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Iowa History Daily: September 6 - Rise of Red Rock

Iowa History Daily: On September 6, 1969, four days of festivities kicked off to dedicate the Red Rock Dam and Reservoir. The dam holds back the massive Lake Red Rock reservoir which collects drainage from a 12,320 square-mile area in Iowa and Minnesota. The dam serves as a major check on the flooding potential of the Des Moines River, boasts a flood control pool measuring over 33 miles long, and covers 65,500 acres.

The government initially authorized dam construction on the Des Moines River under the federal Flood Control Acts of 1938 and 1944. Following an initial funding approval and planning phase spanning the 1950s, The United States Army Corps of Engineers constructed the rolled earth-fill embankment and gravity concrete control section dam starting in 1960.

The control section features passenger van-sized submerged baffles in the stilling basin, fourteen hydraulic 5’ x 9’ sluice gates, and five massive 41’ x 45’ tainter gates.Initially costing $88 million, the dam took eight years to build and flooded out several towns and historically important landmarks.

The towns of Red Rock, Fifield, Cordova, Dunreath, Coalport, and Rousseau all sleep beneath the waters of the modern reservoir. Red Rock represents a historically significant location due to proximity to the "Red Rock Line," an important geographical boundary established by the United States Government as they moved the Sauk and Meskwaki out of Iowa during the 1840s.

Each of the now submerged towns suffered from catastrophic flooding from at least 1851 onward, and the desire of the state to attempt to control the river ultimately led to the dam project which spelled their demise. Aside from Red Rock finding representation in the name of the reservoir, Fifield and Cordova serve as namesakes for specific recreation areas surrounding the lake. Starting in 2014, the dam underwent retrofitting to allow for hydroelectric power generation. #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryCalendar


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