The Dams of Big Bear
In 1883, a single arch dam was built. "Single arch" means that it was one, slightly curved wall to block the river and form the lake. It was built with native granite which was found at the far west end of the valley. The base (bottom) was ten feet thick, narrowing to three or four feet thick at the top, and stood fifty-three feet tall.
The dam stopped the flow of the river, the trees that stood on the banks were flooded and eventually died.
This picture shows the internal framing of the present dam. If you look through the framing, you can see the 1883 dam in the backgrounds
Construction of our current dam took place between 1910 and 1912.
The 1883 dam is still standing, but most of the time it is underwater.
The dam is a concrete, multi-arch structure and it is seventy-two feet tall.
Before the road was built across the dam, motorists took a ferry to get from one side of the lake to the other. The ferry took passengers and vehicles back and forth from Fawnskin to Pine Knot until 1923.
The dam did not always have a road across the top. When it was first completed, it had a walkway.


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