Thursday, November 29, 2007

The 460-foot Headtower.

The low lake level in Lake Shasta has exposed the remains of the 460-foot headtower used during the construction of the dam during the late 1930s and early ’40s. The tower was a key component in building the dam because concrete was placed with the use of a cableway radiating from the headtower.

Construction began on Shasta Dam in 1938, and the headtower was one of the first structures built. There were seven cableways, each connected to a separate tail tower at the outer ends and operating on five tracks that circled the headtower. A man worked inside the top of the headtower and single-handedly directed the entire cable system. He often wore a fedora, a white shirt and a tie. The concrete for the dam was placed in blocks, one at a time. The concrete was transported in 6-by-7-feet buckets on the cableways. The tower had four legs spaced 185 feet apart that were set 100 feet into the ground. Before Lake Shasta was filled, the headtower was cut down for safety reasons. When the water level gets low enough, the remaining part of the headtower reminds us it’s still there.

You can see the headtower from a number of locations — Fisherman’s Point (bring binoculars), Centimudi boat ramp (binoculars also needed here) and from the dam. Yes, you can walk out on the dam with permission from the guards. Walk a little more than halfway across the dam, look down and there it is — complete with fishing lines and weights tangled around the metal.