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Project 094 ◄| Project List |► Project 096

FBG Project D-095

Source: JDG-1

Ransom Dam & Powerhouse for Warren County Power Co

  • Columbia, NJ
  • Contract: Aug 1909
    Completed 1910
  • Engineers: Meikleham & Dinsmore
  • Demolished in 2018

This was a hollow “Ransom” dam 30 feet high and 150 feet long, built on Paulin's Kill, a tributary of the Delaware River. It was built for the Warren County Power Co, incorporated in July 1910 to provide power for the town of Columbia. The contract included a reinforced-concrete powerhouse and tailrace.

The dam was used for power generation until 1955, then sold to the state. In 1986, a new firm restored the dam to function, producing up to 530kW of power. The license for the site was good until 2025 but was surrendered by the firm as part of the plan to demolish the dam in 2016.

Ransom dams, designed by William E. Ransom of Providence, RI, are a hollow-core concrete design with interior structural bracing, designed to reduce cost and materials over solid concrete or solid-fill dams. FBG apparently became an exclusive provider of the patented design in the last year or two of company existence, but would only build two such dams. Frank Gilbreth would be a party to an extended lawsuit over use of the dam design and infringement.

The superintendent was badly injured when a derrick failed, an eerie repeat of the injuries on the Simmons Hardware project.

FBG Provenance

Multiple trade notices.


  • Demolished in 2018 as part of a widespread program to restore rivers and creeks in the northeast to their natural state by demolishing or diverting the hundreds of mill and power dams built through the early 20th century. The demolition account says the dam was 18 feet high, which probably does not include the subterranean iron plates. The powerhouse still stands.


  • Design & Construction of Dams, E. Wegmann, 1918:

  • Real Estate Record & Building Guide, 22 May 1909:

  • Trenton Evening Times, 3 Jun 1909:

  • Real Estate Record & Building Guide, 7 Aug 1909:

  • Industrial Magazine, Sep 1909:

  • Plainfield Courier-News, 21 Oct 1909:

  • Plainfield Courier-News, 28 Oct 1909:

  • Engineering-Contracting, 17 Aug 1910:

  • Ad in Sweet's Catalog of Contracting, 1911, notable for use of “Frank B. Gilbreth, Inc.,” a rare confirmation that Frank Gilbreth did change to this business name along with the change to management consulting, and did use it for the remaining life of the contracting business:

  • Columbia Dam on Paulin's Kill, ca. 2017:


Top photo taken 2017 by Meg McGuire.

warren.txt · Last modified: 2023/11/11 19:58 by