Historical Cordova Lake Falls
This is one of those little gems that few people know about. Cordova Falls isn't huge, but it is impressive enough to make one wonder why it isn't more widely known. The clearest view of the whole site is obtained from atop the small concrete dam that is used to maintain the water level in Cordova Lake. Downstream of the dam, the Crowe River tumbles down a rocky channel perhaps 150 m long. The river drops about 10 metres, falling not as one main cascade, but rather in at least 5 distinct smaller drops, each separated by a short pool of calmer water. By walking along the poorly marked trail leading south from the dam, you will be able to get directly to the lower reaches of the falls.
The bedrock at all three Cordova waterfalls is different than at most other sites, and gives the falls a distinctive appearance. While stratified into layers, the rock layers "dip" into the earth at an angle of about 75 degrees. It is not a sedimentary rock, but rather is quite possibly amphibolite, a jet-black metamorphic rock formed of just one mineral, called hornblende.
By walking over the small dam and continuing on the trail on the opposite side of the waterfall, you can see the remnants of an historic waterfall. Note the low concrete berm that holds back Cordova Lake. Now imagine that this berm wasn't here. Look into the forest and you may be able to recognize the old stream bed. The concrete berm was constructed to ensure that lake water could be diverted through the dam.
This is a pretty cascade falling about 5 m over a 20 m reach. As with the other falls along this stretch of the Crowe River, the bedrock is a dark black, jagged rock. It is probably amphibolite, or some other kind of meta-volcanic rock. The falls is partially hidden behind Cordova Lake Hydroelectric Generating Station. You can see the falls from a distance at the access road, but in order to get close to the falls, you will have to go around the little generating station. I'm not sure if this is posted private property, but if you investigate the little building, you will find a way around it. From the far side of the building, the waterfall is beautiful, providing beautiful photographs framed by a lush green forest.
The English Company mined gold in the area between 1864 and 1903, and then again sporadically during the first portion of the twentieth century.
A portion of the Crowe river's discharge that would have flowed over these falls is diverted at Upper Cordova Falls and delivered 200 metres to the hydroelectric plant by a long, wooden pen stock that is easily visible entering the back side of the building. An interpretive sign gives further information about power generation from the river.
What a perfect spot for a picnic! Located just off the road to the upper and middle Cordova Falls, this spot is easily missed if you aren't careful. As a special surprise, there are actually three water falls at the site. A small island separates two waterfalls on separate branches of the river. The third falls is about 50 metres behind the eastern falls. A clearing in the forest gives the site a park-like feeling, complete with bare rock ridges shaded by large white pines
None of the three waterfalls is very spectacular on its own, yet together they make the site quite peaceful and relaxing. The Crowe River widens to a small pond below the falls, before continuing south and separating once again into two different channels.