The Fall of Gold Ray Dam Cleans Section of Rogue River
Built in 1904 by brothers Dr. C.R. Ray and Col. Frank H. Ray, the hydroelectric Gold Ray Dam near the town of Gold Hill in Southern Oregon’s Rogue Valley provided power for nearly 70 years. When outside power grids and huge land-generator complexes reduced the need for the dam’s electricity, operations ceased in 1972 and the dam, powerhouse and 27 acres were donated to Jackson County, Ore.
The county paid for an environmental impact study of removing the 105-year-old dam, the first to provide hydroelectric power in Southern Oregon. The study endorsed the project for environmental reasons, including an estimated 400,000 cubic yards of built-up silt and muck containing heavy metals and other contaminants, including mercury, arsenic and pesticides.
The 17-foot-tall, 350-foot-long dam was removed in 2010, underwritten with economic-stimulation funds provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Today, the Rogue River flows freely for 157 miles to the Pacific Ocean. The environmentally-sensitive Tolo and Kelly Sloughs behind the dam were lost during the demolition, but that was offset by increased runs of salmon and steelhead, and the river’s return to pristine condition.
Sources: Powers, Dennis M. "Gold Day Dam." The Oregon Encyclopedia.- Oregon History and Culture. Portland State University, Web. 22 Feb. 2014. "$5 million made available for taking out Gold Ray Dam." Water Watch Protecting Natural Flows in Oregon Rivers. Transcript of Mail Tribune (Medford, Ore.) 1 July, 2009. Waterwatch of Oregon, 2014. Web. 22 Feb. 2014. "There's a redd revival on the Rogue." Mail-Tribune 19 Nov. 2013 [Medford, Ore.] . Web. 22 Feb. 2014.