They say every dam has its day, and Saturday, Sept. 10 was that day for the Salmon Creek Dam in Juneau as it was recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark.
The landmark, which was completed in 1914, was recognized at a dedication ceremony at the Juneau-Douglas City Museum and was led by ASCE’s Alaska Section, making it the sixth such landmark in Alaska. The dam was also the world’s first constant-angle arch dam, according to ASCE.
“This dedication has been in the works for a really long time with an incredible amount of people who have put in a lot of hard work into a historical landmark of tremendous importance for, not only the city of Juneau, but also the world that continued with the same design, with this dam being the first of its kind,” said civil engineer and ASCE Alaska Section President Justin Kanouse.
Introductions and closing remarks were given by ASCE Alaska Section past-President David Gomez, the national anthem and “Alaska Flag Song” were sung by Elizabeth Djajalie, with presentations provided by Gary Gillette of the Juneau Historical Socieity, ASCE Region 8 Director Larry Magura, ASCE History and Heritage Committee member Greg Kinney, Alaska Electric Light & Power Vice President and Director of Energy Services Alec Mesdag, as well as a dedication to the late AEL&P Civil Engineer Scott Willis and plaque unveiling presented by Gaye Willis.
The Salmon Creek Dam served as a key factor in the development of the Alaska gold mining industry, especially within the Juneau Gold Belt, in the early part of the 20th century, according to ASCE. The structure was originally built to provide year-round hydroelectric power to the Alaska Gastineau Mine, which was later called the Alaska Juneau Mine, and was both a major contributor to Juneau and Alaska economy.
“For the city of Juneau, this is a piece of Juneau’s heritage that connects the past to the present in many ways. It was a foundational piece of the entire mining industry and remains in use today, it’s a viable and competent engineering structure that is valuable now as it was then,” Kinney said.