Remnants of demolished dams find haven in museums [ *** GALLERY *** ]
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Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Margaret Owens, director of the Joyce Depot Museum, holds a large wrench, part of an assortment of tools and other relics acquired by the museum from the demolition of the Elwha River dams.
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A hand jack from the Elwha dams sits with other small parts in the Joyce Museum’s collection. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News.
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An ampere meter and other electrical gauges and parts sit with other parts in the Joyce Museum’s collection. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News.
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Kathy Monds of the Clallam County Historical Museum holds a klaxon horn from the former Elwha Dam, now part of the society's collection of dam relics. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News.
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A belt-splicing tool from the former Elwha Dam’s workshop waits in the Clallam County Historical Society’s warehouse for eventual display.
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Kathy Monds, executive director of the Clallam County Historical Society, looks over a turbine wheel and a derrick head recovered from the site of the former Elwha Dam as the pieces sit behind the society’s Lincoln School building in Port Angeles on Thursday. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News.
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A butterfly valve control from the Elwha Dam powerhouse sits on public display at Port Angeles City Pier near an interpretive display on dam removal. Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News.

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

A 1-ton turbine generator component that once was an essential part of the powerhouse of Elwha Dam and a piece of crane used to build the mammoth structure are the newest pieces of Elwha Dam history to find a home with the Clallam County Historical Society.

The pieces are just two of dozens of artifacts that have been donated to museums or other organizations in Clallam County in an effort to hold onto a bit of history as the already-historic $325 million Elwha River dam-removal and restoration project moves forward.

Joyce and Port Angeles

The Joyce Depot Museum, one block east of the Joyce General Store in the community west of Port Angeles on state Highway 112, has several pieces, as does Olympic National Park's Visitor Center at 3002 Mount Angeles Road in Port Angeles.

Other larger pieces include a trolley used to open and close the Elwha River dam's spillway doors sited at a proposed spot for the Olympic Timber Town and Heritage Center west of Port Angeles, and a water control valve installed at City Pier in downtown Port Angeles.

Kathy Monds, executive director of the historical society, said Barnard Construction Co., which is handling the multimillion-dollar teardown of both the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams, recently donated a turbine runner from one of the 5,000-horsepower turbine generators of Elwha Dam and the top fixture from a type of crane used to construct the dam.

Turbine runner

The turbine runner was the circular, bladed portion of the generator that caught the water and turned a shaft that generated electricity, while the crane fixture would have been one of the anchor points for one of the timber-and-pulley cranes that helped build the dam in the early 1900s.

“We're thrilled,” Monds said.

Monds said Friday that the newly acquired artifacts are the heaviest of the 12 to 15 Elwha Dam items the historical society already has in its collection.

“Although everything that came from that dam was heavy,” Monds said.

The new pieces are at the historical society office at the former Lincoln School at 933 W. Ninth St.

The society's collection also includes a telephone booth, a drill press and an assortment of wrenches, some of which would take two people to lift.

Joyce museum

The Joyce Depot Museum also has an assortment of Elwha Dam remnants, taken mostly from the demolition of the powerhouse, said Margaret Owens, the curator of the museum.

The Joyce Museum collection includes more than a few dozen items, including an assortment of wrenches, recently acquired glass globes and other “mysterious objects of bygone technology,” as Owens put it.

Owens said she's glad to have a collection of Elwha Dam artifacts remain in Joyce because of the dams' connection to the small community.

“The power from the dam milled the timber that came on the tracks through Joyce,” Owens said.

“We're a part of this story.”

Both Monds and Owens agreed that keeping as many Elwha Dam artifacts as possible in Clallam County is important because the construction nearly 100 years ago and ongoing demolition of the dams are something local residents can call uniquely their own.

“[The dams] mean something to Port Angeles and Clallam County,” Monds said.

“That's why we're happy to have those items stay in the community.”

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Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at jschwartz@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 16. 2013 4:48PM
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