"A water control system on the Qu'Appelle River" Lumsden Things to Do Tip by Bwana_Brown
Lumsden Things to Do: 9 reviews and 23 photos
Just as I reached the outskirts of Craven while leaving town on Highway 99, I ran across these two structures streching across the river. There was a big sign next to the deserted facilities so I stopped for a closer look. On reading that these 'Control Structures' were run by the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration, I thought that sounds like a name right out of Great Depression era when federal governments in both USA and Canada developed various 'make-work' projects.
I wasn't far wrong, because PFRA was formed during the 1920s to deal with the dust bowl conditions that were destroying the western farmlands in both countries. Its mandate was to promote better agricultural techniques and implement schemes to stabilize and restore the health of the land.
The Qu'Appelle water flow includes infeed from Gardiner Dam (water is diverted as required from the South Saskatchewan River) as well as Last Mountain Lake - one of the largest natural lakes in the southern part of the province. In 1943, just below where the outlet from the lake joins the river, the PFRA built the closest dam in the photo with its several water control gates that could be raised/lowered as necessary to maintain good water levels for irrigation purposes on the upstream river. However, the gates became unsafe and inoperable over the decades, resulting in the newer dam with electrically controlled gates being constructed behind it in 2003. At that time they also removed the bridge deck across the old dam and four of its concrete piers, leaving three behind to serve as 'ice breakers' for the new dam.
The second photo shows where the outflow from Last Mountain Lake flows (from the right) into the Qu'Appelle River and you can almost see the marks on the ice where snowmobilers have left traces of their winter excursions.
Directions: Just outside Craven on Highway 99
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