Opening the Upper Rogue River, Elk Creek, and Evans Creek

Photo Credit: River Design Group

In the Rogue Basin, the efforts of many partners over more than 20 years lead to the removal of three large dams on the mainstem of the Rogue River and three large passage barriers on two important tributaries.

In addition to Savage Rapids Dam
the other large barriers were:

Gold Hill Diversion Dam

Gold Hill Diversion Dam was an 8-foot high concrete dam spanning the Rogue River a mile upstream of Gold Hill, Oregon. The dam was a defunct hydro-facility only used by the city to divert its municipal water needs. It had no ladders and was the second greatest barrier to fish passage in the Rogue River Basin. The diversion function was replaced by a new municipal water pump system, and the obsolete dam was removed in 2008.

Text Credit: WaterWatch of Oregon

Gold Hill Diversion Dam

Elk Creek Dam

This dam was a partially completed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dam spanning Elk Creek. It completely blocked fish access to an important spawning tributary of the Rogue River. For decades, the Elk Creek Dam sat partially constructed and served no useful purpose. Historically, an estimated thirty percent of the Rogue Basin’s coho salmon spawned in Elk Creek, alongside populations of Chinook salmon, summer and winter steelhead, and cutthroat trout. It was notched in 2008, allowing fish back to historic spawning areas.

Text Credit: WaterWatch of Oregon

Elk Creek Dam

Video Credit: US Army Corps of Engineers

Gold Ray Dam

Spanning the mainstem of the Rogue at rivermile 12, this 38-foot high, 360- foot long dam was built in 1904 to generate power. By 1972, however, power generation at the dam ceased permanently because the facility was obsolete and no longer economically viable. At that point, Jackson County took ownership of the dam and agreed to its removal as it was a liability to the county. It was removed in 2010. With the removal of Gold Ray, the Rogue River flowed freely from the Lost Creek Project to the Pacific Ocean for the first time in 106 years — a distance of 157 miles.

Text Credit: WaterWatch of Oregon

Gold Ray Dam

Fielder & Wimer Dams

The Fielder & Wimer dams were abandoned obsolete irrigation diversion dams and were located on Evans Creek, another important Rogue River spawning tributary with 70 miles of high-quality salmon and steelhead habitat above the dams. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife ranked them both among Oregon’s top 10 statewide fish passage priorities. Both these dams were removed in 2015, based on landowner agreements secured by Fish Passage Working Group member WaterWatch.

Wimer Dam

Fielder Dam