Dam that’s interesting


Historical site: Trekkers taking photos at the dam.

BUKIT MERTAJAM: An age-old dam located in the Bukit Seraya forest has become an exploration hotspot for trekkers.

The abandoned three-storey-high dam and its surrounding structures are remnants of British colonial rule in the early 20th century.

It is accessible within a two hour hike over a stretch covering about 4km from the Cherok To’kun forest reserve or an hour’s hike from Sungai Lembu.

Although overgrown with vegetation, much of the dam, such as its giant arching wall, is still intact with a pool of freshwater contained within.

A small outlet located at the foot of the wall releases a constant gush of water.

Trekkers enjoying the cool water in the stream at Bukit Seraya in Bukit Mertajam. — CHAN BOON KAI/The StarTrekkers enjoying the cool water in the stream at Bukit Seraya in Bukit Mertajam. — CHAN BOON KAI/The Star

According to historical records, the dam was built by the Federated Malay States Railway (FMSR) in the mid-1920s. FMSR was renamed Keretapi Tanah Melayu in 1962.

Its main purpose was originally to provide reliable water supply for steam-powered locomotives that once chugged up and down between Bukit Mertajam and Butterworth.

These towns were crucial administrative and trading centres for Seberang Prai, which was a booming agricultural production zone during colonial times.

These days, multiple hiking trails around the hill lead to the dam and dozens of hikers arrive daily to explore it.

Pieces of railway tracks can still be found scattered around the area.

Safety precautions must be taken as some parts of the dam wall are slippery, and while on the trail, hikers are warned to be on the lookout for foraging wild boars.

Avid hiker Monica Ann@Siw Eng, 47, said she often takes her three children along to the dam.

“It is not just for the photo opportunities but also to reflect on the history left behind by our forefathers, ” she said, adding that they liked walking about the dam to take in its history.

Monica said the activity was not just beneficial in the physical sense but also provided mental calmness.

“When I’m not out cycling with my gang, I take time off for slow hikes here, sometimes spending an entire day in the jungle, ” she added.

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