The original Dells Dam was built in 1878 during the logging boom. A sluiceway allowed logs to pass the dam and were diverted to Eau Claire's Half Moon Lake for storage. In 1882, the city of Eau Claire installed an electric generator on the dam and since then various interests have used the Dells water power for grinding pulpwood, generating electricity and pumping water.
In 1924, a new dam was completed 100 feet downstream from the original structure. the city of Eau Claire owned the dam itself and the larger of the two powerhouses on the site until Xcel Energy purchased it in 2003.
The Dells Hydro facility abuts a major pulp and paper mill company building and creates an 1,183 acre impoundment known as Dells Pond.
The generating units at the Dells project were upgraded or replaced in a major redevelopment project in 2007-09. The project increased the generating capacity of the site, as well as the amount of energy produced.
During major maintenance work in 1979 the water level in Dells Pond was lowered more than 20 feet giving area residents a rare opportunity to see the original dam still standing upstream of the new one.
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