Celebrating the Centennial of Alpine Dam, 1919–2019

by Laurie Thompson

Note: While our in-person exhibit has ended, you can visit our digital collection any time.

Construction of Alpine Dam in 1918. © MMWD

In celebration of the Centennial of Alpine Dam in 1919, the Anne T. Kent California Room in partnership with the Marin Municipal Water District (MMWD), invite you to visit our exhibit at the Civic Center Library and to view our online display

Alpine Dam and Reservoir, circa 1950. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.

The exhibit is located in the California Room’s display cases at the Civic Center Library and includes some rare artifacts and 100-year old tools from the MMWD’s collection.

© MMWD

The exhibit tells the story of “the completion of the most extensive and auspicious enterprise in the history of Marin County,” as reported by the Mill Valley Record on June 28, 1919.

The Record goes on to describe the official dedication ceremony which took place on June 21, 1919:

A cloudless sky and a bracing atmosphere made the scenic ride from Mill Valley to the dam…a constant delight….

“The little fawns bounding ahead of the auto or gracefully springing down the steep slopes were a reminder that Tamalpais is a game refuge. Stories were told on the trip of Johnnie the fawn, who in construction days at the camp became the pet of Jerry, the cook, and came to his call. When camp was broken, poor Johnnie was bewildered and finally went back to the herd….

Visitors began arriving at the dam before noon…but the far greater number came in the early afternoon and were conducted on an inspection tour of the engineering structure before the formal program….

The beautiful lake created by the backing of the water behind the dam has a surface area of 135 acres and will hold more than a billion gallons of water….

According to the Water District “Alpine is unique among MMWD’s seven dams as the only concrete one in our system (all the others are earthen). When it was built, the dam contained 27,719 cubic yards of concrete and held just over a billion gallons of water. The dam was raised in 1924 and again in 1941 to its current capacity of nearly 2.9 billion gallons-about 11% of our total water storage capacity.

Hikers from the Romany Club (Oakland) visiting Alpine Dam in 1919. Anne T. Kent California Room Collection.

We invite you to visit our display at the Civic Center Library and learn more about the history of the Alpine Dam and reservoir.

Originally published at https://annetkent.kontribune.com.

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Anne T. Kent California Room

Anne T. Kent California Room

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