Now that the state has decided not to rebuild the dam at Duck Hole, people are wondering about the future of Marcy Dam.
The short answer is that there is no answer—not yet.
“No decisions have been made. We’re still evaluating that,” David Winchell, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said this morning.
Unlike the Duck Hole dam, Marcy Dam remains largely intact. However, flooding triggered by Tropical Storm Irene washed away the bridge over the dam and the dam’s sluice gate. Most of the pond behind the dam has since drained, leaving a mudflat.
DEC plans to either rebuild the bridge at the dam or construct a new bridge downstream. Which option the agency goes for will depend in part on what engineers say about the dam’s structural integrity. In either case, nothing will be done until next year at the earliest.
Since Irene, hikers on the popular Van Hoevenberg Trail have been crossing Marcy Brook by boulder-hopping about a quarter-mile below the dam. That crossing may be dangerous in winter, yet snowshoers and skiers will need to get on the other side of the brook to reach Mount Marcy and Avalanche Lake. Winchell recommends that they cross what’s left of the pond, once it’s frozen, or approach Marcy Dam via the Marcy Dam Truck Trail.
Marcy Dam is one of the most familiar scenes of the High Peaks. From the dam, hikers would look across the pond toward Avalanche Pass and Mount Colden. The photographer Carl Heilman II used a scene from the dam on the cover of his book The Adirondacks.