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Surprise Lake Dam near Atlin, BC, 1903

Arctic & Northern History

An Explorer's Guide to Atlin, BC

The Vancouver Daily Province - Monday, October 26, 1903

Doctor Carroll's Atlin Water-Dam, 1903

    Mr. W. J. Robinson, representative of Benjamin C. Warnick & Co., the financial backers of the British America Dredging Company, which last summer installed the biggest placer dredge in the North on Pine Creek, wires The Province as follows from Atlin:

    "Atlin, B. C., Oct. 26. - There is much excitement here due to the erection of a dam to back up Surprise Lake by Pine Creek Flume Company. Charles Queen and Dr. Carroll of Vancouver are the owners. These men are acting under a charter secured by Joe Warden and purchased by them. The dam being built is a frail structure, backing the water a distance of twenty-one miles by two miles wide. The Government has no engineer here. There is a nine-hundred-foot fall between Surprise Lake and Atlin. If the dam should break, Atlin, Discovery, and Pine Creek would be swept off the earth. The people are petitioning the Government to send an engineer to safeguard life and property."

    Dr. J. T. Carroll of this city stated to The Province this afternoon that his company was building a dam all right, but he declared that not only could no danger or damage result, but moreover, the enterprise was an excellent thing for the northern camp. In the first place, referring to the dispatch, the doctor says that he does not know anthing of Joe Warden, said to be the previous owner of the charter, but that it was acquired from Senator Templeman and Mr. D. J. Munn.

    "We are building a permanent dam," said Dr. Carroll. "It is being built under the direction of two qualified engineers, and is being made as strongly and as solidly as such structures can possibly be made. There is nothing in it for us to build a temporary dam. The enterprise is being forwarded for the purpose of supplying water to develop the Menzies group of hydraulic leases, and to supply power or water to any other miners or companies. Arrangements are being made to carry the head of water to Spruce and other rich creeks.

    "It would be an impossibility, even if the dam ever broke, for damage to be done. Why, we only raise the water four feet, and the valley is all of four miles wide. We have bought only five hundred inches of water of the creek, and there are at least four to five thousand inches left in it. What we get from having the dam we create. We have a pipe and ditch for four miles from the lake, and in that way obtain a head of about ten thousand inches of our own. We cannot possibly interfere with the rights of others. Our enterprise will be working next season."

    Dr. Carroll concluded his statement by observing that it looked to him as if people up north were coming to realize something of the true value of the concessions that had been obtained. He further stated that he was in Atlin only ten days ago, and there was no excitement or objection to the work at that time, although it had been going on for several months.

Doctor Carroll's Atlin Water-Dam, 2012
The ruins of the Surprise Lake Dam in February 2016.