Dam, the Alps


50 years ago, trout and
salmon still swam the entire
length of the Rhine, from
North Sea to the Alps;

The last were seen in 1958.
30,000,000 people depend on
this same water too polluted to support
the life-cycles of these noble fish.

First the forests are cut down,
followed by flooding, forcing
us to further break the natural flow
with dams and straight channels,
which in turn causes more
erosion, and more flooding.

     In the Alps, of the 13,000
     kilometers of high country
     waterways, only 900 still
     run free.

There is no dam between these
rivers and the great Columbia.

(You will find here 644 characters, 109 words
distributed over 21 relatively short lines, articulated
by 4 empty spaces There are outwardly
seven key facts,
inwardly, but one.)

| view / print Picture/Poem Poster: DAM (86 K) | or download as PDF |

Photo: Differential Spring Snowmelt on Dam;  Towards the end of May. The crest of the dam shown here is at 1800 meters. The photograph was made, looking South, at a point about 250 meters above this. To the right of the dam, where there is now a reservoir, there was once a small alpine village with a school, chapel
and well-known hotel.
Click on photo to see a historic view, looking East, of the original village,
which is now completely submerged in water. (From a postcard, circa 1936.) This is a story which
has been repeated many times throughout the whole of the Alps.

Source of data: Die Urner Zeitung,,a daily newspaper based in Lucern, along
the River Reuss, Switzerland.
WOODCUTS are what I think of as thought-poems. 
They state in a simple, straight forward and sometimes humorous way what seem to me
to be astounding facts, that is to say, facts which, when we ponder them seriously, bring
out forcefully some of the unseen and perhaps contradictory assumptions upon which
the current, especially scientific, worldview is based.

To view a map of the complex watersheds of this area, go to

To view a selection of similar pieces, go to WOODCUTS: 12 Thought-poems.

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XI.25.1999 Last update: IV.19.2000)
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