A Dam Factoid

Through the years, many at Clark Lake have speculated about the origin of the dam on Ocean Beach Road.  And no wonder.  Not only is the dam a Clark Lake icon, but it performs the important function of keeping the lake level where it is.

Phil Riley, Jr., on the dock of his North Shore home

Because of the Dam Strong project to fortify the dam’s infrastructure, the dam is receiving more attention than ever.  But the question remains, when was the dam built and who built it?  Given the history of Clark Lake, it is probable that the current structure is not the original.  And here’s where new information contributes to solving the mystery.  Dr. Phil Riley, whose family came to Clark Lake in 1937, recalls learning about the dam from his father.  Philip Riley Sr. once told Phil Jr. the current (or predecessor to current) dam was built in about 1934 by a man named Morehouse–and that he was never paid for the project.  The photo below, from Nancy Ewing Ashton, shows the dam circa 1943.

The Morehouse name at Clark Lake may be familiar to some.  According to Phil, Morehouse’s cottage was in South Woodlands.  The name may also be familiar because of their manufacturing concern which was located in Jackson–Watts Morehouse.  The company manufactured Watts Morehouse Steelwood Touring Car trunks that could be attached to and detached from your automobile and thus serve as a piece of luggage.  They were popular during the 1920’s and 30’s.

Several attempts have been made to learn more about the history of the dam.  This factoid adds to the quest.  

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