The White Salmon River is Freed With a Boom!

Yesterday was incredibly powerful and almost unbelievable. Within seconds of the blast, the White Salmon burst through Condit Dam and Northwestern Lake, the reservoir behind the dam, was drained within an hour — much faster than anyone had anticipated.

I spent much of last night and this morning wading through the incredible amount of images that I was able to capture with our cameras and my computers are still cranking through the rest. I’ll be posting more images and video later this afternoon, but until then here are a few photos to whet your appetite.

And you can see the livestream video from yesterday here…


22 thoughts on “The White Salmon River is Freed With a Boom!

  1. One of the most fascinating things I have ever seen. I watched the entire thing and was spellbound by the massive flow of water, mud and debris, and by the emptying of the lake and the oozing of the sediment as it sloughed off as in slow motion.

    You’ve done a fantastic job of reporting and recording this historic event.

    Many, many thanks!

  2. Andy-

    Fantastic work on documenting this historic event!
    Will the full raw video feeds of each camera be available? It was great to watch the feed rotate between the four views, but I’m particularly interested in watching just the downstream, side, and reservoir views from when the dam was breached until full flow was developed. It’s not often there’s a hydrology demonstration of this magnitude, and I’d like to compare some theoretical calculations to the actual results.

  3. The best photos and the best video of not only this event, but any major river conservation moment that I have ever seen. Thank you Andy and Steve for making this so tangible for so many people across the country.

  4. The coverage was (and continues to be) fantastic, Andy. Many of us here on the east coast were glued to the screen! What an amazing opportunity to watch.

  5. I can’t wait to get to my cabin this weekend and see the area. Really fantastic to be able to share this event and watch the river come alive again after 100 years of captivity. I also look forward to more photos. I’ve been taking my own every two weeks since the lake was initially lowered viewed from my back. Spectacular work guys!

  6. The live stream was fascinating. We sat at my desk and ate lunch in awe throughout the event. Your coverage is much appreciated (stills and vid)!

  7. You should at least be contrite about the 100 year old ecosystem killed off for your rafting pleasure. NWlake was a lovely place, with ospreys, herons, bald eagles, and herons. It was killed off for 1000 fish. Which makes no difference to the Columbia salmon population. This is 99% about the whtewater industry. We new it was coming, but the smugness from people like wet planet makes me sick. Have some respect for what has been destroyed.

    1. What was killed off? Ospreys, herons and bald eagles wont disappear because there is no lake. 99% about the whitewater industry? Unsupported nonsense. How do you know it makes no difference to the Columbia salmon population? Got evidence? You should have had respect for what was destroyed when they put up the dam. You should be contrite for making a lot of baseless assertions.

  8. I must also give my thanks for what has been, and I assume will continue to be, first rate coverage of a wonderful and very historic event. It is absolutely amazing to watch a river come back to life. I have never seen such a thing before, but I hope I see more of it in the future.

    Per the coverage so far, I was surprised to find that I was most interested in what was happening upstream of the dam. Watching the river work its way down through the silt to find its old river channel was amazing.

  9. I work for the Yurok Tribe on the Klamath River where we have also reached an agreement with PacifiCorp to take down four obsolete hydroelectric dams in 2020. I watched this video with fascination, and am especially interested in how the river reasserts itself in the formerly submerged sediments, and how the geomorphic character of the river below the dam changes over time. Please keep the video coming. If you could post the full hour of the reservoir draining plus some time after that, that would be great information as we form the detailed removal plan for the Klamath. We’re trying to get a handle on drawdown rates for Copco and Iron Gate reservoirs (180 ft high each approx). Thank you again for the valuable videos, images and information.

  10. 33 miles of steelhead habitat? Lets get serious. Not only did they destroy a 100 year old dam, they destroyed a 100 year old thriving lake ecosystem. Recreation??? I hope fish and wildlife close it all down to maintain the delicate fish habitat. They want a scenic protected river, well, I hope they get it.

  11. Watching the river find it’s historical place in the canyon was powerful. So fast. I have faith that the river will restore it’s ecosystem faster than any of us could anticipate, guessing from other river restoration projects. In any case, the time that the river was dammed – nearly 100 years – is really only a blink in the eye of geologic time. Salmon won’t even remember that they weren’t allowed access to the home they knew for thousands of years before. And I’m very excited to see the Native American populations reclaim the land they have lived on for hundreds and hundreds of years. I will miss the lake, but it just wasn’t meant to be there.

  12. 7000 homes this provided power for and I think I read they are scheduled to remove over 100 total in the US, thats a lot of lost power. The fact is it wasn’t done for fish it was done to save money because the power company was being forced to build a fish ladder which IMO was not needed for a few miles more of fish access. I must admit it did look extremely cool when it blew. I wonder if we will see a rate increase on our electric bill for this??? Thanks Andy for all your doing and letting us all express our opinions. Andy do you have any footage of what it looked like down by the HWY and the columbia? LOVED THE LAKE AS IT WAS!

  13. For perhaps millions of years, the White Salmon River – along with it’s tributaries – wended it’s way down from the mountains to the sea, supporting all forms of wildlife including the salmon.

    Except for a human interruption lasting 100 years commencing with the construction of the Condit Dam, the long-standing ecosystem of that river survived and thrived for eons of time!

    It was a good thing that mankind was able to “take advantage of nature” for that 100 year period – as electricity was needed to build a civilization and many jobs for citizens were created from construction of the dam and power-plant to operating it and again at it’s removal.

    Having taken advantage of nature for our own purposes and reaping the benefits thereof, it does feel “right” to return this ecosystem to it’s natural state.

    You’ve done a great job of covering it for us, Andy. Thanks.

    Please keep us updated.


  14. 20% of the world’s electricity is supplied by hydro-electric power.
    0.9% of our power is supplied TOTALLY by solar and wind.
    Why waist the $$$ fooling around with these “boutique” sources of energy??
    They’re unreliable and must be backed up by nuclear, coal, oil, and hydro anyway; plants that must be
    kept on line to to be effective.

    Let’s reconstruct these hydro facilities to make them more efficient electrically and environmentally.
    There is no carbon footprint, the land is already there (unsettled and paid for) to create the lakes.
    There is plenty of room for new hi-tech fish ladders in place of some of the gates and they would be
    NEW. A WIN-WIN for everyone……………. and the fish.

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