Condit Dam History – Part 4

As mentioned in the last post, Northwestern Electric Company’s preferred location for a dam on the White Salmon was at The Narrows.  Foundation (geotechnical) surveys under the direction of the company’s chief engineer Frank Walsh began in September 1911, to determine whether solid bedrock existed for the dam’s foundation. 

This photo shows the considerable “test hole” dug into the east bank, on property once owned by Charles Frick.  Early excavation was done via “hydraulic sluicing”, or the use of high pressure water jets to erode away the soil mantle.  Later, the company switched to tunneling.  The steam donkey pictured (essentially a large steam powered winch) was used to muck rock from the tunnel.  Suitable bedrock was never intercepted, and by early April 1912 the company’s evaluations shifted upstream to The Jaws and eventually Cameron Bridge.

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