Ash Fork Bainbridge Steel Dam

The Ash Fork Bainbridge Steel Dam was the first large steel dam in the world, and one of the only three ever built in the United States.   Out of the three that were built in the United States it is the only one that stilll holds water.   It was constructed in 1898 by the Atchison, Topeka and Sante Fe Railway (ATSF) to supply water for railway operations near Ash Fork, Arizona.  It is named for the town of Ash Fork, and for Francis H Bainbridge,  a civil engineer and graduate of Rensselaer Polytechic Institute (RPI), a member of the Renssellaer Society of Engineers, and an engineer for ATSF.


  The Dam lies about 3 miles to the east of Ash Fork, in Johnson Canyon, and has been listed on the National Regisster of Historic Places since 1976.  The Dam was fabricated by the Wisconsin Bridge and Iron Company and shipped to the site in pieces for erection.  Construction began in 1897 and was completed March 5,1898.   It has a scalloped appearance from 24 curved 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) steel plates that slope downstream.  Loose and rigid plates are alternated to compensate for a temperature range for 104 F to - 4 F. The central steel section is 184 feet long and 46 feet hgh and weighs 460,000 pounds. There is no spillway. instead the dam was designed to withstand overtopping of six feet of water pouring directly over its crest.  When the dam is full it holds about 36,000,000 gallons of water.


  This is a link to a video taken by a drone.  It shows the bridge and area very well.

View of Steel Dam from the trail