Austin Dam Ruins

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Austin Dam (in the Freeman Run Valley in Potter County) serviced the Bayless Pulp & Paper Mill and the valley below (where Austin is located) experienced a failure on the 30th of September 1911 causing much destruction and loss of life. Designed to be 30-feet thick, the dam was built only 20-feet thick which was too weak when pitted against the pressure of the water. The dams failure resulted in the deaths of 78 people and about 10 million dollars of damage. A new dam was built but that too failed in 1942 with no casualties and was not replaced after the second failure. The ruins consist of broken sections extending east to west, five upright sections, and two large and several toppled sections which were added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1987. A documentary has been produced (narrated by Willie Nelson) and a book had been written about the disaster.

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