Construction of the original dam, or barrage, was started in 1857 and completed in 1861. It was linked to the hydro-electric generation plant that supplied electricity to the Mame paper mills in La Haye-Descartes. This power supply continued right up to 1961.
Between 1980-85 the barrage was restored and it then supplied 8 million kilowatts of electricity per year to the main grid. The two existing fish ladders (constructed in 1878 and 1880) were also replaced with the system of 10 chambers which are illustrated below. An eel channel was also created. The fish passing through the system are automatically photographed and their numbers recorded. Click here for the Logrami web site and further details on how fish are assisted in overcoming the barriers to the sea in the Loire Basin.
If you have an opportunity do visit the barrage, it’s a beautiful and interesting stroll along the River Creuse. Just head down to the Pont Henri IV bridge and take a right turn and walk along the river bank.A further, old, image of the barrage is available here.