The East Barre Dam in Barre is located on the Jail Branch of the Winooski River. From Barre, the dam can be reached by traveling two miles east on Route 302. The project provides flood protection primarily to Barre and Montpelier. In conjunction with Waterbury Reservoir and Wrightsville Reservoir, the project reduces flood damage to other communities downstream on the Winooski River, including Waterbury.
Construction of the dam began in July 1933 and was completed in November 1935. The project consists of an earthfill dam with stone slope protection 1,460 feet long and 65 feet high; a 313-foot-long concrete rectangular conduit four feet wide and seven feet high; and a spillway with a 174-foot-long concrete ogee weir. The weir’s crest elevation is 20 feet lower than the top of the dam. The East Barre Dam was one of four flood damage reduction projects constructed in Vermont by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Construction was overseen by the Corps’ North Atlantic Division. Because of accounting procedures, the construction costs of East Barre Dam were not calculated separately, but instead lumped together with the construction costs of Waterbury Reservoir, Wrightsville Reservoir, and the Winooski River Local Protection Project. The construction costs of these four projects totaled $13.7 million. Following completion, East Barre Dam was turned over to the State of Vermont for operation and maintenance.
The present day dimensions of the dam are the result of two major modifications. The first modification, which began in December 1956, allows a greater amount of water to pass through the spillway, increasing the dam’s structural integrity. The work included raising the dam’s elevation by 10 feet, lengthening it 420 feet, enlarging the discharge capacity of the conduit, constructing new spillway approach and discharge channels, and constructing a new weir. These improvements, completed in August 1960, required the relocation of 2,917 feet of U.S. Route 302, 1,875 feet of Route 110, and power and telephone lines. The second modification began in June 1959 and involved the construction of a new outlet stilling basin, which was necessitated by the increased conduit discharge capacity. This work was completed in May 1960 at a cost of $3 million. A third modification to East Barre Dam, accomplished between June-November 1985, included the reconstruction of the stilling basin. This modification cost $309,900.
There is no lake at East Barre Dam. The flood storage area of the project, which is normally empty and utilized only to store floodwaters, totals 675 acres and extends 2.5 miles upstream through Orange and Washington. The project and associated lands cover 374 acres. East Barre Dam can store up to 3.9 billion gallons of water for flood control purposes. This is equivalent to 5.8 inches of water covering its drainage area of 38.7 square miles.
Although there are no designated trails, project lands are used for snowmobiling. Native brook trout and self-sustaining brown trout can be found in Jail Branch, which runs through the project. There is in-season hunting for woodcock.
- Updated: 11 June 2015