Ten days ago we hiked down the Trout Hollow Trail, and got an interesting look at the long-abandoned Hydro dam and generating station just south of Meaford. Following both sides of the Bighead River, this trail passes the spot where the great conservationist John Muir worked at a sawmill for a few months at some time during 1864-66, but that will have to be another story.
Our adventurous group of 4 buddies who meet for breakfast once a month was led by our senior statesman, who helped lay out and develop this trail, and was familiar with the story of the old hydro plant. He was delighted to show off this little bit of local history to the rest of us! This is part of the old dam on the far side of the river.
It would not be easy to piece together the story without someone showing you the pieces, and describing it all for you. Only a little broken down evidence is left scattered through the woods. Here you see the far side of the dam as well, where it stretched across the river.
He led us into the woods instead of following the Trout Hollow Trail exactly, first along this old roadbed that was used to access the dam, built in 1904.
At the end of this we came upon these old concrete gates, where the water in the pond above the dam (on the left) was let out into a holding pond above the generator, downstream to the right. It`s really hard to picture the small lake that once flooded this now-forested valley.
Beyond the gates, we were following this valley, which served as the holding pond - just a narrow valley in the woods, but with concrete gates at one end, and a steep narrow berm forming one side.
This bern was 20 feet high, and almost too narrow to walk on easily, all built by hand, presumably with horses and scrapers, over 100 years ago.
At the end of the berm a dip in the rock-reinforced slopes indicates where the pipe feeding the hydro generating station started. The pipe was 36`in diameter, and built of wood, held together with bands of metal. I`ve seen the similar pipes that led to the Eugenia Power Plant, until they were replaced with a metal pipe about 40 years ago. Here, there is no evidence of the old pipe left at all.
But you can certainly follow the route of the old pipeline, about 800 yards long. It`s very close to flat, though presumably the pipe would have been supported on wooden cradles. You certainly would not guess what you`re seeing here though unless you had someone to tell you what it was! We`ve rejoined the main Trout Hollow Trail at this point, indicated by the yellow blazes.
Suddenly, at the end of the pipeline route, you come upon this giant metal pipe opening in the middle of the woods!
The metal pipe served to drop the water about 8 feet before it hit the turbines in the generator building, and slow the water down a little. Wooden pipes would explode subjected to the pressure of water going around this bend!
All that remains of the generating station are a few old concrete walls, slowly decaying in the woods.
Below them is a narrow valley followed today by a damp trickle of water, where the water exiting the turbines was allowed to run slowly back to the Bighead River. The whole story was a fascinating mystery in the woods, evidenced by bits of concrete and metal, and sculpted shapes on the landscape that told a story of the years 1904 - 1923, when the dam washed out and the whole thing was abandoned. Valuable parts were dismantled and removed. It is indeed amazing how nature reforests our land if we stop using it! And how little bits of history can be found in the landscape around us.
Walking time with dog - 40 minutes. Walking time in the woods - 1 hour (helping develop a new walking trail at Hope Haven Farm, a therapeutic riding centre a mile north of us). I`ll have that story in a day or two.
I always find these types of things very interesting & in my walks & travels have often come across old & odd man made structures that I've puzzled over trying to make some sense of what I'm seeing. Why is that here, what is it & when was it put here by whom. Yep, love coming across those little puzzles. Luckily somebody told your friend & your friend was able to pass on the pieces of the puzzle. Always important to forward these explanations before they are lost forever.ReplyDelete
Yes, Mother Nature does work to reclaim her earth. Great story.ReplyDelete
I love history and the neighborhood is just my kind of outing! Beautiful photos.ReplyDelete
History, this is to be told again, and kept for everyone to know. Lovely leafy trails there, trees now growing, nature has taken over where man once used a natural resource to generate power.ReplyDelete
I love this kind of thing and you were very lucky to have a guide to piece it all together for you. Even when it's all explained though, it's difficult to imagine what the scene would have looked like in its day.ReplyDelete
Fascinating. You've got to know what you're looking for/at to interpret man's impact on the environment like this. Wonderful shots - beautiful looking country.ReplyDelete
Nice piece of history.ReplyDelete
Always so interesting finding bits and pieces of history, wondering what it was like way back then. Thanks for the tour.ReplyDelete
It really is great to have someone along who knows the history of the sights you are seeing!ReplyDelete
It's always fun to find hidden structures from another time in the woods. Very fascinating!ReplyDelete
It's amazing how quickly nature regenerates!ReplyDelete
Awesome post and photos ! What a fun historical adventure , just think of the stories all this could tell if it could talk or be able to go back in time and see all of this in motion WOW ! Thanks for sharing , Have a good day !ReplyDelete
Reminds me of finding old stuff in the bush from the old logging days. Some of our trails are what's left of old railway lines temporarily used to extract logs. Then the companies just pulled up the tracks and removed the trains. That must have been a huge job. - MargyReplyDelete
Neat place to walk with an interesting story to go along with it, and some great looking pictures too.ReplyDelete
I thought I'd give you a heads-up; I'll be posting on the fire fighters monument this weekend. Would it be okay to mention William in the post? Let me know either through a comment or via email.ReplyDelete
Interesting bit of history -- how many other fascinating places are slowly disappearing with the passage of time.ReplyDelete
Boy there sure is some beautiful scenery in your part of the world, I would so love to go walking through that area. Fantastic photos.ReplyDelete
This is so interesting to see and read about. I even showed it to my husband and he was amazed. I guess nature can reclaim the land over time.ReplyDelete