Embracing the Cedar River

Air bladders inflate and deflate to raise or lower the dam's crest gates. Pressurized air, supplied by compressors inside a Waverly Public Works building adjacent to the dam, flows through steel piping embedded in the dam's concrete. Steel plates installed at the abutments provide a smooth sealing surface for the gates and are heated to allow winter operation. Photo: Stanley Consultants

William Harmon built Waverly's first dam in 1853. The stone and timber structure powered a sawmill that provided lumber for the growing town. By the 1880s entrepreneurs had built a more uniform and durable crib dam to harness the Cedar River's power for industrial use. The structure was made using large timbers connected with steel spikes to form “cribs,” then hand-filled with stone to add weight. Photo: City of Waverly


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