Independence Lower Dams

River/Stream: Wapsipinicon River

Location: Independence, Buchanan County
        Latitude: 42.463680
        Longitude: -91.894473
        Click here to view an aerial map of the dam.

Built: 1934

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View of the boils below the dams.

Owner: City of Independence

Height: 3 ft.

Length: 240 ft.

Hazards: drowning, visibility, varying

Warning Signs: need improvement


Comments: clearly two structures at this location that behave/function like low head dams.

According to The Living New Deal organization, "Just before the phase-out of the CWA began in January 1934, the City of Independence applied successfully for CWA funds to build a trio of small dams across the Wapsipinicon at Independence downstream from the city’s mill dam. On further investigation by the county engineer, the number of dams was reduced to two, and later to one. This dam, now known as the Independence Low Dam, spans the river at the northwest corner of Oak Grove Cemetery. The original plans called for multiple three-foot dams constructed of rock and other materials, but eventually a single four-foot dam was constructed of cement and stone taken from the river. The dam was apparently constructed in four sections. The work was started in late February 1934, and was completed a month later."

Fatalities 1

  • July 30, 2007 - RAGBRAI rider Rich Droste while swimming

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Upstream view of dam horizon lines.

Photos by Lyle Danielson