von Stark photography

Last Day

LAST DAY June 1, 2011, after approximately a hundred years of producing hydro-electrical power the two dams on the Elwha River by Port Angeles, Washington are off line forever. This was the largest dam removal project in history. These photos represent a visual record of the final day - it took only approximately 1.5 hours. Without a biased opinion of the dam removals, I was privileged to be a witness of their last day. It was a historic moment after two and a half years in which I documented the removal process for the Olympic National Park Service. Kevin Yancy, the last dams manager, went through his scripted process of turning the power off for the Glines Canyon Dam (upper dam) and the Elwha Dam (six miles down river and the first to produce power in 1914). The morning started at approximately at 7:30 am with a briefing by Mr. Yancy. The day felt surreal to me as we went through the two power houses in rapid business-like manor. After spending the past 30 months documenting the dam removals I had become very familiar with them and quite frankly I felt attached to them. Along with documenting the formal shut down process these images cannot camouflage the feelings of the men that are loosing their positions and in counterpoint the elation of the observer for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. As a member of the photographers and press covering this historic event, I witnessed a chaotic scramble to capture any and all important moments. It was a day I will not forget. Harry von Stark
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