Dam Fun

Finally, I have found a scenic spot within just 20 minutes’ drive of our home, and significantly closer to my work. I found it completely unexpectedly.

Last week at work I saw a detailed map of Allen, Texas sitting on a break room table. Its cover featured a picture of a small waterfall going over an old stone wall. I unfolded the map in search of information about the photo, but found nothing.

After painstakingly re-folding the map, I called the local Chamber of Commerce. A nice lady there said, “Hold on a minute,” and then returned to tell me the location. I had a goal for after work.

I wandered sidewalks and trails for about an hour, and somewhere in there I found the spot. My equipment was a cheap, broken tripod and my snapshot digital camera. Besides that, the water was very high and an ugly brown color from recent heavy rains.

The next day I brought in better equipment and headed out for a photo expedition on my lunch hour. I parked in a different spot this time, and after about one minute on the trail I was at the site. For the next 45 minutes I was in the zone that inspired me to take up photography as a hobby.

Mostly pictures follow, with a few comments from me on methods to the madness.

(click any pic to enlarge)

The Facts

I learned this trick from my father years ago. It could help a lot back in the days when one might go months before developing a roll of film containing pictures from several places.

Front View

The obligatory straight-on shot. Notice how it dips down in the middle.

Dam Top

In this one I’m standing on the chain-link mesh that helps hold together the surrounding rock. I’m also thinking of walking out onto the dam rocks (laid in 1874).

Down the Chute

One view from atop the dam. I had pushed those logs out of the “spillway” and they got stuck there.

Tools of the Trade

Here’s my tripod, legs tricked out for the low angle shot above. I wonder how many more years I’ll be able to lean over a setup like this to look through the viewfinder.

Above the Chute

And here’s a nice flowing water shot. Note the trees’ warped reflections right at the chute’s opening.

So, there it is, a nearby scenic place with a little bit of history.

8 thoughts on “Dam Fun

  1. Beautiful pictures Mark… especially the first, second and last ones!!!
    Looks like a place just made for you!

  2. Very interesting. I had not really heard of such structures believing most water towers got thier water from wells. Thanks for capturing the plaque. Great idean of your Dad’s and definately easier and more practical with digital!

    Finding treasures like this is what makes photography fun…gee I have to get out more.

    Thanks for sharing these great shots.

    Mike

  3. What is really remarkable is, if I have done the arithmetic correctly, that there is little erosion damage to the original structure, even though water has been flowing over it for 80 years or so and it was submerged for fifty years. The curvature seems to be from settling of the base, not erosion. I’ll bet Trammel Crow doesn’t build ’em like that any more. Or do you think this is a restoration? Maybe Trammel Crow did build it.

    And oh, the bending over to look through the viewfinder issue. When you can’t bend over any more you just take a lot more pictures with different angles, shutter speeds and zoom settings. One will turn out. Usually. The tripod shows up in some of them.

    Great pix. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Dave – Thanks. It would have been easy to spend more than just my lunch hour there. I never did look for the site of the original water tower.

    Mike – Glad I could stump such a railroad buff. I never had heard of this type of reservoir, either. And, yes, getting out more is a good goal.

    Pops – I trust your arithmetic over pretty much anybody else’s. I don’t think it’s a restoration, if the sign is right. Whatever the case, definitely the ground settled. Also, this rate of flow was after a few days of fairly heavy rain. I suspect that much of the year, little if any water flows through that chute, making erosion much tougher.

  5. While the pictures and the history are great…I’m just glad to hear you found yourself a nice place to get away from the concrete and asphalt. I know it’s been bugging you of late.

    Sad though that the only reason this one and only dam survived thi slong was that it didn’t die when they tried to drown it oh so many years ago. I know we can’t preserve everything, but it sure is nice when something survives.

  6. Love the pictures. The last one is fantastic! You should travel up north of Prosper/Celina. There are some really cute little towns, old barns, old farm equipment and such. You just have to brave getting off the main road and traveling some dirt ones to find the good stuff.

  7. Funny that I’m reading this just now… For only last week, a guy I work with was showing me pictures in his phone of a beautiful secluded woodsy area complete with a small waterfall that I’d never seen which turned out to be behind the high school only a few miles from my home.

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