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Highways, Byways, And Bridge Photography
Forbes Dam
Saint Louis River Water Project
Forbes, MN

Forbes Dam

• Structure ID: NDI: MN00094
• Location: River Mile 126.9
• Structure Type: Concrete, Steel
• Structure Width: 126 Feet
• River Elevation (Pool): 1,312 Feet
• River Elevation (Outflow): 1,303 Feet
• Water Fall: 9 Feet
• Hydro Power: 0-Megawatts
• Date Built: 1963
The Forbes Dam was built in 1963 as part of the Evtac Mine, which produces taconite pellets. Taconite is made from low grade ore that has been powdered, concentrated, and then formed into pellets. The pellets are shipped to steel mills across the Great Lakes area.

The dam is 126 feet wide. It features two gates that can lift up a total of 19 feet. The structure is 28 feet tall overall. It was built at the site of an existing rapids, so there was already a small natural pool in the river behind the dam. Since the Evtac Mine closed down 2003, the dam has been left in the wide open position. That is the dam itself is not backing up any additional water in the pool than what the rapids was backing up. There is still a natural waterfall that is about 9 feet tall. When Evtac was in full operation, the dam was used to create a pool of water that could be used in the taconite manufacturing process. The plant is now running again, but at a much reduced rate. The mine is able to draw off enough water without having to close the two large gates.

Forbes Dam is known by several names. The local government refers to it as the Saint Louis River Dam. It is listed as the Oglebay Norton Dam in the National Dam Inventory. Some call it the Evtac Dam since it is part of the Evtac Mining complex. The state DNR calls it the Forbes Dam, so I went with that name. Forbes is the small town just northwest of this location.

The photo above is an overview of the dam site and the highway bridge that crosses the dam structure. The road leads to the Evtac Mine complex.

Forbes Dam
These two photos are views from the spring of 2008. The photo above is from the top of the riverbank near the northwest corner of the dam. The photo below is a view from the downstream riverbank. The park near the dam was heavily used on this warm sunny morning.

Forbes Dam
Forbes Dam
These two photos are views from the fall of 2009. The photo above is from the top of the riverbank near the northwest corner of the dam. The photo below is a view from the downstream riverbank. Unlike the spring day shown above, there was no one using the park or fishing on this chilly afternoon.

Forbes Dam
Forbes Dam
The photo above is a close view of the center pier of the dam. The water falls about 9 feet when the dam is in the fully open position. The photo below is the water intake for the Evtac mine. The mine uses far less water in its current operation compared to the 1960s and 1970s despite the mine currently producing more taconite (as of 2009) than at any time in history.

Forbes Dam

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