University of Wisconsin Eau Claire


Half Moon Lake Canal

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Half Moon Lake Canal
Dells Dam Improvement Project
Bathymetric Map
GPR Winter
GPR Summer

Local Perspectives

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The Half Moon Lake Canal was essential to Eau Claire's Lumber Industry. Built in 1857, the canal enabled Half Moon Lake to be used as a log reserviour. However, the lake was an estimated 8 feet higher than the Chippewa River and in early days of usage could only have logs pushed through in periods of higher water levels or have horses pull the logs through into Half Moon Lake. The photo below shows where the Canal was located in relation to the Chippewa River. The canal was approximately 1200 feet long. It was 18 feet wide at the bottom and 8 feet wide at ground level. The depth of the canal was most likely between 9 and 12 feet because where the canal would enter Half Moon Lake was approximately that depth and it was located roughly 8 feet above the Chippewa.

In order to "trap" the logs and to get them into the canal a massive "wing" dam or finboom was constructed. It was a major project and had a total cost of 35,000 dollars (1857 dollars!!). The boom was developed by Levi Wesley Pond, who owned a small mill located on Half Moon Lake, but only for a few years. The Sheerboom, as seen in the picture, would open and close to allow various types of river craft to continue down the Chippewa River. It was most likely opened up the majority of the time as logs were not continuously flowing down the river. The logs would come down the river, and be directed into the canal. This was usually in mid march when the ice was melting upstream where the logs were prepared to be "driven" down the river. This is also the time the Chippewa is in it's flood stage and so water levels were usually high enough to get the logs into Half Moon Lake.