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4
The Almond Dam--Part 2
(Continued from page 3)
the effort on the job. We had no power tools at all, just hand tools. There was no plywood, and we built
concrete forms from tongue and grove boards with hand saws, planes, hammers, squares and levels," he
recalled.
"It was a fun trip," he explained. "The war was over, and the pressure was off. Things were
good. People had money to spend, because they weren't able to buy a lot of things during the war, and
they had saved through war bonds," he said. "It was also an interesting project," he went on. "How
many carpenters get to build a dam?"

An e-mail from Dave Ferry, son of the late Hiram Ferry of the
Bishopville Rd, now living in St. Louis, tells of his experiences: "I worked
on the Almond Dam for two summers with the US Engineer Corps as a rod
man on their survey crew. The crew's job was to check out all the work
done by the contractors and their surveyors to make sure it met specifica-
tions, and that the right materials were used in the right places, " he ex-
plained.

He also called it a "fun job", and one that he was fortunate to land
the summer of 1947 upon his discharge from the US Army. However, he
explains that he had no knowledge of surveying when he started. "I re-
member the first day on the job, when they handed me this `rod', which
was calibrated in feet and inches. This is the device the transit looks at to
read the elevation. They told me to go over on the foundation (where one
of the houses had been) and get on the bench. They thought I knew what I
was doing. As I walked over to this location, I kept wondering why anyone
would want to sit on a bench out in the middle of nowhere. I found no such
bench. When I walked back and told them I couldn't find a bench to sit on
in the area, they had a big laugh. They thought I knew what I was doing
when I was hired! So they had to train me from the beginning. I found out that a bench is a benchmark,
a permanent point of some kind that has the exact reading of that elevation above sea level. This is the
point that a survey has to start from to determine the elevations of the surrounding area. I found out later
that the reason I got the job without experience was because of a letter sent by one of my references, Mr.
(John) Gilmore, principal at Alfred-Almond.. His letter said such good things about me, they hired me
without experience. I guess Mr. Gilmore didn't really know me very well," he joked.
He went on to explain: "There were jobs with high priorities, such as
immediately checking the forms for pouring concrete after the construction sur-
veyors had approved them. There were other jobs that had to be done on a rou-
tine basis such as checking the types of fill as the dam went up. Then there were
other jobs that could be done as there was time, such as surveying the final lev-
els on both sides of the dam for permanent records. We also checked the eleva-
tions every 50 ft or so from the dam from one end to the other, up stream and
down stream which often meant wading the stream and taking elevations on the
bottom of that too. We had no pagers, no cell phones, but there was a routine
that worked and got the job done. And, when we were caught up with nothing
pressing, then we headed for berry picking and naptime in the woods. Didn't
happen often, but there were times. It was usually towards the end of the day or
on a Saturday afternoon!"
"We worked ten hours a day, six days a week, much of the time trying
to keep up with all the various construction going on at one time. There were
five of us on the crew and we rode around in a classy wood-paneled Ford Station
wagon to the various sites. If we got behind it meant construction was held up
until we could get to the location to check out the process. The pay was good
and I actually got a raise when I started my second summer. Whenever I'm
back in the area and drive down the road by the dam, it brings back a lot of good
memories of the guys I worked with back then," he closed.
A great deal of the undertaking was labor intensive and afforded young men an employment op-
portunity during their college years. Gene Allen worked two years while a student at Alfred. "The first
summer, I broke up rocks with a maul. They would bring in a load of fill, and the rocks had to be broken
up by hand! The next summer, I was on the concrete gang, putting grout in the tunnel and constructing
the spillway. We had big concrete pours: 500 yards a day. That was a LOT of concrete, and we worked,
rain or shine. They would pump a load of concrete into the forms and we had to work it with electric vi-
(Continued on page 5)
Almond Historical Society Newsletter
The Forms
for the Tower
Workers Wait
for the Next
Truck on
Rip Rap Screen