking toward Horn Pond and the 1,800 foot long Newichawannock Canal.

Wilson Lake Dam
I left GEL and headed toward the Wilson Lake Dam, about 2 minutes down the road.  The Wilson Lake dam is a small, simple, yet effective dam that is constructed almost like a culvert, but you have the ability to insert boards into a concrete structure to bring water levels up or down. The Wilson Lake Association has been having trouble with beavers blocking the dam with sticks.  The association has used a variety of tactics to thwart the beavers including hanging an orange life vest as a deterrent.  Apparently beavers hate orange!





Left: the dam at Wilson Lake.  Notice the notches cut into the concrete where the boards go.  Right: a view under the road heading toward Horn Pond.  Below: looking out at a cold and icy Wilson Lake.

Horn Pond Dam
The Horn Pond dam marks the beginning of the Salmon Falls River!  After traveling a short distance onto Route 109 and straddling the border of Maine and NH, we sit atop the culmination of Great East lake water, Wilson Lake water, and the surrounding watershed area.  The Horn Pond dam is a long dam standing 14 feet high that allows water to flow out of Horn Pond and feed the Salmon Falls River.  The dam is located at the public boat launch on Horn Pond.

The Horn Pond dam is also a historic site associated with a 19th century mill site (Wakefield Heritage Commission, Victoria Bunker, INC.).  Some of the foundation for these structures can still be seen.

Left: the Horn Pond dam from Maine.  Right: the Horn Pond dam from NH.  Below: the start of the Salmon Falls River.

Lovell Lake Dam
The last dam in the tour was the Lovell Lake dam right in Sanbornville, next to the public beach.  The Lovell Lake dam is 12 feet high and similar to the Balch Lake dam, but has a concrete box spillway with metal and wood sluices that allow water to feed the Branch River.  The Branch River eventually flows into the Salmon Falls River in Milton, NH.  The Lovell Lake dam is maintained by the NH DES.

This concludes the Best Dam Tour around! Hope you enjoyed taking a look at all our watersheds dams in the depths of winter.  See you next week!

*For more information on dams, please visit the NH DES Dam Bureau.
Additional information can be found for:
Fact Sheets
NH Dams