Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, Mostly Done With One Section

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

In case you haven’t done it, you might want to download this pdf of the construction plans first. I’m fascinated by this stuff.

Whenever I see a bunch of construction equipment lined up nice and neat at a construction site, it usually means they are done with one part of a project and waiting for the next to begin. Up until this day the equipment was spread out all over the construction site.

On the down side of the dam, it’s hard to tell that anything has been changing. All of the water is still coming through a breach on the east side.

On the west side of the dam a metal retaining wall is propped in place. I’ll get to more on that further down in this post.

Back at the construction site where I’ve been documenting things as they move along, it looks like they finished riffle number three and also finished all the shore structure that goes along with it.

They have even laid down the layer of grass seed embedded stuff made out of coconut. I know this stuff has a name, but I’ll be damned if I can find it.

They’ve even thrown down grass seed where the cover ends and the dirt begins. Seems a little premature to me considering that it’s January and the ground is pretty well frozen. I’m sure they’ll be putting down more come March.

What seems a little odd to me is that they left a fair amount of dirt in place on the creek bed where riffle number three ends. The dirt is at just about the same level where the riffle ends.

The dirt goes on for about 50 feet then abruptly slopes down to the creek bed.

I’ve waded a lot of the Fox River and almost a dozen of the creeks that feed into the Fox. I’ve also fished a number of other rivers and creeks in Northern Illinois. All of them have hard rock bottoms even in the more level, slower sections. Flowing water will always wear everything away down to rock. After a year or two of high, fast water events, all this dirt is going to get washed away. Especially since it’s sitting at the bottom of that man made riffle. The churning water at the end of the riffle will do a pretty good job of getting rid of all this dirt.

In the following image you can see the difference in the rock on the opposite shore where the dirt slopes down to the creek bed.

I already know what’s going to happen. All that dirt is going to get blown out, including the dirt under the rocks. The rocks are going to slide down the now man made embankment to fill the void and expose more of the shore to erosion. I’ll bet they come back here in a couple of years to dump more rock along this 50 foot stretch in order to fill in what slid down into the creek.

We’ll see.

Right now it looks like a pretty well manicured channel waiting for water.

At normal water levels, right about where I was standing to take that picture, it will be about two feet deep because of riffle number two that they built. I want to come here when the creek is flowing high, fast and muddy to see what it does to all this rock.

The next phase will be an interesting feat of engineering. Now they have to remove the upper coffer dam, cut off the flow that has been diverted through the park pond, and redirect the creek to what they are calling a temporary drop outlet.

Basically they have to go from here…

To here…

Through here…

And I’m assuming at that point the creek will be flowing through these…

Connecting up to this…

And winding up back in the creek once they take out that metal retaining wall you saw in the picture back at the top of this post. Then they can start dredging out the next stretch.

I have a feeling that’s going to take a little longer than the stretch they just completed.

Barely a hundred yards upstream of the coffer dam, you would never know you were standing right near this construction site. Maybe some day the reclaimed part of the creek will look like this, but I have a feeling it won’t be in my life time.

The creek is flowing along like it probably has been for a few thousand years, oblivious to anything man is doing further down stream. Down at creek level I stood on the bank at the only spot where the creek could be easily accessed.

A few years ago I fished from that spot up stream for a good half mile. The usual carp were around. Caught some creek chubs, rock bass and largemouth bass. Hopefully when the dam is gone the smallies will come in and replace the largemouth.

But remember what I said about that being the only easily accessible spot. If you come fish here, after hiking up stream to fish, you’re going to want to wade back down stream to get out at this easily accessible spot.

I didn’t do that.

I thought it would be much quicker to cut through the woods to get back to my car.

That trip back to my car easily makes my top ten list of Stupidest Things I’ve Ever Done While Out Fishing Creeks.

You’ll just have to take my word on it.

6 thoughts on “Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, Mostly Done With One Section

  1. Ken G Post author

    It’s not a big project, well, maybe, but there’s not much room to work. It’s a pretty narrow area. Plus the dam is connected to the bridge piling that collapsed so it is a bit more involved.

    I’m looking forward to the fish migrations. Over the years when I’ve fished right below the dam I’ve tossed all the smallies 10 feet into the air and over the dam. Must be a rush for them. The last couple of years the guys that knew I was doing this let me know that they were catching smallies much further up stream. So my private stocking must have worked.

  2. Quill Gordon

    The coconut fiber is called “coir”. Some pronounce it “kwar” others say “core”. Either way, considering all the places I’ve seen it, that is a lot of freakin’ coconuts.

    I think it’s pretty cool, no matter how one feels about the process, for you to be able to document this so close to home.

    1. Ken G Post author

      Someone put up that one word, coir, as a comment on Facebook with no further explanation. Now I get it and thanks for the explanation Quill. I was thinking the same thing about coconut quantities. I wonder who peals them?

      I am fascinated by the whole process and I’ve always been attracted to large equipment and construction projects. I will have to pay closer attention when I’m out there though. My days as a young mountain goat are pretty much over and I would imagine falling down all that rock is going to sting a bit.


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