The Pine River Dam is located on the Pine River at the outlet of Cross Lake, 18 river miles above the junction of the Pine and Mississippi rivers.
Pine River was the fourth Headwaters reservoir to be constructed. The original timber dam dates from 1884 and was put into operation in 1886. Corps engineers reused machinery and supplies from the construction of the Winnibigoshish and Leech Lake dams at this site.
The dam was constructed to its present appearance between 1905 and 1907. The control structure is 233 feet in length and consists of reinforced concreted supported on timber piles. There are 13 sluiceways. In 2002, leaf gates were installed in each sluiceway and the dam was raised. A series of perimeter dikes built around the dam between 1899 and 1914 allowed it to be filled to capacity.
In 1934, representatives of the Portland Cement Association reported the Pine River Dam was the “finest concrete structure from the point of view of durability that they were aware of.” The arched openings of the Pine River Dam give it a distinctive appearance. There are no structures remaining from the 17-building complex constructed by the Corps of Engineers in 1884. Included were a dam tender’s dwelling, laborer’s quarters, engineer’s quarters, dining hall, office building, officer’s house, woodshed chicken coop, barn, warehouse, sawmill, and carpenter and blacksmith shops. The Corps removed a number of these buildings immediately after the dam construction was finished. A new dam tender’s dwelling built in 1911 was later destroyed by fire. The replacement dwelling was destroyed by fire in 1959 and was not rebuilt.
Mississippi River Headwaters History brochure