Jackson (CA), Kennedy Impound Dam, Abstract

ISO100, 160mm, f/8, 1/10 sec
Jackson, CA

98 years and counting.  Definitely not as structurally sound as it should be after being taken out of use in the 1940’s and not maintained since, but the Kennedy Mine Impound Dam is still standing.  The dam is a somewhat hidden reminder of both the environmental impact of mining and of the Gold Rush legacy in California.

(click through on the image to view in 700px)

The dam was constructed in 1914 after legislation was enacted following a torrential rain storm in 1911 causing mine waste to flow downstream and contaminate fertile farmland.  Mines were then subsequently by law to hold all waste in impound dams rather than discharging into local rivers and streams.  Of course, this meant/means that the land ground and groundwater around these impound dams were/are contaminated by caustic chemicals used in the mining process.

This photograph is an abstract of an arched dam designed by the renown John S. Eastwood, constructed by the Eastwood Construction Company, and is the last dam personally supervised by Eastwood.  The arched dam design competed against the higher-cost gravity design during the early 1900’s as the Western states became engaged in water reclamation projects.  As can be evidenced now, the gravity design won out in popularity due to political influence.

Kennedy Dam 1916 (Library of Congress archives)
Kennedy Dam 1916 (Library of Congress archives)

EXIF data: Nikon D7000, center weighted metering mode, ISO 100, 160mm, f/8, 1/10 sec

Jackson (CA), Kennedy Impound Dam, Abstract. Jackson, California. February 23, 2013. © Copyright Steven Tze – all rights reserved.


3 thoughts on “Jackson (CA), Kennedy Impound Dam, Abstract

  1. Your photo of the Kennedy Dam at Jackson, California directs the reader to the Library of Congress website. However, upon looking at the photo in their listings, it is labeled as the Argonaut Mine Dam in Jackson. Please explain the descrepancy.


    1. Hmm, that is an interesting discrepancy. The caption under the archival photo I used indicates it is the Kennedy Mine Dam but the LOC notes it is the Argonaut. Both are Eastwood Arched Dams. Taking a look at the Google overhead satellite views from both locations is not entirely helpful, as the Argonaut Dam now has maybe 8-9 arches (13 arches back in the day according to historical record) while the Kennedy Dam has 12 arches. In the archival photograph, there are at least 12 arches visible, so that’s not helpful. Based on historical references, not all of the Argonaut gravity arches are full height while they are at Kennedy as it is shown in the archived photograph, lending some weight to the dam likely being Kennedy rather than Argonaut. The LOC may be wrong here, but I am not certain.


      1. Another landmark visible in the LOC photograph is Butte Mountain in the background. Kennedy Mine is of the correct orientation to have Butte visible from that specific vantage point while Argonaut is not.


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