…and another portage avoided. I paddled a section of the Pawcatuck River in RI on Sunday where the old Bradford Dam was recently removed. The dam was a stone and timber structure built sometime between 1819 and 1846 to divert water to the nearby Bradford textile mills. Built on top of a natural falls, the 6-foot dam spanned the entire width of the river. Here is the old dam from a 2016 picture:
Since removing the dam would drop the water level upstream by about 5 feet and negatively impact wetlands, the decision was made to replace the existing dam with the new rock ramp structure. Here is the new dam:
The new dam is made up of 6 gradually ascending stone weirs, which serve like terraced steps – each drop about 8” to 12”. Pools between the steps give fish a place to rest on their way up the falls. Gaps in the weirs create channels for water to flow, including the main current down the middle that forms a nice channel for paddlers. Here we are running the new dam:
In the past 10 years three other dams have been removed on the Pawcatuck, all of which result in a much better paddling experience.
Lower Shannock Falls (dam removal that revealed a nice natural rapid):
Kenyon Dam (another ramp structure built on the downstream side of the existing dam):
Whiterock Dam (dam removal that completely removed the change in water level - boring but still nice):
Combined with 2 fish laldders, this has apparently opened up 31 miles of the Pawcatuck River to migratory fish. A lot of this was paid for with flood control mitigation funds - however they did it, I like the result. Few more pictures of Sunday’s trip here: