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Sun Sets on Northwestern Lake

October 26, 2011

With mixed feelings I watched a live video stream today of the deconstruction of Condit Dam, eliminating the beautiful Northwestern Lake that has existed for 100 years on the White Salmon River.

The final decision to remove the dam after a 20 year debate seemed to be finally made because it was more economical than installing fish ladders.

I think the conservationists overstated the numbers of returning salmon; yet it’ll be interesting to see what happens. I do hope their optimism will bear out & the salmon population doubles.

I will miss Northwestern Lake, where many picnics and rafting trips down the White Salmon River were enjoyed.  The lake was shallow enough for kids to swim safely, surrounded by beautiful forest and a serene park and picnic area.

I have friends who live near the lake who may now have to drill deeper wells for their water.  Personally, as the lake was lowered all summer during construction phase of the breach, I felt a sense of loss for this beautiful lake that I’ve enjoyed for 25 yrs.

Yet, in a way, I’m excited to watch the White Salmon River go back to it’s natural state.  I look forward to what new discoveries lie waiting along the river’s shore.

This series of photos are a comparison of this summer and last summer along the banks of Northwestern Lake.

Today at noon 700 lbs of dynamite blew a hole at the base of Condit dam, setting free 2.4 million cubic yards of trapped sediment, thus ending the life of Northwestern Lake:

  • If I find video of the lake draining, I’ll add it here in an edit.
    In the meantime, here’s a screen grab from PacifiCorp’s homepage.
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7 Responses to “Sun Sets on Northwestern Lake”


  1. What happened to all those hundreds of fish that were attempting to go up river or even at the mouth of the river when this happened? Seems like there will be one generation of dead fish tonight.

    Pretty powerful water force there. Thankx xoxoxo c

  2. Elizabeth Daniel Says:

    Nice job, Linda. Enjoyed reading and looking at the photos.


  3. Charlene, as many as could be caught were removed before the explosion. I think they were placed in the Columbia.

    Elizabeth thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed it!


  4. Interesting post…as you were able to portray both sides strong feelings very well.

    I’m one who was very excited to see the 2 dams on the Elwha start coming down this year. There were definitely those that mourned the loss of the 2 lakes. No one knows what it will mean for the salmon, but it will be better than it is with the dams. In the case of the Elwha – the fish were decimated and had just a very small portion in which to breed. Bringing the young ones up river before they make their trek to the sea will give them the “knowledge” they need to go further up than they have in decades. It also will be healthier for the who environment in your area – trees, wildlife, as they’re all interconnected.

    I know you’ve heard all of that and I guess I do come across as one on the environmental side. However, those of us that have lived only with the lakes and perhaps even bought property with the thought that those lakes would always be there I very much feel for them. The unexpected costs of wells being deeper, etc. are not to be set aside. I sincerely hope that the regeneration of these areas are worth it for future generations of wildlife and us.

    Thank you!


  5. Thanks for your comment Janet, I do appreciate that we’ll be watching the river return to is natural state. It’ll be interesting to watch the White Salmon River & any returning fish over the next year.

  6. Candace Says:

    Wow, that is very dramatic. As I know nothing about this, I don’t have an opinion but I can see how it would be sad to lose something that–even though it isn’t natural–has been there for 100 years so was a definite part of the landscape. I always feel sorry for the animals affected in these situations. I know you said a lot of fish were relocated but I’m sure many died 😦


  7. Yes, the change was & still is very dramatic. We’re all still mesmerized by it! Thanks, Candace.


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