It was an earthen dam, typical of many built during the mid-19th century. Initially, it was to be part of a Pennsylvania transportation system that included a series of canals. During dry summer months, the reservoir impounded by this dam would provide much needed water for the canals.
It was well built. Construction was overseen by qualified engineers. Sluice pipes built into the base and a substantial spillway at the northern end of the dam provided efficient and effective means of running water out of the reservoir during periods of heavy rains and runoffs from spring thaws. It posed very limited risk to those who lived in the valley below the dam.