This photo shows Juneau’s Salmon Creek Dam. (Courtesy Photo / AEL&P)

This photo shows Juneau’s Salmon Creek Dam. (Courtesy Photo / AEL&P)

Salmon Creek Dam to gain engineering landmark status

It’s not the only Southeast structure to earn the status.

The Salmon Creek Dam is receiving some much-deserved recognition as the first constant angle concrete arch dam in the country.

It is now being dedicated as a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. The dedication ceremony will be held in Juneau on Saturday, Sept. 10, with more details to follow.

“By holding the central angle of the dam constant, it tightens up the radius down at the bottom and so it’s a wider radius on top and tighter radius on the bottom and what that does is it allows a much stronger arch based resistance to hydrostatic pressure that would ever be possible with just a constant radius, so what the engineering significance of that is you can greatly reduce the amount of concrete it takes because you reduce the thickness at the bottom,” said American Society of Civil Engineers Alaska Section former President Greg Kinney. “The result of this was they were shooting for about a 25% reduction in the amount of concrete and it ended up being about a 33% reduction[…](the dam) still supplies about 7% of the power and about a third of the water used in Juneau. So, for that 33% reduction of concrete, even with that you have twice the factor of safety against failure, so this was a very impressive accomplishment and became a prototype, kind of a worldwide movement for dams.”

This photo shows Juneau’s Salmon Creek Dam. (Courtesy Photo / AEL&P)

This photo shows Juneau’s Salmon Creek Dam. (Courtesy Photo / AEL&P)

Alaska Electric Light and Power is in charge of inspecting the dam each month, which entails physical verification of the reservoir level, measurement of dam deflection (any movement of the structure), and visual inspection for any cracking, erosion, seepage, or other deterioration. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission personnel inspect Salmon Creek Dam annually. FERC also requires a thorough inspection and investigation by a qualified independent engineer every five years.

“The dam was built between 1913 and 1914 (two construction seasons). The dam is in operation and in good health; current annual upkeep of the dam consists of real-time monitoring (including video cameras and automated alarms) of the status of the dam, monthly and annual inspections by AEL&P staff, annual inspections by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) staff, exercising of valves, testing of auxiliary systems and protective devices, and vegetation management,” said Debbie Driscoll, AEL&P vice president and director of consumer affairs.

Sitka’s O’Connell Bridge will also be recognized as being a State Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. Having first been constructed in 1972, the O’Connell Bridge was the first vehicular cable-stayed bridge in Alaska, which serves as the essential connection for the community. The dedication ceremony will be held in Sitka on Sunday, September 11.

This photo shows Juneau’s Salmon Creek Dam. (Courtesy Photo / AEL&P)

This photo shows Juneau’s Salmon Creek Dam. (Courtesy Photo / AEL&P)

Prior to the two recognition ceremonies, the ASCE Juneau Branch is also planning to host a barbecue on Friday, Sept. 9 at 5:30 p.m. at the Sandy Beach Shelter. Transportation will be provided from Downtown Juneau to Douglas for all who RSVP.

If you are interested in attending any of the upcoming events, you’re asked to RSVP by emailing by July 31. You can learn more about these recognitions by visiting

Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

Molly Yazwinski holds a 3,000-year-old moose skull with antlers still attached, found in a river on Alaska’s North Slope. Her aunt, Pam Groves, steadies an inflatable canoe. (Courtesy Photo /Dan Mann)


2. A 14,000-year-old fragment of a moose antler, top left, rests on a sand bar of a northern river next to the bones of ice-age horses, caribou and muskoxen, as well as the horns of a steppe bison. Photo by Pam Groves.


3. Moose such as this one, photographed this year near Whitehorse in the Yukon, may have been present in Alaska as long as people have. Photo by Ned Rozell.
Alaska Science Forum: Ancient moose antlers hint of early arrival

When a great deal of Earth’s water was locked up within mountains… Continue reading

FILE - Freight train cars sit in a Norfolk Southern rail yard on Sept. 14, 2022, in Atlanta. The Biden administration is saying the U.S. economy would face a severe economic shock if senators don't pass legislation this week to avert a rail worker strike. The administration is delivering that message personally to Democratic senators in a closed-door session Thursday, Dec. 1.  (AP Photo / Danny Karnik)
Congress votes to avert rail strike amid dire warnings

President vows to quickly sign the bill.

Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire
Juneau state Sen. Jesse Kiehl, left, gives a legislative proclamation to former longtime Juneau Assembly member Loren Jones, following Kiehl’s speech at the Juneau Chamber of Commerce’s weekly luncheon Thursday at the Juneau Moose Family Center.
Cloudy economy, but sunnier political outlook lie ahead for lawmakers, Kiehl says

Juneau’s state senator tells Chamber of Commerce bipartisan majority a key to meaningful action

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Friday, Dec. 2

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Hunter credits community members for Thanksgiving rescue

KENAI — On Thanksgiving, Alaska Wildlife Troopers released a dispatch about a… Continue reading

The snowy steps of the Alaska State Capitol are scheduled to see a Nativity scene during an hour-long gathering starting at 4 p.m. Friday which, in the words of a local organizer, is “for families to start their Gallery Walk in a prayerful manner.” But two Outside groups dedicated to placing Nativity scenes at as many state capitol buildings as possible are proclaiming it a victory against the so-called “war on Christmas.” The head of Alaska’s Legislative Affairs Agency, which has administrative oversight of the building, said the gathering is legal since a wide variety of events occur all the time, often with religious overtones, but the placement of a fixed or unattended display is illegal. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Scene and heard: Religious freedom groups say Nativity event makes statement

State officials say happening planned for Capitol relatively common and legal.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Dec. 1

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Steve Lewis, foreground, and Stephen Sorensen from the Alaska State Review Board scan ballots from precincts where they were hand counted at the Division of Elections office Nov. 15. Board officials spent the period between the Nov. 8 election and its certification Wednesday performing about 20 different to verify the results. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Election certified, but challenges pending

Outcome of at least two state House races unknown, which may determine chamber’s leadership

Most Read