The Cold Stream Dam is a popular recreation spot on state Road 322 in Philipsburg. Throughout its history, the dam has suffered mishaps, most notably in 1936, when it broke and water flooded the downtown. However, the dam has weathered the problems and survived to remain an important local resource.
A lake was created in the 1800s by damming Cold Stream. The dam was damaged by a historic flood on St. Patrick’s Day 1936 that sent water throughout much of downtown.
The dam was repaired but, in the years afterward, regular maintenance often was ignored. A late winter storm in 1993 caused a section of the dam to break, and several inches of water spilled onto nearby downtown streets.
In 2009, the state Department of Environmental Protection determined that the dam was unsafe and threatened to remove it unless the borough of Philipsburg made repairs. After repeated delays because of a lack of funding, a $2.3 million project to replace the breast of the dam and spillway was finally completed in 2017.
For decades, the lake was a beloved area for swimming during the summer. For safety reasons, swimming is no longer permitted, but the lake remains a popular spot for fishing. The recreation area has a playground, picnic pavilions, and a bandstand.
The dam area is a featured location for Philipsburg’s Heritage Days summer celebration. Live music, Civil War reenactments, the fireworks display, and other activities are held at the park.
In the Christmas season, the dam is the site for the giant Santa Claus that has been displayed more than 50 years. The 37-foot-tall Santa, with a 16-foot-tall bag of toys, was built by Bill Adams of the Philipsburg American Legion post and is a beloved tradition in Philipsburg.
Mitchell Ross, “Cold Stream Dam fully open for public use.” The Progress, September 19, 2017.
First Published: August 18, 2021
Last Modified: October 8, 2021