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Timber crib dams were erected of heavy timbers or dressed logs in the manner of a log house and the interior filled with earth or rubble. The heavy crib structure supported the dam's face and the weight of the water.
Apenas deixando mais uma sugestão (de certa forma parecida com a do Nick).
Nesse contexto, crib = framework:
http://www.dictionary.com/browse/crib Civil Engineering.
crib = any of various cellular frameworks of logs, squared timbers, or steel or concrete objects of similar form assembled in layers at right angles, often filled with earth and stones and used in the construction of foundations, dams, retaining walls, etc.
timber crib dam = barragem com estrutura de madeira