Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, Moving Right Along

To play catch up, you can read the past progress reports here.

With the short week due to the New Year on Tuesday, it’s only been three days since I was at the Blackberry Creek dam removal construction site. Since I was off work all week I could hear the equipment busily moving around every day on the other side of the Fox River.

I approached the site from the west side this time wanting to get a different view of all the work. This is the side where the old bridge abutment has to be completely removed and a new one put in its place. I don’t expect this side to go as fast as the east side, but they are moving right along.

On the dam side, that’s where all the work is being done. It was cool to see that they have dug a hole down to the base of the dam and have even removed some of the backside of the dam. It’s a 175 year old dam and from the back side, it’s age shows.

It wouldn’t take much to take out what’s left of the dam once they get all the silt, sand and stone removed. It’s not that wide of a dam.

Just upstream of the dam you can see limestone ledges along the shore. Here the creek makes an almost 90 degree turn. Based on old maps I’ve seen, this is what the creek has always done, even dating back 175 years. I still think it’s going to wind up looking a lot like Waubonsie Creek just up stream of the Route 25 bridge and be limestone all the way down to the original creek bed.

When I got to the downstream coffer dam, a guy was there checking on the generator and pump that was keeping the water from pooling up behind the coffer dam. We stood on the coffer dam for awhile and talked about the project.

I forgot to ask him his name, but he’s one of the workers on the project. The construction company is apparently local and he doesn’t live that far away. He’s pretty proud of what’s going on and mentioned a couple of times that he’s looking forward to bringing his kids to see it and tell them he helped do all this work.

I can understand that.

He described how everything was going to look as things went along. He showed me where a couple of the man made riffles would be and described how they would look and function. At the info meeting on the dam back in March of 2012, I had asked if the riffles could be put off for a year to see what the creek does and whether or not they would even be necessary. It was mentioned that might be possible. He liked that idea and said he was going to bring it up again to his boss. We also talked about the limestone outcroppings further down. I told him to go look at Waubonsie Creek. He thinks the limestone will go down to the creek bed too.

In three days, they’ve removed quite a bit of the sediment. The original creek bed has a pretty steep gradient up to the old dam and in the length that was removed, they had already dug through a good six feet of the sediment. In one spot I swore I saw a limestone ledge that dropped a good foot.

It makes sense that there would be limestone ledges here. On the other side of the river, I’ve walked up the ravine near my house. Those limestone ledges are there, so why not here. It’s almost the same vertical distance to the river.

The shores are going to be lined with rock in order to prevent erosion. I’m sure initially it will look like hell, but eventually nature will rule and it shouldn’t look so drastic. That has worked on other creeks.

With the bucket in the background, you really start to get a feel for the scope of this project.

Off in the background is the upstream coffer dam which is sitting directly on the creek bed. The slope of the original creek bed is pretty impressive. Will be interesting to see how the water behaves once they let it start flowing through.

The construction guy asked a lot of questions about fish migrations up creeks. I filled him in on how all the other creeks in the area behave and what the smallmouth bass fishing was like. You could see his eyes light up. I mentioned that if the dam is all gone by April, the fish will all start moving upstream immediately for the spring spawning run. He said the only thing that would stop them from being done is whether or not the bridge will be done. It all depends on the bridge.

One thing he mentioned, finding a school of six inch long goldfish.

I guess they outgrew their fish tank. He thinks they were dumped in the pond that’s now being used as a pass through for the creek. They seem to like to hang out in one particular spot.

I never have caught a goldfish out of the Fox River or one of it’s creeks.

They’re just carp, could be interesting.

6 thoughts on “Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, Moving Right Along

    1. Ken G Post author

      I’ve laid low for a number of years Jim. Made a lot of enemies years ago with all my dam removal involvement.

      Luckily a lot of friends too. I will never understand why anyone would want to keep a useless dam, especially after you’ve walked them step-by-grueling-step through all the benefits. Some people just don’t get it.

        1. Ken G Post author

          It’s about a 300 yard stretch that’s being affected by the construction Howard and I’m sure it will look pretty beat up for a few years, but it always evens out. It’s the hordes of smallmouth bass that will be exploring new water for the first time in 175 years that I’m interested in. I guess someone should go look for those smallies…

  1. walt

    Here’s hoping you tangle with beautiful smallmouths getting oriented in that stream before long, and even hook into “goldfish” the size of geezer carp!

    1. Ken G Post author

      I am looking forward to the smallie hunting Walt.

      Years ago in another urban creek I took a canoe ride. The size of the released goldfish was pretty amazing. Some well over a foot long. Could make for an interesting fishing season.


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