Hydro-Electric Dam


River/Stream: Des Moines River

Location: Ottumwa, Wapello County
        Latitude: 41.0157615479494
        Longitude: -92.4159846783953
        Click here to view an aerial map of the dam.

Built: 1916? First hydro dam built in 1940's. Current hydro dam built in 1960's.

Click here to enlarge image

View of dam from below on the north bank.

Owner: City of Ottumwa

Height: 18 ft.

Length: 781 ft.

Hazards: drownings, urban, visibility

Warning Signs:

Portage: If you go right at Turkey Island, you will find a boat ramp on the south shore just off Hwy. 34. It is also fairly easy to portage around the hydro dam by carrying your boat along the levee down to the Coliseum access. When the dam gates are open, boaters must be cautious near the dam.

Comments: The existing Ottumwa Project consists of: (1) An 18-foot-high dam with a 641-foot-long spillway section equipped with eight Taintor gates and one bascule gate; (2) a powerhouse integral to the dam containing three generating units, unit 1 and unit 3 each rated at 1,000 kW and unit 2 rated at 1,250 kW; (3) a 125-acre reservoir with a normal water surface elevation of 638.5 feet msl; and (4) appurtenant facilities. The applicant estimates that the average annual generation would be 10,261,920 kilowatt hours using the three generating units with a combined capacity of 3,250 kW. [from Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 238]

Note: BOATERS, ESPECIALLY INEXPERIENCED canoeists, must be very cautious when shooting the rapids at the Bonaparte Dam in southest Van Buren County. This dam has been washed out and presently appears as a substantial riffle extending the width of the river. Canoeists may take an easy portage around the south end of the dam if they prefer.


Fatalities 9

  • July 8, 1990, Dave Baxter, fishing boat capsized
  • March 19, 1959, Dennis Johnson & Charles Slaton, drowned in high, swirling waters below dam
  • April 7, 1958, LaVerne Robert Porter, 10, slipped off a dam abutment
  • July, 1996, boater Mark Fetters
  • August 1, 1907, Mr & Mrs William Powell, their son Hal, Mrs JF Stevens & baby boy, boat over dam after motor failure