Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, This Can’t be Good

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

Last week I started working again for the first time in over 2 months. It has the potential of turning into a full time job, something I haven’t had in nearly three years. I’ve always put more emphasis on time rather than money, but I guess it will be nice to get that first check soon. I’ve been buggy to get over to the Blackberry Creek Dam Removal site all week to see if any work was getting done. With the extra hour of daylight we gained this week, I finally got there today.

It looks like the beginning of spring is going to start out normal, which means a slow warm up and rain, or some snow yet. The near foot of snow we got in Yorkville has all started melting away and the rain is doing it’s part in helping that along. Though the top layer of dirt, now mud, is thawed, just under the surface it’s frozen solid. Which means the water has nowhere to go but down stream, carrying all that topsoil with it.

A cruise on Sunday showed the farm fields around me turning into shallow ponds. The amount of waterfowl taking advantage of that was amazing. All the ditches, gullies and ravines were full and flowing fast, all toward the creeks and Fox River. The river and a few creeks are all responding accordingly, coming up fast and taking on the color of coffee with a bit of cream.

I usually don’t go walking around the site during the week and I started like usual at the park on the north side. Sure enough, the coffer dam had been breached and the water was flowing quickly around it and down into the area that was getting dredged. I wasn’t dressed for wandering around in ankle deep mud so I headed for the bridge.

The dredged out section was completely filled with water and behaving like a creek again.

I went through my collection and found a couple of photos I took in February of 2012. They show a nice before and after effect.

That’s a lot of water coming through the old dam now. On the other side, the old bridge pylon that has been slowly crumbling took a beating. This is what it looked like a year ago.

It will be interesting to see what happens next. There’s not much left holding up the bridge. This came down since Saturday, the last time I visited here. The water is taking it’s toll.

Before they started dredging behind the dam, the sediment had come within a foot of the top of the dam. Now the water is a good eight feet deep. The weak spots in the dam have made themselves apparent. Water is coming through the face of the dam. The weight of sediment tends to go straight down. The weight of the water is pushing against the dam. It will be interesting to see if the dam can handle it or if the water will knock it over.

There’s a lot of water rushing out of the culvert now. I have a feeling that’s what sped up the collapse of the bridge pylon. You can see how the water is boiling up in that area.

It was a smart move to take the excavator out of the middle of the creek last week. It would be interesting fish structure right now if they hadn’t.

Luckily there’s not much rain in the forecast for the next 10 days. Maybe the bridge won’t collapse and the dam won’t fall over. But you never know. There’s still a lot of water coming down the creek. No matter how much man tries to control water, to move it around, hold it back, one thing is certain…

Water always wins.

10 thoughts on “Blackberry Creek Dam Removal Update, This Can’t be Good

    1. Ken G Post author

      I think all the silt and dirt acted as a barrier all these years Howard. With that gone, anything goes. I stopped walking around under the bridge back in November when the cracks in the pylon got worse. I think it’s smart to avoid it even more know.

      The grown man wants to see everything done in a controlled manner. The little boy in me wants to see it all come crashing down on it’s own. Wish I could time it and be there when it happens.

  1. Owl Jones

    Those are some pretty amazing shots. I’m with Howard – I bet that thing won’t last long, more rain or not. 175 year old structures aren’t usually in any shape to withstand that much pressure! What was the original purpose of the dam? Trying to stop the bridge from washing away in floods? That seems silly, but ???

    1. Ken G Post author

      Hey Mr. Jones,
      I agree on the water pressure. There’s the one bigger leak in the middle that you can see in the shots, but lots of little ones seeping through other seams. No real rain called for in the next 10 days, so they might get lucky.

      Off on the side are a few remnants of what used to be the sawmill. You really wouldn’t know that unless you knew more of the history.

      Been watching your progress with your paintings. I like all the bold colors you use. Good luck with them and be patient. It’s tough to keep going when nothing is selling and you think nobody cares. Just a matter of time and perseverance.

  2. Olaf

    Water ALWAYS wins! That simple fact is one of the main things that keeps me from losing hope when I see the stupid ways we abuse it. When water wins, the fish win. And that means obsessive anglers like me get a shot at a little taste of winning.
    I’m with the little boy: I want to see dams come crashing down.

    1. Ken G Post author

      You just have to be patient some times. Water has all the time in the world to do what it wants to do. For me, this opens up miles of creeks to explore. My obsession.

      Checked out your site quickly. I’m going to pass it on to friend Norm Minas who fishes the Kankakee a lot. He’s changing his focus this year a bit to go after the different sucker species. He might get a kick out of what you have.

      1. Olaf

        Great! Thanks. The more the merrier. I’ve heard Norm on Dale Bowman’s show. Along with my yearly goal to explore more of the Fox, this year I’m really planning to give the Kankakee a serious amount of attention.
        Feel free to spread the word about the redhorse ID sheets on my site to anyone you think might benefit from them. The Fox has (in some areas) decent redhorse variety, but most of the people I’ve talked to while fishing (not just on the Fox, but everywhere) are not aware that there are multiple species of redhorse, or even that there is such a thing as redhorse at all.
        Can’t wait to see what suckers make their way up Blackberry when it’s open to them. Hoping it will be like other creeks that feed the Fox in that area that have good variety and strong numbers of redhorses, buffalo, quillbacks and hogsuckers.
        I wish spring would get here! I’m itching to start chasing them.

        1. Ken G Post author

          Put up a link on Facebook last night, you should see a little hit on your site. Definitely get in touch with Norm if you’re going to start exploring the Kank, he’s a good guy, you’ll enjoy the conversations.

          People lump suckers in with carp and don’t realize that they need much cleaner water to survive. There’s one creek by me where I see the most northern hogsuckers. For the short run up to the dam, Blackberry has always got some big sucker runs. It will be interesting to see what they do with another 20 or so miles to go explore.

          1. Olaf

            My favorite creek in all of NE Illinois is not far from you, and it’s where I caught my first quillback (my first sucker ever), my first shorthead redhorse, and my first hogsucker. I think Blackberry has the potential to really shine in terms of native species, especially if the gradient is as good as your dam removal posts seem to indicate.
            I’d love to know more about good sucker streams in your area, so drop me an email if you feel like divulging anything sensitive. I’m planning on adding underwater photography of native species to my fishing hobby this year, so the more streams I can try in a given area, the more chance I’ll be able to find good fish in clear water and get the shots.

            1. Ken G Post author

              Olaf, we’ll keep in touch on this topic. I have a feeling I know the creek you’re talking about quite well 🙂 Feel free to email me too if you have specifics you want to ask.

              Further up stream on Blackberry the gradient isn’t like the other creeks not far down stream. Lots of good looking runs, but a bit flatter. That’s why I’m looking forward to the exploring later. I want to see if the fish like it enough to stick around.

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