The South Fork Dam

Remains of the South Fork Dam
The remains of the South Fork Dam from the Visitor Center area.

NPS

 
 

The South Fork Dam in 1853 and 1881.

The South Fork Dam when it was completed by the state of Pennsylvania for the canal system. The South Fork Dam when it was completed by the state of Pennsylvania for the canal system.

Left image
The South Fork Dam when it was completed by the state of Pennsylvania for the canal system.
Credit: NPS/Harpers Ferry Center

Right image
The South Fork Dam in 1881 after it was rebuilt by the South Fork Fishing and Hunting Club.
Credit: NPS/Harpers Ferry Center

Left image
1. The dam was watertight due to puddled earth or being packed down. 
2. The dam had a spillway that was unobstructed, allowing for runoff. 
3. There was a control tower in the middle of the dam. 
4. There were discharge pipes in place at the base of the dam, allowing the water level to be controlled. 

Right image 
1. The earth is not puddled and there were several leaks in the dam.
2. The spillway is obstructed with a bridge and fish screen.
3. The control tower burned down and was not replaced. 
4. The discharge pipes were removed and the lake level was filled up to 70 feet in places. 
5. To widen the road across the dam, it was lowered.
6. In 1862 the dam broke, resulting in a sag in the middle where repairs had been made.

 
Lake Conemaugh as it appeared in the summer of 1888 or spring 1889 as viewed from the Unger House area.
Lake Conemaugh as it appeared in the summer of 1888 or spring 1889 as viewed from the hillside above.

NPS/Harpers Ferry Center

 
Artist's conception of the South Fork Dam failing or giving way on the afternoon, about 3:15 pm, of May 31, 1889.
Artist's conception of the South Fork Dam failing or giving way on the afternoon, about 3:15 pm, of May 31, 1889.

NPS/Harpers Ferry Center

Last updated: March 12, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

733 Lake Road
South Fork , PA 15956

Phone:

814 886-6171

Contact Us

Stay Connected