Lake Lowered For Allegany State Park Rehabilitation Project

A view of Red House Lake from the boat rental area. Photos by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

RED HOUSE — Mid-July marked the beginning of a major construction project taking place in Cattaraugus County’s Allegany State Park. The Red House Lake Dam and Bridge Rehabilitation Project has had a great impact on the 65,000-acre park, which sees over a million visitors each year. The closure of ASP 1, the route leading to the Administration Building from the north and the major thoroughfare connecting the park to I-86, has detoured traffic around Red House Lake.

“At this point we have installed new gate valves and removed the old slide gates so that the lake can be lowered,” said Robert Norwall, project supervisor. “It’s been lowered by 6 feet and for most of the construction season, will remain at 6 feet.”

“The reason we lowered the lake was to relieve pressure on the earthen dike, so we can increase the stability of it by adding earth and stone products. We’re just improving the safety aspect of it to meet current specifications. Another reason water is lowered is to allow the replacement of the three span concrete arch bridge.”

The earthen dike meets the dam on the north side and the bridge is positioned above the concrete dam. Typically the depth of the lake is 25 feet at the dam. The absence of 6 feet of water has created a new shoreline all the way around the lake and a once floating dock resting on what was once the lake’s muddy bottom. Lily pads now rest on a dry shore.

Although there are still plenty of fish in Red House Lake, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) relocated a portion to Quaker Lake prior to the project start.

According to the DEC, both man-made lakes are stocked with brown trout and have largemouth bass, blue gill, yellow perch and brown bullhead. Quaker Lake has a small, but growing population of Northern Pike. The state park is divided into two sections, Red House Area and Quaker Run Area. One hundred and ten acre Red House Lake was created in 1929 by damming Red House Brook. Quaker Lake, the larger of the two, encompasses 2,680 acres and was formed in 1968 by impounding Quaker Run.

Locally, Nordwall of Union Concrete and Construction Corporation in West Seneca, served as project supervisor on Jamestown’s Washington Street Bridge project. The company has a large Southern Tier and Chautauqua County presence, having done many projects and currently constructing the South Main Street Bridge and two Riverwalk pedestrian bridges. Completion of the Ross Mills Bridge was done this summer by the company. They have worked on numerous projects on I-86 over the years, as well as expanding Airport Hill on Route 60 from two lanes to three lanes.

Due to safety concerns, spectators are asked not to go near the construction sight.