It wasn’t easy for people to give up their homes and land when the Siskiyou Electric Power and Light Co. chose Ward Canyon on the Klamath River in Northern California as the site of COPCO Dam No. 1.

The canyon offered a perfect dam site where the river cut through an ancient anthracite rock wall topped with basalt more than 200 feet high and only 75 feet wide.

The idyllic but isolated valley upriver from the canyon was not heavily populated, but the people who lived there by fishing, hunting and ranching loved their lands. They faced eviction when the dam was built.

Reluctant to leave, they recognized the country needed electricity to progress, and everyone sold, including Kitty Ward. When the time came to leave, she refused at first, saying she preferred to drown in the cabin she and her late husband had built. But her friend Andy Marlow convinced her to move to Hornbrook and she never returned to the valley.

Today there’s a proposal to remove COPCO Dam No. 1 from the Klamath River, restoring the valley once again, but to whom?

Source: Boyle, John C. 50 Years on the Klamath. Medford, Ore.: Kocker Printery, 1976. 9-11. Print.

— As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.