The only dam on the Big Hole River is right across from my house. From here they pump water over the mountain to the city of Butte and they pump anywhere from eight to twelve million gallons a day. It’s not much of a dam with only about a five foot drop but this drop causes a back wash that has claimed numerous lives. In high water your chances of making it over are about 10 percent (that’s not good enough for me). Now it is even more dangerous as in the last few days the county water department has hired a huge crane and they have been placing rocks , big rocks with some weighing as much as five tons just below the dam. The reason for this is that dam is over 100 years old and was washing out from the bottom. No wonder I didn’t see any spawning brown trout trying to jump over it last fall, they were swimming underneath it. I told one of the head honchos from the water department that this was a good thing as it made it easier for the spawning fish and if the dam completely went out, Butte could get it’s water from the Berkley Pit. Somehow he failed to see the humor in that statement and turned around and walked away. I don’t know what is about the bureaucrats whether in county, state or federal level. I think part of their job description is not to have any sense of humor at all.
There are signs on Silver Bridge and a couple more between the bridge and the dam stating mandatory portage on the left side.
There is a rescue cable across the river above the dam and it has a little trolley car with a hand winch on it. I have been on this thing a few times to rescue idiots that have tried it. For the passengers in the boat we lower down the harness for them to climb into. For the person rowing the boat and who made the decision to go over, we lower down a noose and tell him to put it around his neck and be prepared to meet his maker.