To play catch up, you can read the past progress reports here.
One of my goals for 2012 was to put up weekly updates on the removal of the 175 year old Blackberry Creek dam.
It started out okay and I did put up a few posts, but on August 3, 2012 I gave up. There was nothing to report, the project, which was slated to be completed by the end of the year, had come to a screeching halt.
The hold up was the bridge that is collapsing. The part that is collapsing is attached to part of the dam. The work to fix the bridge and remove the dam has to be done all at once. No problem there really, but in order to start working on the bridge, some wires had to be moved. That seemed to take forever.
For the past month I’ve been hearing heavy equipment moving around on the other side of the Fox River, where the dam is. Curiosity finally got the better of me and over the long New Years weekend I went to see what was going on.
The dam removal geeks out there might want to download this pdf of the construction plans first. It’s moving along as planned now, finally.
The following shots were taken a couple of days apart, one gray day and one crystal clear. They’ve definitely moved in some big machines.
One of the new bridge abutments is just about done.
I actually behaved myself and didn’t walk across the bridge to see how the other side was progressing. Unusual for me. On my next trip there I’ll have to approach it from the other side so I can get a better view of this.
With the work going on, I even stayed out from under the bridge, just in case.
The side that is collapsing has really deteriorated the last few months.
Further upstream is more work being done.
A coffer dam was put in place on the creek.
A bypass channel was dug that drains the creek into a park pond.
Further down is the other coffer dam.
And the channel that releases water out the other side of the pond and back into the creek.
What will be interesting is what happens when they finish the work and put the pond back to normal. The creek doesn’t have much of a smallmouth bass population, but it does have largemouth and a variety of sun fishes. Might be some new species living in the pond when they’re done.
Between the two coffer dams the creek has all but dried up and dredging should start soon. The dam is almost 10 feet tall and even though the creek bed has a fairly steep gradient, there’s still a lot of sediment that has collected over the last 175 years.
The construction plans are calling it silt, but I know silt, I’ve been stuck in it on the Fox and just about all of the creeks that feed the Fox. This is not silt. Besides, I’ve walked on it. It’s pretty densely compacted sand and gravel, picture that up to 10 feet thick.
For those that are curious and live around here, you can already go see how this is probably going to look when they’re done. Years ago a dam on Waubonsie Creek in Oswego collapsed.
The construction plans for Blackberry Creek calls for the building of three sets of riffles along the newly exposed creek bed. The same thing was done on Waubonsie Creek. I initially hated them. They were just knee dams made of big rocks. For someone that likes to wade down creeks, it created a pretty dangerous hazard. Over the years though the water has been winning. Yearly high water events have been moving the rocks around and the man made riffles are looking less and less like a knee dam every year.
It will be interesting to see if the Blackberry Creek dam removal gets done by spring. Blackberry Creek already gets a pretty good run of spawning fish that time of year, even if they could only go upstream a quarter of a mile because of the dam. There are a lot of parks and forest preserves upstream that I’ve checked out over the years, but I’ve always failed to fish the creek. I have no real interest in catching largemouth bass from a creek. I’ll wait till the smallies move in and take over.
Which I’m sure they will do.