Though I was out of town for the first couple of days of construction, I stopped by Thursday evening (the 23rd) and again on Tuesday evening (the 26th) to check out the progress and the new river.
On the 23rd, I drove upstream about half of a mile or so to a small boat/canoe launch to look at the river levels there. This spot also is where the Salt Creek empties into the Des Plaines. Here are some photos.
|Close up of the boat|
|One of the last remaining puddles of water in the mud flat. Before I took this picture, there was a small family of ducks splashing around in the puddle.|
|I moved below the dam next......here is a shot of the crane in action from below|
|This shot gives a bit of perspective to the size of the dam and the notch so far|
|Dam removal draws quite the crowd of curious onlookers. The conversations that I overheard were incredibly varied. There are a lot of different opinions on this project.|
|This is the boat launch that I mentioned before. That mound of rocks had been about two feet below the water surface before the dam removal.|
|I am standing at the edge on the launch which just a couple of weeks ago, would have been able to launch a relatively decent size boat.|
|All of this rock and dirt used to be riverbed...now it's land|
|You can tell what used to be under water pretty well with this picture|
|This is the mouth of the Salt Creek which was typically about three feet deep...now it's a shallow running rapid. Some signs of the litter that sat int he rivers depths are being now exposed. I think I have snagged a few lures on that tire....|
|Twenty feet up stream on the Salt. Look at all of that mud|
|The new look of the Salt Creek in this area. Traditionally, this looked more like a slow moving pool of water. Now it looks like a natural rocky stream capable of much more life!|
|Surprisingly clear water for a stream that is considered to be void of life. This is a welcoming look for me!|
I was almost instantly shown that life still exists when I witness a mom with her young son fishing from the wall. They had a bucket full of blue gill and seemed to be catching them one after another. It was pretty impressive to see the number of fish there.
|This is what's left so far on the Lyons side of the dam|
|If you look in the almost dead center of the picture, you will see a small shape to the right of the two rocks - this was a huge carp that was at least 15 pounds. I was really wishing I could be down there with the fly rod to catch this thing!!|
|If you look closely, there is a small bump on that log sticking out of the water - it was a large turtle that probably had a shell that was about a foot long and eight to ten inches across.|
|A view from the bridge looking at the notch created so far|
|That is the Hoffman Tower and a great view of how the area looks today|
|On the other side of the bridge where the cranes enter the water.|
Overall, I think progress looks great. There is a lot of old debris like tires, barrels, and the boat that will need to be removed and according to the Army Corps of Engineers, that will all be done. The remnants of the old dam will also be removed so that a kayaker or canoer could actually paddle through.
I think the only part that I am a bit nervous about is how bad the area is going to look with only a section of the dam removed instead of the whole thing. That part looks pretty ugly and still seems like it would be a safety hazard. Aside from that, I think the river, and its tributaries, is going to flourish because this project. If I had to describe how the river looks after the notching of the dam in two words, I would say "more natural"
© 2012, Nick Doumel, use with permission