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At Walter Dam, Serenity … And A Fish Or Two

At the edge of the Lehigh River in White Haven PA, made accessible thanks to the Francis E. Walter Dam, two fishermen hoped to catch "The Big One" Sunday

At the edge of the Lehigh River in White Haven PA, made accessible thanks to the Francis E. Walter Dam, two fishermen hoped Sunday to catch “The Big One.” They were disappointed

WHITE HAVEN PA – The sunshine was bright and, off the water, almost blinding at mid-day Sunday (Mother’s Day, May 10, 2015) as visitors to the Francis E. Walter Dam on Walter Dam Road made their way down to the reservoir’s edge. The temperatures were warm for a late spring day, and a slight breeze helped make things slightly cooler. The fishing? Eh, that wasn’t so hot, those who were trying it said.

Possibly the most enjoyable quality of the dam is its serenity. Even when busier with people and boats, regulars there say it’s a relatively quiet place good for contemplative recreation: kayaking, canoeing, bird and wildlife watching and, when they’re biting, catching a fish or two. Trout stocked by Pennsylvania fisheries are common, and so are small-mouth bass that according to one commentator “fight like hell and are a blast to catch.”

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Two views of the dam: above, looking from its top, with a kayak launch at left; and below, looking across the Lehigh River to see the dam intake tower in full

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The dam is, like many other such structures in the Commonwealth, a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-created project. It was built in 1961 to keep the 100-mile long Lehigh River from flooding communities downstream in the Lehigh Valley. Located in the Pocono Mountains, about three miles north of State Route 940 and equidistant from Blakeslee and Mountain Top PA, it was opened for recreation purposes in 1988.

A 74-mile drive from Sanatoga, the dam is free and open to the public. It sits within thousands of acres of state game land left natural for wildlife and conservation, and state parks are only a short drive away. Consequently, there aren’t many amenities.

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The nearby waterfall is small, but perfectly sized for family photos and easily accessible

Areas with picnic tables have been created. There’s a small but scenic waterfall that’s great for family photos. A multi-use trail (primarily for hikers, mountain bikers and horses) extends out from a field with ample parking, and could keep those interested involved for hours. Portable toilets are on site.

Swimming? Fugheddaboutit

Swimming? Fugheddaboutit

There’s no swimming allowed. Outboard boat motors are limited to no larger than 10 horsepower, so you won’t be water-skiing there either, but there are separate launch areas for motorized vessels and paddled ones.

The scenery can be spectacular at any time of year. Dining al fresco with a bag lunch, looking out east across the river toward heavily forested hillsides during autumn when leaf color is at its peak, is popular entertainment in these parts.

Popular, but still awfully quiet.

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It’s somewhat difficult for motorists traveling State Route 940 to miss the dam. The Army Corps of Engineers, which takes pride in its work, is a believer in big signage

Photos by Joe Zlomek for The Post Publications LLC

Note: Post Managing Editor Joe Zlomek is a senior contributor who ranks among the top 1-percent of that travel website’s most-read reviewers of destinations and facilities. Read other articles in this series.

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