A Brief History
of the
Old Pinawa Dam Heritage Park


-- Part II --

Dam Construction

From the time construction started in 1903, the work progressed year-round.

Southeast corner of the dam during early construction June 3, 1905.
Southeast corner of the dam during early construction - June 3, 1905
The Spillway is on the left, centre left is the log and ice chute. Debris and ice that got too close to the dam were pushed down the chute. The penstocks that hold the water and the turbines, are visible on the right.


Construction at the Pinawa Dam
Construction at the Pinawa Dam - June 14, 1905

The dam at Pinawa was built on a channel that contained water only at times of high water on the Winnipeg River. To allow more water to pass through, the channel had to be widened and dredged. Since much of the Channel had granite rock outcroppings, the rock had to be blasted. The debris was removed from the channel bed and piled beside the channel. You can see examples of this at the Diversion Dam (the old Control Dam) at the end of Highway 211 near the present-day town of "new" Pinawa.

W. H. Leroy, who worked as a rigger during construction, said:

"Rock drilling was done by tripod steam drills. Steam was supplied by boilers set on skids and moved from one location to another by the riggers. Hoist and cableway engineers were trained as required. When derricks or heavy equipment had to be moved some distance, they were set on skids and pulled by teams, assisted by block and tackle or by using the steam hoist when possible".

"Moving heavy loads such as transformers, generators and turbine parts was slow and costly. It was customary to build a rail line from the storage shed to the powerhouse. The piece to be moved was jacked up, rails slipped underneath, and the load hauled into place by block and tackle and horses."

The construction camp at the Pinawa Dam
The construction camp at the Pinawa Dam

North view of the Powerhouse and Transformer House during construction.
North view of the Powerhouse and Transformer House during construction

Powerhouse construction from the east
Powerhouse construction from the east

The Pinawa Hydro Dam cost over $3,000,000.00 to build, and one third of that cost was for the concrete dams. During the winter, the aggregate was warmed before mixing with the cement so that it would not freeze while it cured in the extreme cold.



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Last Updated February 16, 2006

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