Dams on the Little River, North East Alabama
We read somewhere recently that, without any dams or development, the Little River was one of the cleanest and most pristine in the world. We beg to differ: the river is still very clean, but there are five dams on the river that we know of!
The East side of the Lahusage Dam, on the East Fork. Original purpose believed to be the creation of a lake resort, and it also used to serve as a bridge.
The "Mentone Dam", in the town of Mentone, AL on the West Fork. Believed to be used for a reservior for Mentone, and also for recreation: there is a girl's camp directly adjacent.
The A.A. Miller Dam, about 50 yards or so upstream from Desoto Falls. With a turbine at the base of the falls, it produced some of the first hydro power in Northeast Alabama. The power generation capabilities have been removed, but you can still see some of the concrete support structures.
The "Ravine Dam" (not sure if this is the actual name), behind Chalet number 6 at the Cloudmont Ski & Golf Resort, on the West Fork. Original Purpose unknown, probably recreational.
"Howard's Dam", on the northern border of Desoto State Park, on the West Fork. Original purpose was to provide water power for a mill. The support for the wheel and extensive channeling rockwork are still visible. There is no historical marker or other information at the site, but we found a guy in Fort Payne that had an engraving and a little bit of information about it.
This view downstream of the dam shows a natural drop and some of the mill channel rockwork.
Some more of the rockwork that channeled the water from the dam to the wheel.
In the center of this not-too-good image is the supports for the mill wheel. We have some better shots... we'll get them up when we can find them!
Once the river enters the park, there are no more developments or dams other than the park itself. The East and West Forks converge just south of the park, and a few miles further downstream is Little River Falls, which marks the beginning of the Little River Canyon. The land between the park and the canyon is a Wildlife Management Area, and Little River Canyon is one of the newest additions to the National Park Service's Preserve Areas, so hopefully it is fully protected now.
As the river comes out of the canyon, it empties into Lake Wiess on the Coosa River, part of the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa River Basin, eventually to empty into the Gulf of Mexico at Mobile Bay. This gauging station is in the Little River Canyon Mouth Park, at the very end of the canyon. This place used to be a real cesspool, but the National Park Service has done a fantastic job of cleaning it up. While camping was once allowed there, the Park Service maintains it as a day use facility. We ran into a Park Service employee while we were there, and he said it was because the area is subject to flooding, and when it does flood, the only access road is cut off. Not a good place to be camping, for sure, especially if you are prone to not pay attention to the weather.