ARI DENISON one camera, one lens, one year

Leaburg Dam and Canal

Leaburg Dam on the McKenzie River in Oregon

Fishing from the piers in Monterey and up the McKenzie River at the Leaburg dam are some of my few remaining childhood memories of time spent with my dad. At the dam we sat on the man-made outcroppings on the highway 126 side of the reservoir, or on the river banks near the picnic areas. We cast our lines into the shadows where we figured, incorrectly, fish hide from the sun. Between father and son it was a great way to waste an afternoon. We caught a few rainbow trout, even a decent sized one just below the dam. Of course, it was never about the fish as much as the time together. Now it looks like there's a 1 in 2 chance that they are going to remove the Leaburg Dam due to issues and expenses with repairing the hydropower system. I'm all for dam removal but I can't help but have some mixed feelings about losing the places where I spent time with my dad. He's gone now, has been for a couple of years. The McKenzie river valley is already almost unrecognizable after the wildfires that came not long before he died. It's difficult to take all the change in, the place looks barren and sharp. I didn't realize that I expected these kinds of things would always be around. In reality there are few things like this left, and none immune to change or destruction.

A lot of my older memories have started slipping away since I became a parent. Countless first moments and a million comfortable routines with my girls make up the majority of my memory now. As they should. But it seems I've safely stored a few of these older memories outside of my mind. They can only be retrieved when I visit the place where they were made-like some sort of afterlife geocache. Leaburg Dam may be going away soon, and I look forward to the time when a team of industrious beavers replaces it with something much healthier for spawning steelhead, but I will miss the place. I'm hoping that by visiting the dam a few more times with my 4x5 camera I can transfer a few of those important memories to sheets of film and then onto a nice fiber-based photographic print that I can hold in my hand. Maybe I'll use one of my mom's old cameras.

Leaburg Dam McKenzie River Memories 4x5 Ilford Analog FP4+ Highway 126

Prints are not available for this image.