Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, Lots of Work, Lots of Pictures, Lots of Goldfish

To play catch up, you can read the past progress reports here.
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For some of us, part of our still primitive brains are fascinated with moving things around, or at least watching things get moved around. We were the ones as kids sitting in the dirt or sand boxes. Little toy trucks were pushed around while we made growling noises deep in our throats or farting noises with our lips and we moved dirt or sand from one side to the other. If we really new what we were doing, when we put things in reverse we’d be saying beep, beep, beep.

There are others out there with that still functioning primitive brain. A trip to a beach during the summer will find them. They’re the ones building elaborate sand castles and irrigation systems. If you get up close to them you can probably hear faint growling and farting noises.

I mentioned the other day that I still do this with snow when I shovel. This must all explain why I get a kick out of walking around a mud covered construction site taking pictures of tons of dirt getting moved around.

There are two other people in the area that have this same fascination. Our footprints in the snow and mud are the only ones daring to venture where no others will go. So far, not butt prints in the mud have been found.

Well, anyway… There was a lot of noise coming from across the river all week. A midweek drive by showed they were starting to dredge the next section of the creek behind the dam.

Sure enough, the lower pond bypass channel has been cut off.

On the opposite end, the bypass channel is still open and the water looks like it’s flowing out of the pond.

This has dropped the level of the pond even more.

A reader of these posts named Steve asked how this is all going to affect the fishing in the pond. That’s been in the back of my mind and I’ll have to start asking some questions about this. I have seen carp and minnows going in and out of the bypass channel, with the pond lower now I wonder if more left.

The upper coffer dam has been removed, kind of. More like moved out of the way, but they have to clean it up so whatever works for them.

When you stand above the creek and look out over this water it seems like a lot of water. It’s now all flowing through another bypass channel and down the standpipe.

This goes down through the culvert and back into the creek under the collapsing bridge. For some reason how this looks is not what I expected. Like I said, up above it looks like quite a bit of water, but coming out the culvert, not so much.

The lower coffer dam has been reinforced with more gravel and dirt. A good thing considering how much snow and rain we could get this time of year. I’ve seen this and many other creeks completely blown out and overflowing their banks in the spring. Hopefully all the timing will be right and this project gets done before that happens.

It’s kind of cool to walk out on the creek bed and yet know that you’re a good five feet above the original creek bed. The top layer here is all gravel.

As you walk further down, all the gravel disappears and it’s all silt, or dirt.

I’ve had experience trying to walk on this. One time in particular I sank in up to my crotch and it took a half hour to dig myself out and move only five feet back to solid shore. This looked solid and I was considering giving it a try when I came across this.

That is an imprint of a deer that belly flopped onto the silt. I figured that if a deer with four legs couldn’t walk on this stuff, me with just two legs didn’t stand a chance. I stuck to the more solid shore.

It will be interesting to see what they uncover in the stretch that runs down to the dam. There’s a limestone ledge that has been exposed. I’ve seen this on a few other creeks up and down the river and wonder if it goes all the way down to the original creek bed. The other creeks all do that, why not this one.

Down by the dam there’s an excavator sitting in the middle of the creek.

They’ve already dug out quite a bit and the whole back of the dam is exposed for the first time in 175 years.

Earlier in the week I was watching them do a tag team effort in getting all this sediment out of here. The one excavator dumps it on the shore, another excavator picks it up from there and moves it about 100 feet out of the way. A wheel loader picks it up from there and dumps it into a dump truck. A few hundred yards away they’re building a good sized hill with all this dirt.

If I had half a brain and a pickup truck I’d go beg them for a few loads of this dirt. It’s 175 years of rich black Illinois farmland that would probably make one hell of a raised vegetable garden. You would think it’s about as nutrient rich as it can get. Seems like a waste to keep dumping it out into that field.

After that I went wandering all over the creek bed to see what was left behind. Plenty of clam shells everywhere.

I had no clue what this was till I got right up on top of it. An upside down dead snapping turtle.

For the most part, the rest of the found objects were all human garbage, starting with a fishing lure that was buried in the mud.

The usual tires.

And the never ending reproduction of golf balls. It’s been 39 years since I’ve done any golfing, but I remember a Titleist One being a good ball to use.

Then there were the goldfish.

I don’t recall seeing any goldfish up till now. I have a feeling they were in the pond and got cut off from going back to the pond when the bypass channel was blocked. I’m assuming people thought it was a good idea to get goldfish for their kids. Then, being the carp that they are, they kept getting bigger. Rather than flushing them down the toilet, which I’m sure would have traumatized the kids involved, they were set free in the pond.

This is just a trickle of water they’re swimming around in. Had to be at least 50 of them.

I already know their fate. A little further down is the excavator. This little trickle of water flows down and behind the dam. Here sits a pump that sucks up the water that collects. It sucks it up and spits it all out on the other side of the dam.

I have a feeling the goldfish will emerge on the down stream side of the dam in lots of little colorful pieces of gold that might slightly resemble the pet fish they once were.

4 thoughts on “Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, Lots of Work, Lots of Pictures, Lots of Goldfish

  1. Nick@BrookfieldAngler.com

    Take me to the goldfish!

    I too share your fascination with things that move dirt as well as the things that are uncovered. Most of it is pure rubbish but I still wonder and imagine what the history of that rubbish is.

    1. Ken G Post author

      It was tempting to do something with those goldfish, but what am I going to do with them…. honey, look what I brought home?

      There are all kinds of little things mixed in with all that dirt Nick. Lots of pieces of glass that you know is old, they don’t make bottles like that anymore. Finding things is one of the reasons I go wandering around the islands in the river. Amazing what you find on them.

  2. Jim McClellan

    You might take some comfort in knowing that I also share whatever brand of mental illness causes that fascination. I love watching the slow, prodding processes that eventually produce something where nothing was before. Or in this case, returning it to the way it was. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Ken G Post author

      Thank you Jim. If you lived up this way, you’d probably be the third set of foot prints in all the mud. I’ve heard say that 10 percent of the fishermen catch 90 percent of the fish. I think we’re the ones out wandering around like fools at sites like this.

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