The dam is located on the Rock River between the cities of Rock Falls and Sterling, in Illinois.
It was first build to raise the water level of the Rock River enough to supply water through a feeder canal to the main part of the Hennepin Canal. The Hennepin Canal was build from 1892 to 1907. By the time that it was completed, rapid technological advances in transportation had made the canal out of date. It never reached expected shipping goals and was finally closed to traffic in 1951.
In the 1980's a plan was developed by the city of Rock Falls to use this dam as a hydroelectric facility. It was rebuild to contain the generating plant and was Dedicated July 22, 1988.