Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The view down the Roaring River Valley in Rocky Mountain National Park not too far from Lawn Lake and the former site of the Lawn Lake Dam. Around 6 am on the morning of July 15, 1982, the Lawn Lake Dam failed sending some 220 million gallons of water crashing down the Roaring River killing three people in the park and causing 31 million dollars of damage in and upstream of Estes Park, CO. Photo July 2006.


Blogger Gledwood said...

I've often wondered about dams. Does the water actually reach down to near the bottom of that big wall? How thick is the wall? Is it wedged shape? Surely it is, to hold the water in. Does the side plunge literally straight down at the wall? That's scarily deep. Deep water scares me. Even swimming in the sea (I nearly always float on my back: far easier) and then switching to treading water and the water at my feet is chilly and ukh.. no. I don't think I've ever swum in water more than 20 feet deep and even that scared the shit outta me!

So this dam actually broke? I never knew that had happened before. Did the dam builder and/or designer get sued? This is America after all. Everyone seems to sue everyone else!

You never gave a death toll for pikas. I hope no pikas were injured by that nasty dam. It could have seriously impeded their flower-collecting.

9:49 PM  
Blogger molson said...

Dams have many designs depending on the type of dam and the material used for construction. The Lawn Lake Dam was an earthen dam built in 1903. The dam had not been properly maintained for many years due to it's relatively inaccessible location. The likely cause of failure was attributed water working it's way past the lead caulking around the outlet pipe causing internal erosion in the dam. I don't know who assumed liability for the dam failure since the original builders were long gone by 1982, but I assume the Federal government picked up the tab as the dam was located within the National Park.

There have been many failures of dams through the years. Some have had disastrous consequences such as the failure of the South Fork Dam that resulted in the Johnstown Flood in 1889 that wiped out several towns and killed 2209 people. One of the most recent failures in the States was the collapse of the Dehli Dam in Iowa due to overtopping as a result of heavy rain and possible mismanagement of the spillways. Only two of the three floodgates were fully open at the time of the failure. 50 homes and 20 businesses suffered major flood damage with costs running into the millions of dollars.

The pikas probably escaped the flood caused by the collapse of the Lawn Lake Dam as the pikas seem to like to live higher up. When I hiked up to what is left of Lawn Lake, I don't recall seeing or hearing any pikas squeaking along the way. Most of the hike is in the forest. The pikas seem most happy above tree line.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Gledwood said...

Yeah it would have to be very deep to read to the top of the mountains. Well Noah must have squeezed pikas into that ark, else there'd be none here now. There, rather. I'm not sure London Zoo has pikas. We only went last time to look at the hasmters in The Moonlit World. Unfortunately no hamsters (although roborovski hamsters were first displayed in London Zoo, before they hit the pet trade anywhere) ... they did have black rats (plague rats) which were highly agile and much less "nuclear mouse" looking than brown ones.

I looked for a cross-section drawing of an arc dam or whatever they're called. The scarily deep looking ones. But couldn't find any. Hydroelectric dams apparently have turbines under the water. I thought the water flowed over the top turning little wheels. It doesn't, it flows under and out the bottom. The bottom of a scarily deep dam is called the "toe" and the wall can fracture apparently just due to untoward water flows!

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2011 may it be far better than last poxy year!!

5:05 PM  

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