Blast completes removal of Glines Canyon Dam

The Glines Canyon Dam is no more, and the Elwha River flows unhindered for the first time in more than 100 years.

Crews Tuesday did the final blast, removing the final 30 feet of the 210-foot dam and a concrete apron below the final section.

“This final blast is a milestone, the Glines Canyon Dam no longer exists,” Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum said in a prepared statement.

The demolition contractor, Barnard Construction Co., said it will take another six-eight weeks to remove the rubble and debris that fell into the river after the blast.

Once the contractor has cleared the site, the park will need a few days before it can open a viewing area on the east side of the dam site, accessed by Whiskey Bend Road. The park will need additional time to develop the viewing area on the west side, likely opening it before the end of the year.

Removal of the dam is part of a $325 million project to remove it and the Elwha Dam, the largest such project in the United States. The $27 million demolition of the dams has been underway since September 2011. Work to remove the Elwha Dam was completed in March 2012.

With both dams now gone, salmon, steelhead, bull trout and other fish now have access to more than 70 miles of river habitat. Chinook and sockeye salmon, steelhead and bull trout have already been seen above the former Elwha dam site and what was Lake Aldwell.