The Stone Arch Dam was built in 1831 and completed in 1832 by John Redpath and Thomas McKay to tame the mile-long series of rapids and falls that runs through the Jones Falls.
This stone arch dam, constructed of interlocking tapered vertical stones, is one of the first of its type in the world. Workers during construction called it the "Seventh Wonder of the World", and is easily the most spectacular engineering structure on the Rideau Canal.
Originally designed to be 17 m (48 ft) in height, it was increased by 2.5 m (8 ft) at the bottom (to find solid bedrock in the river bed) and 2 m (7 ft) at the top (to prevent overflow). It extends 107 m (350 ft) across the gorge and was the tallest dam in North America when it was built. It consists of three sections. First, a masonry face that is 8.5 m (27" 6") wide at the base, then, a clay puddle core for watertightness in the middle and lastly, earth fill on top, extending 39 m (127 ft) upstream. Like the locks, all the stones were carted from a quarry 10 km (6 mi) away. The old riverbed at the base of the dam supports a unique and fragile plant community. The protected southern exposure and fertile soil that is moistened by seepage from the dam supports mosses, liverworts, sedges, mint, touch-me-not, turtle head and Jack-in-the-pulpit. The dam has often been called the "whispering dam" because its acoustics allow the sound of someone speaking at one end of the face to be heard at the other.
This is truly a unique historical gem with amazing walking trails surrounding the town of Jones Falls.
Location ID #BR0058
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